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Mar 23, 2012 12:34 AM

Simple Recipes that are Incredibly Delicious!

Have you ever had a dish that was so delicious yet so simple it was like tasting the main ingredient for the first time? There are some great recipes out there that only have a few ingredients, yet when cooked together in the right order and with the right techniques produce magic. If you have one, please share it! Here's mine:

This afternoon I realized that, for whatever reason, I haven't had enough green veggies in my diet the last few days. I went to the refrigerator -- I really do need to go shopping! And then to the freezer... I GOTTA go shopping! But there was a bag of frozen green beans. Ahhhhh..... My favorite old fashioned Turkish green bean recipe... Tereyagli Taze Fasulye! I first had this way back in the '50s when Fatma, my chef/housekeeper made it for me and it was love at first bite! Forget about all of the stuff about undercooked vegetables. This recipe is a very very old traditional green bean "stew" that will knock your socks off.

..............................Turkish Green Bean Stew................................
A medium onion (or an equal amount of shallots) diced or grated. Grated is traditional but it makes me cry, so I chop.

Olive oil and unsalted butter, about a tablespoon of each

About three fresh tomatoes, halved, seeded and sliced. You can also use grape or cherry tomatoes cut in quarters. If you like, the tomatoes can be peeled but I like the little "curls" of tomato skin that result from sliced tomatoes that are diced.

About a pound of fresh green beans, French cut or sliced down the middle OR about a pound of frozen green beans, but when I use frozen I don't like the Frenched as well as whole or cut.

A scant teaspoon of sugar.

Salt and pepper to taste

Water (NOT stock or broth!)

Heat olive oil first, then add the butter to melt. Saute the onions in buttered oil until they're transparent and very lightly golden. Add tomatoes and continue to saute until they begin to break down and the peels curl; this could take up to five minutes depending on your heat. Be careful not to brown. Add green beans, sugar, salt and pepper and about 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to a light boil/heavy simmer and cover with a tight fittting lid and cook for 40 minutes. If the lid on your pan allows steam to escape, check every once in a while and add enough water to keep from burning and reduce heat if needed. At the end of the cooking period the liquid should be reduced to a buttery sauce. Serve hot as a side dish to roasted red meats or poulty.

VARIATION: Add some finely cut fresh lamb (NOT ground!) when you're sauteeing the onions, then proceed with the rest of the recipe. American and New Zealand lamb is so mild it doesn't come up to Turkish or Greek lamb in flavor, so be sure to include all the lamb fat up to half meat and half fat to maximize flavor. The ratio of meat to green beans (before cooking for both) should be about five parts of green beans to one part of lamb max. This makes a delicious main dish with a rice or bulgur pilaf and a salad of sliced tomatoes with olive oil and chopped fresh mint and dill.

If you have a magically simple and simply magic recipe, please share! In the recent past -- month or less? -- I read a thread where someone mentioned a Marcella Hazan "onion sauce" recipe for pasta that was incredibly simple, I saved it and now I can't find it and don't remember the thread. I would love to see that one again. I love recipes in which the sum is so much greater than the parts that it just blows your mind. Got one?

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  1. Much in the same vein and requiring no recipe, long-simmered string beans with onions and ham and a little brown sugar were a revelation to me. To my Northern, Yankeefied palate (although that's this particular life, since I'm sure I was a Southerner in the previous one or two) they were the richest, most umami-laden thing I'd ever eaten. Growing up in a household with transplanted Midwesterners as I was, vegetables were served only a couple ways: raw, as in cauliflower and broccoli w/ California dip; steamed, (which meant almost raw - not crisp-tender and not just-done) or boiled and incinerated to the point of complete unrecognizability. Vegetables weren't something you made WITH other things, because veg. were, other than health reasons, below notice. So the concept that there was this...this Dish that someone actually went to the trouble of preparing a certain way and cooking for a certain time to a desired expected end result did, indeed blow my everlovin' mind. And it remains a favorite to this day.
    Thanks! Nice thread!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mamachef

      I have a serious craving for grandma style simmered string beans but have no clue what I'm doing. Any good tips?

