So. . . it won’t surprise you to know that we’ve been pretty busy for the past several months. We’ve been moving our business and our residence from 200 miles away, doing the interior buildout of the new shop, getting permits from numerous regulatory agencies, placing orders for, taking and merchandising inventory. . . and more. Which is the long way of saying that we haven’t had the time to cook as much as we’d like.
But that’s not to say that we haven’t had the time to eat as well as we’d like to. As you’ve heard us say over and over, the beauty of Italian cooking is that it takes simple, perfect ingredients and doesn’t mess them up. It’s the type of cooking that fits perfectly with our (and your) busy lives.
To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here are three dinners we’ve made over the past couple of months that take 15 minutes to make. Not 15 minutes each, but 15 minutes total! And they’re healthy and taste great. They’re so simple, they’re not even really recipes, but combinations of ingredients that work really well together. They’re also really easy to tweak and put your own stamp on them.
Truffled Beans and Broccoli
- 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen broccoli
- 1 jar white beans with truffle
- Put the frozen broccoli in a frying pan over medium heat with a dash of olive oil, covered
- Stir the broccoli occasionally to keep it from sticking
- Once the broccoli starts to thaw, remove the lid and finish heating through the broccoli, letting the water evaporate that will come out of the frozen broccoli.
- After the broccoli is heated, turn off the heat, pour the jar of truffle beans into the pan, and let the beans heat through. Don’t cook the beans much, if at all, since the truffle flavors and aromas will start to volatilize at high temperatures.
Total prep and cooking time – 10 minutes or less. Don’t like broccoli? Use frozen cauliflower or peas. Not enough food? Serve over polenta or pasta. Want to add meat? Italian tuna in olive oil would be perfect. Don’t have truffled beans? Use a can of regular cannellini beans and truffle oil.
Grilled Cheese +
While we really love a simple grilled cheese, adding a flavorful counterpoint like sun-dried tomatoes to the melty cheese really elevates this comfort food.
- Sliced bread
- Fontina cheese
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- olive oil
- Slice sun-dried tomatoes into strips
- Put skillet over medium heat
- Make a grilled cheese cheese sandwich using the tomato strips (Put cheese and tomato strips on one slice of bread; top with the other slice of bread; Drizzle olive oil in the skillet; put the sandwich in the skillet; once the bread gets crusty, drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the sandwich so you get a good crust on both sides of the sandwich, and flip it over)
Total prep and cook time: Less than 5 minutes. Don’t have Fontina on hand? Use any high-quality meltable cheese. Don’t like (or want) sun-dried tomatoes? Your possibilities for substitution are practically endless – basil pesto, trapansese pesto, eggplant caponata, olive tapenade, sliced olives, anchovies, hot peppers, fresh basil, dried oregano, and on. . .
Those of you have (a) read this far and (b) been doing the math are probably now doubting the title of the blog. We now have almost no time at all for our last dinner, given that the first two took “less than 10 minutes” and “less than 5 minutes” to cook, respectively. Well, lucky for you (and us), our last easy dinner can be put together in the time it takes for you to put lettuce on a plate and open a tin.
- 1 Tin grilled branzino (aka grilled Mediterranean seabass)
- Place arugula on plate
- Open tin of Branzino.
- Place Branzino fillet on arugula; drizzle arugula with the contents of the tin (which is a nice, branzino-infused olive oil)
Prep time: Depends on how fast you can open a tin. Don’t like arugula? Use the lettuce of your choice. Not enough food? Serve alongside a crusty bread, dipped in olive oil. Don’t have Branzino? Come get some. Really – it’s that good. Or use a high quality Italian tuna packed in olive oil. Buon appetito!