If you’re looking for easy cooking ideas, stop searching in recipe books! Instead, look at your cooking basics. One of the best basic cooking methods to employ for quick dishes is stove-top sauté. Sauté is a direct source, conductive cooking method that uses intense heat to cook and brown products quickly and easily. It’s the best way to get dinner done quickly, regardless of the ingredients you choose.
The most important part of the sauté method is getting the pan hot first. This is one of the biggest mistakes home cooks make that gets in the way of easy cooking. Putting your protein product into the pan and then heating the pan and the product together actually makes cooking more difficult. If you don’t hear a distinct "sizzle" when you add something to the pan, it’s not hot enough. The first thing your protein product will do is release moisture and if you are heating the product at the same time as the pan, you will end up with a dried finished product.
After you’re sure your pan is ready, you’ll need a small amount of fat to transfer the heat from the bottom of the pan to the item you’re cooking. This is one of the cooking basics you can’t ignore. Keep in mind that the use of fat in sauté is meant only to help with heat transfer. This is different from pan frying, where you fill the pan with oil in a moist, convective fashion. So, use only a small amount of fat for sauté.
Once your item is cooked under the direct heat of the stove top, then you can add any type aromatics that you would like, such as onion, garlic, or ginger. Quickly cook them in the leftover pan-drippings or "fond" to combine the flavors.
Now comes the fun of sauté method and the best of all easy cooking ideas, how to make a quick pan sauce. Any type of cold liquid will quickly drop the temperature of the pan and lift the fond from the bottom, allowing you to combine flavors and leave a flavorful liquid that you can thicken or reduce for a sauce.
Quick dishes and easy cooking ideas always come from cooking basics. Once you have an understanding of these basic methods, you can use them over and over again to create dinner ideas from the ingredients you have on hand.