I'm not big on recipes, at least not since I discovered this book, which has changed my life.
... we didn't need more recipes, we needed to learn to cook without them. With a decently stocked pantry and the grasp of a few basic techniques, we found that eating well could be very simple.
--- Pam Anderson, author of How to Cook Without a Book
Based on the concept of simple master recipes, with examples of how to vary the ingredients, I am now able to quickly throw things together based on what I have on hand and easily end up with ten or twenty or more variations of each master recipe. Teach a woman a recipe, she'll feed her family for a meal. Teach a woman to cook, she'll feed her family for a lifetime. (Don't anybody email me now complaining that I'm stereotyping women here, you know this applies to men and women alike, right?)
Here is a favorite that I make at least once a week year round. The only dishes you'll dirty are one pot, a knife, and a cutting board. Chop, throw it all in the pot, do something else for 20 minutes, then sit down to a satisfying meal. If you feel like it, add salad or bread, but you don't need to.
- Some oil
- A diced onion
- A goodly amount of veggies of choice
- Protein of choice
- Starch of choice
- Maybe a can of tomatoes
- A sufficient quantity of stock or broth
- Herbs or spices of choice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion while you chop the other stuff. Add veggies, protein, starch, tomatoes (optional), stock, and dried herb or spices of choice. Simmer 20 minutes or until everything is soft enough. Add any fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
You'll notice I didn't specify amounts. You don't really need them, just throw in what seems right to get the balance you want and number of servings you want. I almost always make double what I need for dinner, either for leftovers the next day, or to give meals to new moms or sick neighbors.
You'll notice I also didn't specify which veggies/proteins/starches/flavorings to use. Just use a combo that sounds good, or use up those bits of leftover meat or veggies that are otherwise going to spoil in your fridge. Here are some suggestions though:
- Protein: chicken breast or pork loin (throw some in whole to poach it through, remove and cool slightly, dice and throw it back in), sliced Italian or smoked sausage, diced ham, shrimp or fish chunks (put those two in right at the end so they don't overcook), or for a meatless meal, use lentils or cooked beans
- Starch: Diced potatoes, rice, cooked beans, hominy, pasta, noodles, peas, corn
- Veggies: whatever sounds good. Celery, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, kale or chard, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, rutabaga
- Flavorings: whatever makes sense for your creation. It will be fine with just salt and pepper, but if you want to jazz it up or have any of these on hand, it will be even more delicious (you don't have to use everything listed for each flavor profile):
- Anything: dried thyme, fresh garlic, and fresh parsley go with pretty much anything
- Italian: fresh rosemary, fresh garlic, fresh basil, fresh parsley, dried oregano, red pepper flakes (just a shake adds depth without spice - don't worry, your kids will still like it)
- Indian: curry powder, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, coconut milk in place of some of the stock, fresh cilantro
- Mexican: chili powder, cumin, oregano, fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime
- Cajun: dried oregano, bay leaves, cayenne, paprika, dried thyme
- Greek: dried or fresh oregano, fresh garlic, dill, a squeeze of lemon
- Thai: lemongrass paste or some kind of curry paste (saute a big spoonful with the onions), coconut milk in place of some of the stock, fresh cilantro
So you get the idea. Print this out, tape it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet door, and get cookin'! Let me know how it goes!!