Simple Ingredients Made Spectacular

Taking fresh, simple ingredients and making them into delicious and healthy meals
Terri Ciccone

It's easy to sometimes get wrapped up in the idea of making fancy and complicated recipes, especially to impress friends and family. What home cook doesn't want to show off how much they know or what they're capable of? 

Sometimes, though, it's the simplicity of a dish and the key ingredients that are highlighted that really showcases a cook's talents. Take the sweet potato, for example. An oddly shaped root vegetable with a somewhat grimy exterior. But shave off that skin, cut it into wedges, toss it with some earthy cinnamon, and you've got a killer side dish on your hands. What was once so simple is easily transformed into something fabulous. 

This week we've done just that with numerous ingredients. Spinach becomes a lovely and refreshing salad once wilted with hot oil and mushrooms. Artichokes are quickly grilled and take on a lovely charred exterior. Cauliflower florets become a healthier version of mashed potatoes and are topped with nutty shavings of Parmesan. 

If there's any lesson to be learned today, it's that almost any fresh ingredient can be turned into a tasty and satisfying dish with minimal effort — you just need to learn a few tricks. To learn some, try preparing some of the recipes below and then hopefully you'll be inspired to make some simple and delicious recipes of your own. 

 

Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pinenuts and Cherries

Squash can be intimidating. OK, steam it and serve it as a purée, or peel, cube, and roast it until crispy in the corners, tender inside, and with a rich caramelized exterior...

— Allison Beck

 

Wilted Spinach Salad

Here's a quick and easy appetizer for two, or a light meal for one...

— Will Budiaman

 

 

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Parmesan and Cinnamon

It is essential to have healthy alternatives to favorite junk foods (ahem, french fries) in your recipe repertoire...

— Maryse Chevriere

 

 

Mashed Cauliflower

This dish is a great alternative for mashed potatoes, with a significantly lighter calorie count and the same comforting quality...

— Molly Aronica

 

Romaine Lettuce with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Dressing

Roasting garlic is my new favorite go-to for dinner parties. It's easy to do, especially when you're already roasting something in the oven...

— Yasmin Fahr

Beet and Hearts of Palm Salad

If you're looking for a hearty appetizer that's still refreshing and healthy, you can't go wrong with beets and hearts of palm...

— Ali Rosen

 

 

Sautéed Asparagus

Cleanses, diets, and fasts are just not for me...

— Terri Ciccone

 

Grilled Baby Artichokes with Garlic and White Wine Butter

Big, fat, stuffed artichokes, beer-battered artichokes, and Ball jars stacked to the brim... 

— Francesca Borgognone

 

 

 

Broiled Fish with Maple Glaze, Braised Fennel, and Sautéed Chard

 

I've never been one to detox. The idea of a juice cleanse gives me chills, salads are abore, and I'm downright offended when I see meal replacement shakes... 

— Claire Bullen

 

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