During this stay-home period, treat yourself to some simple yet delicious food.
It’s been more than a month since the circuit breaker began, and most, if not all of us, have gradually grown tired of the walls of our house and the incessant chatter of our housemates. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be able to recite the plot of the drama your family has been blasting in the living room, heard for the umpteenth time that your neighbour upstairs does not it when her children argue with each other, or began scouring the internet for quick and easy recipes because you’ve run out of ideas and ingredients.
While I can’t help you dispel the boredom, I can provide you with some cooking recipes that I’ve found. With my current predicament, I kept a couple of rules during my search:
- There can only be three ingredients in the dish, not including classic seasonings like salt and pepper;
- All the ingredients need to be purchasable online; and
- At least one of the ingredients should be from BORGES and available on our online store.
With those rules in mind, I’ve found a couple of recipes that are simple and easy to do, though some may take more time than others. I’ll also explore some alternative ingredients for each of the dishes I found, so you can make different variants depending on what’s available to you!
We will first start by breaking a classic pasta flavour down to its most basics. I’m talking, of course, about the Bolognese Pasta, except we might be doing without the meat this time.
The three ingredients for 4 servings are spaghetti (a full packet of 500 g), ground paprika (one teaspoon), and a can of tomatoes (sliced or diced).
Cook your spaghetti as per normal, then transfer it to a pan where you combine it with the tomatoes, and some ground paprika for an extra kick. Salt and pepper can also be added as per your taste. Then serve.
There aren’t many variations you can do with this dish, though you are always free to break out of the ‘three ingredient rule’ and add whatever meat you like. Take note, however, that adding meat would take more time, as you will need to clean and blanch it before adding it into the saucepan.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Breaking down a popular pasta with an Italian name, we are going straight to the roots with the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. Despite its fancy name, it literally translates into “spaghetti with garlic and oil”, and that’s exactly what we will be using!
The ingredients for 4 servings are spaghetti (a full packet of 500 g), minced garlic (two teaspoons), and olive oil (78 ml). As usual, you may add salt and pepper to your taste, but usually I find that it’s great as it is. Just cook the spaghetti as usual, while sauteeing the minced garlic with olive oil in a pan. Once the spaghetti is ready, toss it into the same pan and mix them together.
A traditional aglio e olio will sometimes include red chilli flakes, but it is optional due to our ‘three ingredient rule’. In more recent times, it is popular to add cheese as an additional garnish, but traditionalists would say that whatever we have here is good enough.
Personally, I have this with an extra soft-boiled egg on top, giving additional flavour and thickness to the pasta. Yum!
Cacio e Pepe
Moving away from the popular pastas and into the cream category, we have the Cacio e Pepe, which is a more modern variant of pasta. Its Italian name translates to “cheese and pepper”, and if you know the drill by now, those are the very ingredients we will use.
Traditionally, the dish uses grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but those may be a little hard to find depending on where you’re looking. Parmesan is said to be a good alternative, as the two cheeses taste largely similar, except that the Pecorino Romano has a sharper, saltier taste.
For 4 servings, prepare spaghetti (a full packet of 500 g), the grated form of your selected cheese (255 g), and ground black pepper (2 tablespoons). Extra salt can also be added to taste. Cook the spaghetti as per normal, while mashing the grated cheese and pepper into a paste in a larger bowl (you can use some of the hot pasta water to help). Once the spaghetti is cooked, toss it into the bowl with the paste and mix until everything spreads evenly. When serving, you can also top up with more cheese and pepper.
The recipe I found also added 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into the paste, but that kind of breaks my ‘three ingredient rule’, so I’ll leave that up to you. This dish also has a similar variant using penne pasta, called Penne Pecorino. Depending on your tastes, you can try using that instead of spaghetti!
Moving on to another cheesy pasta, the Fettuccine Alfredo, or Fettuccine Al Burro, is a traditional recipe that uses butter and Parmesan cheese. It uses a thicker and flatter variant of pasta called fettuccine, but I’m going to switch it to spaghetti for this recipe.
For 4 servings, use spaghetti (a full packet of 500 g), butter (240 g), and grated Parmesan cheese (230 g). Cook the spaghetti as per usual. In a bowl, beat the butter and Parmesan cheese together until they become creamy. Once the spaghetti is done, toss it into the bowl with the cream paste, along with some of the pasta water (60 ml is recommended, but you may put less or more depending on your tastes). The hot water and pasta will melt the cheese and butter, allowing for the creamy texture to spread evenly. You may also add some salt and pepper as per your tastes.
Adding more cheese on top while serving is also a great plus! If the taste is a bit too heavy, you can also toss some vegetables into the dish, such as broccoli, mushrooms or asparagus, to help balance out the creamy taste.
Now that we’ve had enough of pasta, we will start with some delicious and simple side dishes that we can add to our meals. This stir-fry broccoli, while distinctly Asian, is straightforward and healthy.
Serving between 2 to 4 people, this dish requires only broccoli (get one big head and cut them into florets), garlic (2 cloves, diced), and olive oil (2 teaspoons). Heat up a pan, then add the oil and spread it across the bottom. Add the garlic and broccoli, and add some salt as per your taste. Cook and stir them with the oil. Add some water (around 60 ml, or enough to cover half of your broccoli), then cover the pan and let it cook for 1 minute. Remove and serve.
