If there is anything to know when it comes to basic home cooking, it’s that simple recipes and fresh ingredients yield a better outcome. Have you ever noticed that on many occasions you may have thought that whatever you were working on—whether it be cooking or art, the more details you added, it did not look or taste as great as it did originally when it had less going on? This phenomenon applies to a bunch of things in life; especially in the culinary realm. Here are three brief recipes that are perfect examples of this philosophy. All of them have minimal ingredients, but their flavors stand out in a way that is straight to the point. There are certain ingredients a home cook should always have in their pantry and fridge for most recipes and they should always be the best. Arguably the most important of these ingredients that can pull a dish together is a very good quality bottle of olive oil in your cooking arsenal. An ingredient so versatile and flavorful if used correctly, has the ability to add a backbone to whatever dish you are making.
Asparagus with Parmesan
Yield: serves 4
- One bunch of Asparagus
- 3 regular kitchen tablespoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss all of the ingredients with the Asparagus on a baking sheet.
- Put it in the oven for 15 minutes until roasted.
Herbed Italian Orzo
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed (optional: my version does not have it)
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 1/2 white onion chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Cook orzo in salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Combine cooked orzo with bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, and the optional mozzarella cheese.
- Dress the pasta salad by pouring in olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt, parsley, pepper, and basil.
- Stir to combine. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve cold.
Honey “Glazed” Carrots
Yield: 4 people
- 1 lb. carrots
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1/4 cup of parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash, peel, and cut the carrots lengthwise in half and cut once again through the middle. Boil the carrots for three minutes and no more than that because you do not want those soggy carrots that taste gross. Drain it afterwards.
- Melt the butter in a pan like the one pictured at medium low. Add the carrots as well as the seasonings and honey. Do not add the parsley until the end. Toss and cook for 3-4 minutes. The carrots should still have a bit of a bite to them, and should not be fully “cooked” per-say.
- Add the parsley after turning off the heat and toss to coat.