At over 700 pages, this recently released paperback cookbook from Reader’s Digest boasts at containing over 300 recipes blending home style cooking and ethnic cuisine. Most are listed as easy to make and all are supposed to be made within thirty minutes. Fresh ingredients, not canned or frozen, is paramount here in most recipes with something available to serve the most finicky eater.


After a brief introduction, Chapter One opens with “Snacks and Starters” featuring “Smoked Salmon Dip” (Pages 18-19), “Sausage and Tabbouleh Wraps” (Page 28-29) and “Tuna Pastry Pies” (Pages 36-37) among others. With each recipe, the directions and ingredients are on the left page with a full page color picture on the right. Separate preparation and cooking times are listed which combined add up to thirty minutes, along with portion size and cooking difficulty level. Extra tips are few and far between because most info is included in the straightforward directions.


Chapter Two is on “Salads” and starts on pages 88 and 89 with “Smoked Chicken And Avocado Salad.” That is quickly followed by the “Arugula, Pancetta, And Tomato Salad” (Pages 90-91) and “Italian Sausage, Artichoke, And Asparagus Salad “(Pages 92-93) and many more. While many of the recipes in this chapter are labeled as “Level 1” meaning they are the simplest to make, they involve cooking meats and or vegetables first and then adding them to a salad. Therefore, if you like your salad relatively plain and simple, most of these recipes won’t work for you. Beans and nuts also pay a prominent role in many of these salads as well.


“Thai Tofu And Mushroom Soup” kicks off the “Soup” section starting on page 150. A hearty “Tomato, Vegetable And Bean Soup” (Page 158-159) and a “Hot And Sour Chicken Soup” (Pages 174-175) follow among many others.


Chapter Four is on “Pasta.” Of course, spaghetti is in here but this time it is as “Spaghetti With Mint, Garlic, And Olives,” (Pages 196-197) or “Spaghetti With Peas, Crisp Bacon, And Parmesan” (Pages 198-199) or “Spaghetti With Butter And Sage Bread Crumbs” (Pages 200-201) and several other variations. Recipes for fettuccine, angel hair pasta, penne, macaroni, and others are included.


“Noodles” is the theme of the next chapter with “Chicken Udon Noodle Soup” (pages 270-271), “Chile And Lime Shrimp Noodle Salad” (Pages 276-277) and “Warm Black Bean Lamb And Rice Noodle Salad” (Pages 280-281) among others. Many of the recipes here could have been included in the salad section. If you are really into noodles, you will love this section because they seem to have the topic well covered.


Chapter Six begins on page 318 with “Grains.” Risotto is the main ingredient here though there are a few rice recipes such as “Rice With Herb Pesto And Feta” (pages 352-353) and “Brown Rice Salad” (Pages 354-355). A noted earlier, there are recipes in this Chapter such as “Tuna Couscous Salad” (Pages 364-365) which easily could have appeared in the salads chapter section instead of here.


“Seafood” comes next and opens with “Spicy Mussel Soup.” (Pages 370-371) followed by the eye opening “Salt And Pepper Squid.” (Pages 372-373) There is also “Sea Bream With Fennel And Onions” (Pages 388-389) and “Cod With Potatoes” (Pages 394-395) among many others.


Chapter Eight is all about “Poultry.” Whether it is “Chicken With Asparagus And Prosciutto” (Pages 428-429) or “Grilled Chicken With Garlic, Lemon And Parsley” (Pages 431-432) or something else, chicken is prominent here. Duck is also occasionally included such as in “Duck And Green Onion Yakitori” (Pages 462-463). Also briefly mentioned are quail and turkey.


The ode to carnivores continues in the next chapter on “Meat.” The chapter opens with “Beef Fillets With Tomato Pesto and Prosciutto “(Pages 488-489) soon followed by “Beef Sirloin With Tomato And Olive Sauce” (Pages 494-495) and “Beef Steaks With Mushrooms And Sweet Potatoes” (Pages 496-497) and others. Numerous pork, lamb, and veal recipes are also included.


“Eggs And Cheese” also known as Chapter Ten begins with “Pan-Fried Eggs With Potatoes And Tomatoes” (Pages 552-553). Recipes for “Florentine Pizzas (Pages 560-561) and “Egg And Bacon Pies” (Pages 566-567) among others soon follow. None of these are the simple scrambled eggs and toast variety.


Chapter Eleven is on “Vegetables.” These include “Thai Vegetable Green Curry” (Pages 596-597), “Tomato, Garbanzo Bean, And Olive Pilaf” (Pages 600-601) and “Spicy Lentils With Spinach” (Pages 610-611) among others. Beans of a variety of types play a dominant role here along with a variety of nuts and grains.


“Desserts” is the final chapter and begins with “Chocolate Chip Puddings” on pages 644-645. A “Quick Tiramisu” (Pages 674-675) which uses coffee and sweet sherry follows among other delectable treats.


A six page index brings this colorful book to a close.


It should be noted that the thirty minutes claim is a little misleading for some of the recipes because it does not take into account total cooking time nor the occasional use of a prepared pizza dough or other base. Speed of meal preparation is important to many people and was used as a marketing tool here. The fact that some of these recipes take longer than 30 minutes is not necessarily a negative if you plan accordingly.


While this is a well done cookbook full of intriguing recipes, it does have a huge drawback. The book contains zero nutritional information. While the prevalence of fresh ingredients is clearly more healthful than use of canned, frozen, or prepared materials, the lack of nutritional information severely impacts its usefulness for those of us who must monitor such information.


Quick Food: Gourmet Recipes in Just 30 Minutes

Jenny Fanshaw & Annette Forrest

Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.


ISBN# 978-0-7621-0981-4


704 Pages



Material provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009


Be Sociable, Share!