These are some simple meals that require between 2 and 3 ingredients and take less than 10 minutes to make and cost less than $2/serving. This is the kind of meal you make when you don’t want to get the cutting board out, when you’re tired and freezing cold and your husband is out of town and no one in Ithaca sells snow tires that fit your car because it’s too old. I mean, the kind of meal you cook when you don’t want to get the cutting board out and you’re tired. Ahem.
The success to a simple meal lies in the quality of its ingredients. Organic eggs, some good cheese. This philosophy of eating was inspired by the time I spent with a precious French family who I worked for as a nanny in college. They took me with them to France a few times where a meal would often be: some bread, butter, cheese, and radishes. And a glass of wine. But it was really, really good bread, really, really good cheese and butter, etc. There is something sort of beautiful to me about eating this way, and I would say that 65% of our meals are things like these.
Just spread onto sprouted bread, add the tiniest amount of real sea salt, and voila. It is the most delicious thing ever.
Bread and Cheese
Has anyone ever read Heidi? The toasted cheese and bread, anyone? This meal just makes you want to be a goat-herd in the Swiss alps and sleep on a bale of hay covered with a cotton sheet in the loft of a little cabin.
The only necessary thing here is to not buy reduced fat cheese. Please, please trust me.
I like Cabot cheese a lot– it’s pretty economical, and delicious. For bread: I have been particularly fond of sprouted bread for the past few years. Has a nice, toothy, rustic quality to it. Variation: corn tortillas and cheese, ie, quesadillas. If you haven’t discovered the absolute magic of corn tortillas, please, please try again. La Banderita is the best.
Eggs and Tortillas
Doesn’t need much explanation. Buy the best eggs you can afford. The secret is to cook the tortillas for 3-4 minutes on low heat with some olive oil in a pan to soften them up. (In this picture: sprouted corn tortillas. Super fancy, and this will probably be the last time I buy them because they’re too expensive. But I just wanted to give them a try and they are amazing. You can find them in the fridge or freezer section in health food stores.) Serve with Texas Pete or some salsa, if you want.
Beans and Tortillas
I’ve written a post on a great recipe for refried beans, and it’s delicious. But I usually have a few cans of pre-made refried beans in the pantry for nights when chopping up half an onion seems too much. Just heat them up in a pan, warm some corn tortillas in a skillet with some olive oil. And voila. Just add hot sauce. (Obviously you can dress these up with some salsa, avocado slices, cheese, etc.)
Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic
This is a beautiful recipe, the terrible photograph above notwithstanding. I promise I am not filming a horror video about food; it’s just that it is always dark in Ithaca and it’s hard to take decent pictures. Just avert your eyes. Anyway, when I was in divinity school I lived briefly with two engineering students, one of whom was a visiting scholar from Italy. We only had dinner together a handful of times, but each time this is what it consisted of: a bottle or two of red wine and some real salami (or some kind of Italian cured meat) on the table. The other non-Italian roommate and I would eat salami and drink wine while the Italian would cook pasta, sautee some garlic in olive oil with a little bit of fresh red pepper, and then we would eat. It was divine.
Anyway, the recipe is basically: Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. warm some (e.v.) olive oil in a sautee pan on low heat, add about 2 garlic cloves per person and 1 dried red chili (or some red chili flakes because who really has dried chilis on hand) and sautee until the garlic is just barely beginning to brown, less than 2 minutes. It’s better to err on the side of undercooking the garlic. Remove the chili pepper (if using a whole pepper; if using flakes, leave them). Toss the oil and garlic mixture in the pasta and enjoy.