Do you hate to cook?
If you answered no to this question and enjoy meticulously scrolling through Pinterest, planning your meals for the next month or spend hours and hours perusing the aisles at your local grocery store, this is not the column for you. Swipe left and continue on your way.
If you answered yes to this question and were put off by the fact the title of this column even contains the word “cooking,” then hopefully I will have the privilege of capturing your undivided attention for the next five minutes.
Cooking (cook·ing /ˈko͝okiNG/): that thing you have to do in order to obtain enough calories and a fraction of the latest and greatest vitamin and mineral allotments out there.
All students have weeks weighed down with some combination of class, work, meetings, organizations, going out and what seems to be never-ending existential crises. Whatever positive outlook that first cup of coffee in the morning gives you, the next eight to 10 grueling hours is soon awash with the reality of angry emails, annoying cohorts and the barrage of hundreds of things to complete over the next week. When is there time to live, so much as to cook? Well, I can assure you, it’s there.
This is a column for people with shit to do, who have higher standards than ramen or mac and cheese cups (on some nights) and probably have an hour of time that could be reallocated from scrolling through social media or watching TV.
Instead, do those things while standing in front of the stove or a cutting board. I will give you recipes for those moments when you’re in a pinch and have a date in an hour, are feeling healthy and want an exotic salad or are feeling super savvy and want to post a picture on Instagram of that super-delicious-looking bruschetta. These recipes will be painless to make, reasonably priced and, above all, taste great.
If you think inadequate kitchenware is a barrier to entry, I can assure you it is not. I live with 34 other dudes, cook primarily from a two-burner electric hotplate and do not have access to a freezer. That being said, you will need a few essential supplies:
Medium pot with lid
Medium fry pan with lid
Small/medium mixing bowl
Regular drinking glass
Dishes and utensils for two (because who likes to eat alone)
Homemade tomato sauce over penne
This is a recipe near and dear to my heart. My mom taught it to me when I was about 13, and it inspired my future culinary endeavors. This is the perfect dish to showcase your newly discovered cooking skills on a date, with a bottle of wine, some jazzy background music and maybe a candle or two to set the mood (just don’t take it overboard).
Ingredients for two (30 minute preparation):
One 14.5-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
2.5 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red wine (Merlot or Pinot Noir is fine, you can also substitute with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
2 cloves (not bulbs) garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cracked red pepper flakes (more if you want to heat things up)
3-4 servings (it’ll say on the box) penne pasta
Parmesan cheese or goat cheese for garnish (optional)
Peel and mince the garlic — that is, cut it into very small pieces (for more information search mince), and set aside for later use. Begin by boiling 6 cups of water on high heat in your medium pot with 2 teaspoons of salt and cover. Preheat your medium saucepan at medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.
Add olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat up for about one minute. After heating, add garlic and spices. Sautee (basically fry and stir around) garlic and spices for about one minute or until garlic starts to turn brown. Very important: Do not allow the garlic to turn very brown because it will turn your sauce bitter. Right after the garlic starts browning, add the red wine to the pan. The water will start boiling off (reducing).
Wait until half of the wine reduces, then add in the can of diced tomatoes and remaining salt and cover for five minutes. Once your water begins boiling, add pasta to the pot. Make sure to stir the pasta around for a second when you add it in to ensure the pasta does not stick to itself.
Afterward, you can turn the heat down to medium and simmer (that is, not vigorously boiling). The pasta will take about eight minutes to cook. It should be tender but not too soft or falling apart. Drain the water by using the lid and a towel. Revisit the sauce by stirring in the tomato paste, and re-cover the sauce. Continue simmering until the pasta is finished cooking.
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If needed, add salt to taste. Serve the pasta in a bowl, sauce to taste and garnish with parmesan cheese. Accompany with wine, bread, a salad and dessert to make a perfect date.
That is all for now. Please feel free to shoot me an email (Chef Sogs, [email protected]) with questions, comments, concerns or recommendations.