I love nothing more than spending hours prepping, marinating, cooking and just dreaming all day about a dish that I’ve spent time, love and effort creating. But sometimes I just really CBA. Food should excite you – it shouldn’t be a chore. And sometimes, less is more. During last year we all got to experience the thrill of being at home and being able to spend more time in the kitchen but pair cooking 3 times a day with your own day job, and you are soon going to burnout, especially if you are trying to recreate Michelin Star quality food every day. Which is why I love minimalistic recipes. They are the key to whetting your appetite and falling back in love with food. Not only do they create more simple, basic dishes that save you time, effort (and washing up) but there are less opportunities to fail, (and having to start again) and these fuss-free dishes can really help you hone down on some basic cooking techniques, helping you be quicker in the kitchen for dishes to come. But they are also really great and showcasing a specific ingredient and really getting your tastebuds around, especially if you are purchasing local and seasonal ingredients that you may not have tried before or want to showcase at their best.
By taking one ingredient and highlighting it in a dish with just a few additional ingredients and you can really make something spectacular. A fresh tomato salad with a good glug of olive-oil and a pinch of sea salt is truly magical. The goal here is to make the veggie a hero and only adding the necessary ingredients to help it flourish and letting its flavours shine from within.
Some of my favourite dishes are minimalistic; they don’t have to be boring or basic – you just have to cook smart. Roasting ingredients can help bring out their sweetness as they basically cook themselves; they need less attention than pan-frying or something that needs constant stirring. On the other-hand, a quick pan-fry is a great way to get a dish from pan to plate in a few minutes flat – depending on the dish. It’s all about playing to your strengths and the time constraints or effort levels you have left.
And when all else fails, turn to your blender: you can whizz up a quick pesto to drizzle over salads, or roasted veggies and really take them to the next level in a few second’s flat. The same with dressings – don’t underestimate the power of a good quality dressing, it can take your limp looking salads to a whole new level with nothing more than just a few simple ingredients: olive oil, salt, mustard and an acidic source – lemon juice or white wine vinegar do well. Or go for a more Asian influence with fresh herbs, sesame and soy. Just blitz and drizzle.
And don’t forget about baking either, they don’t all have to be as complicated as feeding a sourdough starter each day. You can whip up simple desserts in one-bowl and let sit and set all day, such as mousse’s, jellies or truffles. Breads, cakes and bakes are the same too – opt for a one bowl or one pan recipe and let the oven or fridge do all the magic.
Utilise the equipment you have and when thinking about a mid-week or minimalistic dish, remove one or two ingredients from the final recipe, your tastebuds won’t miss them, but your body, mind and soul will thank you for the extra time and energy.