This lightening fast, well-balanced dinner is made in just one...

This lightening fast, well-balanced dinner is made in just one skillet— in about 20 minutes. (September 2022) Credit: Marge Perry

There’s a certain kind of dish we all need in our repertoire: a dinner that is incredibly fast and easy to make, tasty, well-balanced — and doesn’t require a lot of cleanup. It’s a dinner for your most harried nights that’s as easy to make as it is satisfying to eat.

Keep your freezer stocked with frozen mixed vegetables and peeled uncooked shrimp (which I buy when it's on sale and always have in the freezer). Anytime you make rice — or order in Chinese food — make (or order) extra and stick it in the freezer. Leftover cooked rice makes better fried rice than freshly cooked — and it means you don’t have to take the 25 minutes to make some.

Not a fan of shrimp? Use chicken tenders instead. Replace the asparagus with green beans, broccoli, or whatever vegetable you have on hand. You can also combine the soy sauce with a heaping tablespoon of hoisin sauce to ramp up the flavor, although the dish is quite good without it.

OK, here it is: your 20-minute dinnertime bestie.

Shrimp and Vegetable Fried Rice

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, 31-40 per pound

1 tablespoon sesame oil

6 cups cold cooked white rice

¾-pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

2 large eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons lower sodium soy sauce

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the shrimp and cook, turning once, for a total of 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and repeat with the remaining shrimp.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil and the sesame oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned and heated through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil to the skillet. Stir in the asparagus and cook until bright green, about 1 minute. Add the frozen mixed vegetables and cook until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Slide the rice mixture to one side of the pan and add the eggs to the skillet. Cook until the eggs are almost set, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Stir the eggs into the rice.

4. Add the shrimp and soy sauce to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are warmed through and the soy sauce is well distributed, about 2 minutes.