By Alia Al-Chalabi
After arriving back to school, many students have moved into a new apartment with a kitchen, ready to use. If you’re anything like me, you probably forgot about all the necessary appliances and utensils for an efficient kitchen. Whether it’s a knife set, potholders or whatever you’re missing, these recipes are so easy that you can make them with anything you managed to remember and they’re not just pasta. For most of these, all you need is one knife, a pan, a pot and maybe a measuring cup.
Blistered tomatoes and chiles over rice: Serves 4 people
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- 3 Large hot chilis or 10 small shishito peppers (depending on spice preference)
- Corn — optional
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Black pepper
- Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup of rice
- A serrated knife
- A shallow pan
- A pot
- A measuring cup
- Take 1 ½ cups of water and add it to the pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat and then add 1 cup of rice and about 2 tablespoons of salt. Stir and then let sit. If possible, wrap the pot cover in a dish towel to retain moisture in the pot. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until rice has absorbed the water and is tender.
- Take the pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Wait until the oil has heated and then add in the chilis or shishito peppers. Make sure you add the peppers whole, stem and everything. Add salt and pepper to each side. Press in pan until sides are blistered (it’ll look like the skin has become dark and is peeling off). Add tomatoes after chilis have cooked sufficiently, in order to not overcook tomatoes. Once the tomato skin has turned light yellow, take the pan off the heat.
- If you want to also roast corn for this, boil the corn for about 5 minutes until fully cooked. Add the fully cooked corn to the pan when the chilis are cooking, while the corn is still on the cob. Proceed as normal, until some of the kernels darken in color. After preparing cut the corn off the cob to add to the rice.
- Add tomatoes and peppers to rice. If you used chili and want to control the heat level, slice the chilis first and remove the seeds. If you used shishitos, just cut the stems off. Enjoy!
Taco Tuesdays: Serves 4
- 2 pounds of Ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)
- 2 Tablespoons salt
- 3 Tablespoons cumin
- 3 Tablespoons chili powder
- 2 Tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Tortillas
- Salsa of choice for garnishing
- Shredded cheddar cheese for garnishing
- A fork
- A shallow pan
- Quick and easy! Add the oil to the pan and wait to heat up over medium. Add in the ground beef all at once. If bought pre-packaged then be sure to take your fork and smash down until it crumbles completely. This will take about 2 minutes. This is important to get the ground beef consistency, as it often is sold fresh out of the meat grinder in long strings.
- Add in the spices. Measuring isn’t too important here, but the cumin and chili powder and the two spices that make it most taste like taco meat.
- Cook until completely browned, and a light yellow pool of spices starts to form around the meat.
- Toast tortillas either in a toaster, or in your oven at 350 for about 5 minutes.
- Add toppings of choice (you can use the blistered tomato and chili recipe here too as a garnish) and dig in!
Fried eggplant over ground beef: Serves 4
- 2 Large eggplants — firm to touch
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds of ground beef
- Parsley (about a handful)
- 2 Tablespoons salt (1 for the beef and 1 for the eggplant)
- 2 Tablespoons black pepper (1 for the beef and 1 for the eggplant)
- 2 Tablespoons cumin
- 2 cloves of garlic – or a tablespoon of garlic powder
- A shallow pan – can cook the eggplant first, then reuse for beef
- A serrated knife
- Cut you eggplant top off first. Then cut the eggplant into evenly sized disks, no more than ½ an inch thick. Sprinkle with salt before pan frying. Do not peel the eggplant, unless you have a preference to.
- Place oil in the pan until a thin layer coats the entire pan and comes up the sides about a ¼ inch. Fry until the inside of the disk darkens in color significantly. Take off of the heat when the inside is soft. Set up a plate on the side with a paper towel over it, and place the disks on the paper towel to rest for at least ten minutes.
- While the eggplant is resting add the ground beef to the same pan, after pouring out some of the excess oil. Either wash the pan, or reuse a small portion of the oil. Cook the ground beef by pressing with a fork until it crumbles. Then add the salt, pepper, chopped parsley, cumin, and garlic. For the garlic, smash it first and then proceed to mince into small pieces with a knife. Cook until browned.
- Once both are done, add the eggplant on top of the beef and enjoy!
All of these recipes can be done without using exact measurements of the spices! Taste as you go. The only thing you need to be precise for is the rice. All of these can be mixed and matched. Try adding the ground beef to the rice or add the taco meat to the roasted veggies. Whatever you choose these recipes are delicious, easy to make, and don’t require a full set-up of supplies. I hope you enjoy!