    2. Caroline - Here is the Hazan recipe
      I’m a fan of her recipe and it is as simple as it gets. I like to add a little bit of grated carrot and a whole clove of garlic when I make it.

      I think this is the latest tomato sauce thread
      but there have been lots of discussions about the Hazan recipe over the years. Here are a few…

      11 Replies
      1. re: EM23

        Thanks, EM, but it was a Marcella Hazan onion sauce recipe. I remember reading the recipe and I remember saving it somehow. I just can't find it. But as I recall, it was simply sauteeing onions for a very long time, almost the way you caramelize them for a French onion soup, and then MAYBE doing a little something more and using it as a sauce for pasta. No tomatoes involved. Or there's always the chance I was hallucinating, right? '-)

          1. re: tartetatin

            Yes....!!! TThank you! Thank you!! Thank you! And I see you don't cook the onions quite as long as I thought. Gonna try it! '-)

            1. re: Caroline1

              Someone on these boards had a brilliant method of making caramelized onions in the oven. I didn't write it down when I read about it and now do not remember - of course!

              Anyone knows about it?

              1. re: herby

                I believe it was the first stage of CI's onion soup that illustrated the method in the oven, adapted here:


                and here:


          2. re: Caroline1

            Well Caroline, I see that Tart has hooked you up with the right recipe so clearly you were not hallucinating:-)

            I thought of a few more simply cooked foods that are surprisingly delicious:
            -Crash Hot Potatoes
            -thinly sliced cauliflower tossed with olive oil, s&p and roasted until caramelized and crunchy
            And uncooked – a summer tomato paired with a really fresh burrata or mozzarella and drizzled with a good extra virgin olive oil.

            1. re: EM23

              I made the Hazan dish the other night and it was simple, yet very good. The onions were caramelized for quite awhile, but were left on low and covered for most of the time and then browner at increased heat for a few minutes at the end. Spinach linguine was the vehicle.

              It was delicious - proof that a dish made with a few good quality ingredients can make for complex tastes.

              1. re: tartetatin

                That sounds lovely Tart, especially with spinach linguine. Will try this recipe soon.

                1. re: EM23

                  Highly recommend it EM, btw, crash potatoes and roasted cauli are two of my faves too! Good call!
                  Here in Quebec, where I live, there is a lot of attention paid to good quality ingredients prepared in a simple style with attention to detail. There is nothing like a beautifully prepared piece of beef, pound of mussels or filet of fresh fish.
                  Have you read any of the Ottolenghi cookbooks?

                  1. re: tartetatin

                    No, I have not read any of his books but I do read his recipes on the Guardian. And Tarte, in a kind of crazy coincidence, I bookmarked this recipe (linked below) of his a while back and just yesterday morning added brussels sprouts to my shopping list. How crazy that you would ask me if I have read his books - I hear the Twilight Zone theme song playing in my head…

                    1. re: EM23

                      That looks delicious. I am not quite sure why he came into my mind while I was writing that post. He often uses quite a few ingredients in his recipes, yet his dishes have a simplicity about them and he uses good quality products.
                      I would love to hear how that dish turns out - I love b. sprouts!

        1. Shrimp sautéed in a scampi butter dusted with your favorite bottled Cajun spice mix. Out of this world good. It's what's for dinner tonight, actually. Once the shrimp is thawed, it's about a 10 minute affair from start to finish.

          Another is lamb chops marinated in just Chinese oyster sauce, then grilled. Can't even begin to describe how delicious that is.

          5 Replies
            1. re: mamachef

              Holy cow that does sound good. Wonder how it'd be with veal chops.

              1. re: buttertart

                Then you must needs try it and report.

            2. re: RelishPDX

              Today I put a handful of shrimp (frozen peeled deveined ready-to-roll shrimp) in an individual baking dish, added garlic powder and butter and bread crumbs, and baked about 15 min at 425*. Lovely.

            3. I'm currently obsessed with the perfect baked potato. I cook a lot, of everything, yet realized I'd never baked a potato.

