Smart Shortcuts for Big Flavor

These quick and easy recipes — like grilled shrimp with spicy slaw and crispy sour cream and onion chicken — help you work smarter, not harder.

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By Emily Weinstein

I love a cooking shortcut, especially when it delivers tremendous flavor. Ingredients like Italian sausage, kimchi and feta cheese are immediate dish boosters, doing much of the heavy lifting for you. I’m also happy to lean on packaged sliced or chopped vegetables at the end of the busy day. (I can’t remember who told me to buy peeled garlic, but I’m indebted to you.)

The recipes below are animated with that big flavor energy, without requiring extra work from you. Also, please help us resolve a friendly office debate here at New York Times Cooking: If you celebrate Mother’s Day (for yourself or a mother in your life), do you go out to eat, or do you cook? Or neither? (If you cook, we have a lot of recipe ideas for you, and if you prefer to dine out, Nikita Richardson has plenty of New York restaurant advice in her Where to Eat newsletter.) Tell me at [email protected], where you can also send me your cooking questions and conundrums. I’m here!

1. Grilled Shrimp With Spicy Slaw

Yossy Arefi has a new fast, flexible supper of citrusy grilled shrimp with cabbage slaw. While you could slice your own cabbage for this recipe, I’d buy the packaged shredded cabbage at the store. And you can sear the shrimp in a skillet if you don’t have a grill or grill pan: Heat oil over medium-high, add shrimp and cook one to two minutes per side. Done!

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2. Crispy Sour Cream and Onion Chicken

This recipe from Ali Slagle marries sour cream and onion dip with breaded chicken cutlets; it’s as excellent as you might imagine. It’s also less messy than the typical flour-egg-bread crumb dredging process you find in similar recipes.

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3. One-Pot Tortellini With Meat Sauce

Could you brown some meat and cover it with jarred tomato sauce and call it meat sauce? You could. Would it be as good as this one-pot, no-chop recipe from Ali Slagle? It would not. Italian sausage, either sweet or hot, is the smart option here because it’s aggressively seasoned already, further reducing your workload in the kitchen.

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4. Coconut Curry Fish

Millie Peartree’s coconut curry fish is a ginger-spiked, pepper-laden stew that can adapt to your tastes (add hot pepper) and needs (swap in different fish). I’ll never say no to a stew made with coconut milk, which adds body along with flavor. There’s a good vegan modification for this recipe: Swap in tofu for the fish.

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5. Sheet-Pan Baked Feta With Broccolini, Tomatoes and Lemon

Feta is delicious after a stint in the oven — it turns creamy and goes perfectly with any number of vegetables. This popular and very easy recipe from Yasmin Fahr is a perfect example of this principle in action, and you could toss in a can of chickpeas (drained and patted dry first) with the veggies if you’d like.

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