One winter break during college (long before all of today’s talk about clean eating), I arrived at my parents’ house to find my mom cooking “three-ingredient meals.” She’d randomly picked up a cookbook called Cooking 1-2-3: 500 Fabulous Three-Ingredient Recipes, and she was hooked on the idea of whipping up delicious and simple meals using minimal ingredients. While I was pretty sure I was already on to the idea of simple ingredients (the beer/cheese/peanut combo counts, right?), I decided I might have something to learn from her earnestness and experience. So we cooked…and we cooked…
And while I don’t remember exactly what we made or how we did it, I do remember the amazement that such deliciousness could erupt from such simplicity. Simple grilled or broiled fish with a salad…pureed vegetables offering a creamy foundation for a pork chop or piece of beef…tempeh and broccoli stir-fry…pudding! So now, as I try to cook healthy meals for a family (with limited time and equally limited culinary skill), I often fall back on the 3-ingredient framework (I don’t include spices or oils in my 3 ingredients). Here are some of my favorite recipes to make:
- Brussel Sprouts for People Who Think They Hate Brussel Sprouts
- Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Carrots and Yukon Gold Potatoes
- Chicken Schwarma
- Whole Trout (on grill) with simple side salad (no recipe needed!)
- Bittersweet Molten Chocolate Cakes (OK, four ingredients here)
Yes, three ingredients is limiting, but sometimes limits actually provide comfort and ease. And beyond that, in the food category, if you can pronounce and recognize everything you’re eating, you’re better off than most people!
Do you have any favorite 3-ingredient dishes to share? Does limiting ingredients help you cook easier, healthier food, or does it leave you feeling unsatisfied? If not 3, what’s your magic number?