The 15-Minute Dinner That Saves My Weeknights on the Regular

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We’ve partnered with Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork to highlight delicious, family-friendly recipes that are perfect for weeknight dinners and beyond.

When you think of piccata, I’d bet a million bucks that you probably think of chicken first. (If not, jokes on you, I don’t have a million dollars.) The only thing is, chicken isn’t the only protein you can use for this classic Italian-American dish.

My new favorite way to piccata: with a fresh pork loin filet that’s already marinated with garlic and herbs. Not only is it exceptionally speedy, which explains why it’s become my absolute go-to for weeknight dinners, but it’s also packed with tons of flavor.

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What do I mean by speedy? This recipe is ready in just about 15 minutes. All you have to do is slice the marinated pork loin, pound it out, and dredge it in flour, which by my account takes all of five minutes or so. And if you want to cut back on time even more, you can cut and pound the pork loin in advance, wrap it tightly, and store it in the fridge for a day or two. (Just let it come back up to room temperature before you cook it.)

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After giving the cutlets a quick sauté, make a pan sauce of lemon, butter, stock, and capers, which takes all of 10 minutes.

Despite the quick cook time and minimal ingredients, this piccata is golden-brown and tender, and packed with bright, punchy flavors and a good sprinkle of fresh parsley over top. My other favorite thing about this recipe: you can serve it alongside anything from crisp, garlicky green beans and mashed potatoes to buttery linguine and a simple side salad. Like I said, it’s the ultimate weeknight dinner winner.

Of course, while I could probably eat this dish over and over again, it’s nice to have a solid repertoire.

Some of my other weeknight staples that check the boxes of quick and delicious come from food blogger Alyssa Rivers, aka The Recipe Critic. She’s mastered the art of getting dinner on the table, stat, without sacrificing flavor or taste.

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One of her tricks for speedier meals: Plan out your meals the week before and make sure you’ve got all the ingredients you need on hand. “If you know that you have a busy week ahead, it’s great to prep your ingredients at the beginning of the week,” she recently told me. And to cut down on the time you spend over the stove, cube your pork, she adds—it cooks faster that way and tastes great in just about any skillet dinner.

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Alyssa’s recipes are developed for this kind of prepped-and-ready style of cooking. Even better, many of them call for just one skillet, for easy cleanup. One of her all-stars (that is definitely part of my rotation): creamy pork carnitas pasta.

You can prep the seasoned carnitas any way you like. Alyssa likes to pop it in the slow cooker in the morning so it’s pull-apart tender by dinnertime, but “it also works great to sauté them in a skillet, grill, or even roast the pork,” she adds. Either way, once the pork is cooked, all you have to do is soften up the crisp bell peppers (pre-sliced, for ease), boil some pasta, and make the luxuriously creamy sauce that coats it all.

Another favorite: grilled Tuscan pork skewers that are ready to eat in exactly 20 minutes. “These skewers start as a great flavorful base for any dish,” Alyssa says. “You can add them to a pasta, creamy dish, casserole, serve over rice, and they’re great eaten by themselves.” These are especially great for summer, but you can switch up the vegetables depending on the season, so you can make them all year round.

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For more of Alyssa’s best Monday-through-Friday meals, check out the recipes below. I’d bet five dollars (which I actually do have) you’ll find your new weeknight dinner hero.

Which dinner-ready recipe will you be cooking up this week? Tell us in the comments below!

We’ve partnered with Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork to share your new weeknight dinner lineup, from a lemony pork piccata that’s ready in 15 minutes to a creamy pork carnitas pasta the whole family will love. To make your weeknights even more streamlined, don’t forget to use Smithfield’s Marinated Fresh Pork. These fresh pork cuts (think: pork chops, loin filets, tenderloins, roasts, and more) are carefully seasoned and marinated using a variety of different spices and rubs (no artificial ingredients here!) so that all you have to do is throw them on the grill, stovetop, or in the oven.

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