Impressive Home Cooking for Beginners
Mar 06, 2023,23:31 PM
I'm well into my 5th decade of cooking for myself, after about 18 years with mom and sis providing direction. One thing I'm frequently asked is "How can I make a nice dinner when I can barely make a pot of spaghetti?"
Here's my typical response, should the question be arising in the minds of younger watch enthusiasts who need to whip something up. I prefer fresh, colorful food because if you can please the eyes you are half-way to pleasing the palate.
If you can lay your hands on some cherry tomatoes, great. I used asparagus here because it's in season, and you could substitute green beans, cut into pieces like this. Cut the tomatoes in half too.
Take a handful of spaghetti 2-3 ounces (60-80g) per person, and put it in a pot to boil for 8-10 minutes.
Put your vegetables in the skillet with some olive oil and cook until they begin to soften - 5-10 minutes. You can see I threw in some mushrooms (they needed to be used up). Add salt & pepper and garlic if you like. I'm very negatively influenced by onions so I never touch them... can't even have them in the house.
When the vegetables are nearly done, add the frozen pieces of seafood. Here I have a mix of shrimp, calamari (squid), small scallops and mussels in the shell (they are fully cooked).
Put the lid on and let it go 3-4 minutes.
I had one piece of fresh red snapper from the previous day, so I cut it into pieces and added it to my pan. Flip over the shrimp so the pale side is down and pink side is up.
Take your pasta off the heat, drain the spaghetti noodles, and add them to the mix in your skillet. If it seems too dry add some water from the noodles, olive oil, and/or butter. You want just a little juice which will come from the seafood and the tomatoes. At this stage I remove the shells too, because it's easier to do in the kitchen than at the table.
I guarantee that you can put this in a large colorful bowl with a bit of parsley, salt & pepper and you will have happy diners. My example shown is good for two hungry people and you can scale it up as large as your pans will allow.
I usually stick in a slice of bread for soaking up the extra liquid, and have a small salad on the side. In this case it's avocade and orange sections with balsalmic vinegar on top. With a crisp white wine.
If you don't like noodles, you can boil and mash some potatoes instead, and get this alternative version, where I used peas instead of asparagus. I didn't have fish but I had some tiny shrimp, so I threw those in too.
More sauce, shrimp and scallops without the premixed assortment
With rice and spinachSOURCES
For readers who have access to Costco, this is my favorite blend of seafood. Of course you can get this sort of thing locally or and in Asia with no problem. I can't speak for Europe.
I always add bread - I know many gluten-free folks but in our family it wasn't a meal if you didn't have a slice of something substantial to chew on (key word being chew; we never had WonderBread).
I baked this but you can buy good bread almost anywhere nowadays.
Cheers, and happy cooking.