Minimalism is quite the trendy word in 2016, and it got us thinking: what does minimalism mean when applied to the kitchen? In our latest podcast, we interview Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha, graphic designer and self-proclaimed “Minimalist”.
What is minimalist cooking? Melissa explains that to her, minimalism is:
- Focusing on high-quality ingredients and simple flavoring (sometimes olive oil and kosher salt is all it needs!)
- Cooking with pantry ingredients and sub-ing in vegetables you have onhand
- Keeping kitchen gadgets to the bare minimum
- Keeping the spice drawer tidy (like keeping your favorite 24 spices onhand)
- Organizing the pantry with bulk ingredients in large, clear jars for easy access
Our interview with Melissa on the A Couple Cooks podcast is below; the show also features tips on designing a meal and inspiration for cleaning out your spice drawer (and don’t forget to listen for the blooper at the end!).
We’ve also included a list of ten healthy, simple minimalist weeknight meals from our website and Melissa’s for inspiration. As a note, we’ve read many articles claiming to have the best lists of weeknight meals that end up sounding completely un-doable; below are the top concepts of recipes we’ve actually successfully used on a weeknight.
Ten Healthy, Simple Minimalist Weeknight Meals
1. Pasta: Balsamic Pasta | The Faux Martha Pasta is quick cooking and therefore a great choice for weeknight eats. Try whole wheat pasta paired with some seasonal vegetables and greens. Here, a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette is used as the pasta sauce.
2. Soup: Tomato Artichoke Lentil Stew | A Couple Cooks Nourishing soups and stews are perfect for a weeknight, especially in cooler weather. This one is relatively quick cooking and uses several pantry ingredients like lentils, canned tomatoes, canned artichokes.
3. Stuff with a Fried Egg: Fried Eggs with Bulgur and Spinach | A Couple Cooks Putting an egg on top makes any meal better, right? We love sauteing up random fridge and pantry items and topping them off with a fried egg. In this recipe, we’ve added some bulgur wheat, a quick cooking grain that only requires some boiled water and 20 minutes of soak time (no cooking required!).
4. Noodle Bowls: Amazing Soba Bowl | The Faux Martha A bowl of soba noodles with fresh vegetables and peanut sauce is simple, colorful and comforting. This bowl uses frozen edamame and peanuts to keep it filling, and the peanut dressing is bursting with fresh flavor.
5. Quesadillas: Greek Quesadillas | A Couple Cooks Quesadillas are a perfect super simple dinner that can stay relatively healthy with minimal cheese and fresh ingredients. This version has a Mediterranean flair, with black olives, red peppers, and oregano.
6. Rice Bowls: Chickpea Indian Bowl | The Faux Martha “Stuff in bowls” is our way of life, and this Indian rice bowl is a stellar example, full of pantry spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and ginger. Rice bowls on the weekday may require white rice if you’re in a time crunch, but use brown rice if you think ahead.
7. Fried Rice: Market Vegetable Fried Rice | A Couple Cooks Speaking of rice, the best way to use leftovers for a quick meal is stir-frying them with the leftover vegetables in the fridge and (you guessed it) some eggs. While this requires leftovers, it works with any cooked grain you have onhand.
8. Fancy Sandwich: Mediterranean Loaded Veggie Sandwich | A Couple Cooks Sometimes just adding some fancy ingredients to a sandwich turns it into a delectable dinner. This sandwich uses hummus (or a white bean dip, made in advance) with red onion, carrots, feta cheese and some pea shoots we happened to have on hand to turn it into more than “just a sandwich”.
9. Curry: Cauliflower and Tomato Coconut Curry | A Couple Cooks This one-skillet meal involves a bit of chopping on the front end, but it cooks relatively quickly and is full of flavor, with a significant portion of the ingredient list being pantry spices.
10. Pita Pizzas: Roasted Red Pepper Pita Pizzas | A Couple Cooks When we’re feeling minimalist, we turn to pita bread or naan for our pizza crusts. Use a canned tomato sauce and toppings of your choice to top your crust (be sure to pre-bake for a few minutes first to ensure a crispy base). Or, try the complex sauce in this recipe using the jarred red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes that might be lurking in your pantry.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.