              So I found a recipe on chowhound that called for oiling the spud, sprinkling with salt and baking at 400F for about an hour. Tried it, the house smelled great -- like a lovely delicious potato! It tasted fantastic; the skin was nice and crispy, the inside fluffy and delicious. I've now gone baked potato crazy -- leftover chili? Put it on a potato! Leftover stroganoff? Put it on a potato! Steak tonight? Yep, it's potato time. Home at lunch? Just a potato.

              18 Replies
              1. re: lsmutko

                Aren't they the perfect canvas for just about everything? I love them with non-fat greek yogurt and lots of fresh herbs or sauteed mushrooms.

                1. re: lsmutko

                  Baked potato - do you wrap them in foil?

                  1. re: cstout

                    I doubt that she uses foil. I don't. I poke holes in the potato with a fork, rub it in olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and put the potato directly on the oven rack. If I am cooking something else in the oven, I set it at 350°F. They still come out fine.

                    The foil would keep the skin from getting crispy. The oil helps it get crispy but not dried out. Basically this way... you eat the skin too.

                      1. re: cstout

                        Just a thought, cstout: a potato wrapped in foil doesn't bake - it steams. : )

                        1. re: mamachef

                          Thank you mamachef, I always just rubbed olive oil on them & put them in the oven...guess at 350deg (my favorite number...anything I don't know what to bake, I just go to 350deg). Guess I was baking too long because they always turned out kinda dry to me. I never poked them because I thought that would even make it drier.

                          1. re: cstout

                            You can go as high as 500 deg. I believe Barbara Kafka recommends that temp. Since i am most often using my toaster oven, I like to keep it at 400.

                      2. re: Hank Hanover

                        Yes! to all of the above. Oiling them and rolling in kosher salt is magic. A kind CH poster recommended this to me, and I agree, that doing this makes them great.

                        I also want to recommend an alternate way. JOC suggests splitting the potato in half lengthwise, oiling and baking. I slash the tops and make sure there is plenty of oil on them, esp on the exposed flesh. Baking is time is cut drastically that way, you get less carb because one serving is 1/2 potato, and the tops blister and toast very appealingly. I roast in my convection toaster oven at 400 deg. I don't generally roll these in salt, but I don't know why you couldn't.

                        A properly baked potato can be sublime, even if simply buttered. I fix these for Mr. Sueatmo now.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Potatoes split in half & baked...good idea to speed things up. I don't have a convection oven, but I think it will work in a regular one. Thanks for that idea.

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            I have never used them but there are potato spikes (basically big nails) that you jam into the center of a potato lengthwise. They help the potato get done faster. If you don't want to wait around for an hour, these might work for you.


                        2. re: cstout

                          Absolutely, positively NO foil! You want that crispy skin rubbed in olive oil.

                          1. re: Barbara76137

                            My potatoes will never touch foil again.

                        3. re: lsmutko

                          Hah! Now I know what use that leftover stroganoff sauce on.
                          Ismutko – as a teen my favorite fast food place in England was Spudulike where you could get a baked potato with your filling of choice at any time – day or night. I could never understand why there was never any U.S. equivalent.
                          Anywho, maybe you will get some more topping ideas from them

                          1. re: EM23

                            this is one reason i like wendy's.... baked potato with small chili w/or wo tossed salad on side

                            1. re: betsydiver

                              Our local hell, I mean mall, has a spot in the food court that sells baked potatoes and has a toppings bar....chili, stroganoff, chicken potpie filling, broccoli-cheese, and on and on....most worthwhile place to eat if you should happen to find yourself there.

                              1. re: mamachef

                                hahah. and I thought I was the only one left on the planet that disliked malls.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Are you kidding??? I avoid those like the plague! All that glitters is not necessarily gold. It's all we honestly need more stuff?

                        4. It always amazes me how olive oil, chopped shallot, chopped garlic, canned tomatoes (or really good fresh in season), some shreds of basil and s&p simmered for 20 minutes can become such a delicious tomato sauce. Every time I make it I am amazed. And I make it a lot. I also make more complex sauces with more ingredients but this one delivers so much flavor for such a few simple ingredients.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: Barbara76137

                              + 2 I make this sauce often. It's delish!