You can also use chicken stock instead of water, which would help add to the taste and fragrance of the broccoli. If the broccoli is too bare for you, you can also add ingredients such as baby corn, mushrooms, and capsicums to add more colour and flavour.
A recipe that I’m fairly excited about, this is a simple one that features grilled potatoes and ranch dressing. The recipe calls for baby red potatoes, but those are really hard to get here (even online), so I’m going to substitute them with common, brown potatoes but cut into 1 inch cubes.
For 4 servings, use potatoes (910 g), olive oil (3 tablespoons), and ranch dressing (250 g). Wash the potatoes, dry them, and then chop them into 1 inch cubes (you don’t really have to peel them if you’ve cleaned them well, but it’s up to you). Put them into a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Take half of the ranch dressing and mix evenly, before adding the remaining and mix fully. At this point you can skewer the potatoes on a satay stick, or just use them as-is. Take a grill pan (or just a normal pan if you don’t have one), and then grill the potatoes until they become soft enough for a fork to poke through them.
Ranch dressing may be a bit hard to find, but considering its base is a yoghurt, there has been suggestions to use Greek yoghurt as a substitute, or just use Greek yoghurt and add garlic, mayo and white vinegar to create the dressing for yourself.
Another recipe that I adore, this is a simple corn snack that is coated in parmesan cheese. The only difference is that this would require an oven instead of a stove. It reminds me of corn cobs that gets wrapped in aluminium foil and barbequed, but with the addition of some cheese!
For 6 servings, use corn cobs cut in half (6 of them, cleaned and husked), olive oil (2 tablespoons), and grated parmesan cheese (55 g). You may also add salt and pepper to your taste. Preheat your oven to 190°C. While waiting, coat your corn in olive oil and roll them in parmesan cheese. Place all of them into a baking dish, season them with salt and pepper as you like, and then bake for 25 minutes. Take them out and serve. You can even add additional cheese on top for extra flavour and crunch!
Nut Drink Mousse
Traditionally, mousse has been a relatively simple food that utilises just whipped egg whites, whipped cream, and whatever additional flavour you want to go with it. You can make it savoury by adding meat or fish, or you can make it sweet by adding chocolate or fruits. In our case, we will use our famous nut drink.
For 4 servings, use large eggs (3 of them, and make sure to separate them into yolks and whites), heavy cream (120 ml), and the nut drink of your choice (200 ml). In the first bowl, beat the yolks into the nut drink one at a time, until you get a thick texture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Fold the egg whites into the nut drink mixture in parts (so that you don’t break too many of the air bubbles in the egg whites). Mix it until they are uniform, then set aside. In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. Then fold it into the previous egg and nut drink mixture in parts, until everything has been mixed evenly. Divide the mousse into 4 glass cups, cover them with plastic wrap, and put them into the fridge to cool for 4 hours before serving.
If you want to make things look fancier, you can use more whipped cream to add to the top of the mousse, chop up some nuts to sprinkle on top, or even toss in some Nutella to add more chocolatey taste to the mousse.
Now, this one is a bit different, as it’s meant to be a dip that you can use with other dishes. At home, I eat these dips with either plain crackers (those we had to swallow as kids on Total Defence Day), or dip them with the fries I snack on from time to time. Otherwise, these also work great as healthy alternatives to mayonnaise in sandwiches.
For 1 serving, use softened cream cheese (240 ml), green olives (10 of them, diced), and Worcestershire sauce (1 teaspoon). In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and Worcestershire sauce together, then add in the diced olives. Once everything has been spread evenly, take out your plain crackers and grab a bite! If there are any leftovers, you can keep it in an airtight container, pop it in the fridge, then use the rest of the week to finish it up.
Now to end off the list of recipes, we have something that would help clear off the rich savoury tastes of the previous dishes. As a simple coleslaw without the use of mayonnaise, this is a fairly simple yet healthy recipe, and is something conveniently crunchy to chew on whenever your mouth gets itchy!
For 4 servings, use shredded green cabbage or coleslaw vegetable mix (455 g), granulated white sugar (52 g), and tarragon wine vinegar (118 ml). You are free to add salt and pepper to taste as well. Mix the white sugar, the vinegar and your salt and pepper in a bowl, until they are uniformly combined. Place the shredded vegetables into the bowl and stir to mix evenly. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then cover with a plastic wrap and store it in the fridge overnight before serving (you may also need to check on it sometimes and stir it again).
If just vegetables are too plain for you, you may also add pulled meat or fish for more flavour.
While this little recipe search mostly started due to a need for more dishes, it also brought to attention the beauty of simplicity. Many of these dishes were built upon the very basics, such as having a main ingredient and two supplement ones for flavour and texture, or understanding how different ingredients work together and produce something as good as a dish with twenty or more ingredients.
If you are interested in more recipes, or in the history of other ingredients, feel free to check out the rest of our site. I think you may enjoy this post about the history of pasta and their different shapes.