There is something to be said about complex recipes that are a true labor of love—the long-simmering, slow-roasting ones. They’re therapeutic. But not everyone has an afternoon to dedicate to the pursuit of fresh pasta or the interest to tackle something elaborate; there comes a time when less really is more. In those instances, all it takes is one hero ingredient and a bit of zhuzhing.
Single-product dishes are the answer to stretching out your supermarket haul. These meals, which range from full-on entrees to midday snacks, will barely make a dent in your pantry. Just add a few sprinklings of staples you already have on-hand (like spices and herbs) and you’ll be all set. Here’s our shopping list.
If You Have Eggs, Make Kayla Howey’s Farm Fresh Poached Eggs
The Extras: Vinegar, salt, and optional parsley for garnish.
The Recipe: This method is all about simplicity: You don’t even have to attempt the dreaded whirlpool. Try it for a dressed-up brunch the next time you need a reminder that weekends do, in fact, still exist.
If You Have Cabbage, Make Julia Sherman’s Whole Roasted Cabbage
The Extras: Butter, salt, pepper, and parsley.
The Recipe: While technically, Sherman meant this for a Thanksgiving main, we see no reason we can’t enjoy the hearty meal year-round. The add-on salsa verde and croutons do require more than one ingredient, but if you want to pare it back to basics, serve a stripped-down version for an impressive dinner.
If You Have Carrots, Make Karen Mordechai’s Pickled Carrots
The Extras: Lime, salt, sugar, olive oil, mint, and thyme.
The Recipe: Somewhere between a pickle and a salad sits this brightly colored, refreshing twist on roasted carrots. It serves six, so you can prep it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for when you need a quick workday lunch.
If You Have Chickpeas, Make Rose & Ivy’s Roasted Spiced Chickpeas
The Extras: Cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, salt, and a neutral oil.
The Recipe: Calling all serial snackers: We found your new best friend. Keep a little pinch bowl of them at your desk to tide you over between meals, and bring them out for your Zoom happy hour. You’ll need something to munch on while you sip your Stanley Tucci Negroni.
If You Have Lemons, Make Evan Kalman’s Insalata di Limone
The Extras: Mint, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and salt.
The Recipe: This salad is peak summer: It’s refreshing, simple, and best of all, no-heat, so you won’t have to spend any time near the stove when the temperature starts warming up. Enjoy as-is, or keep a little jar tucked away to serve over chicken and fish when you’re in the mood for a more involved dinner.
If You Have Melon, Make Mimi Thorisson’s Melon d’Espagne Jam
The Extras: Sugar and vanilla.
The Recipe: Raspberry and strawberry get all the press, but sweet melons make delicious marmalade too. The process is surprisingly easy—it just takes a bit of time for the fruit to macerate—and when it’s done, you’ll have a fresh homemade spread to slather all over that bread you’ve been baking.
If You Have Cheese, Make Natasha Bull’s Saganaki
The Extras: Flour, olive oil, and a lemon.
The Recipe: Saganaki is a Greek fried cheese, typically eaten as an appetizer, but if your ideal meal is a charcuterie board, add this to the mix for some lighter fare. Halloumi, Kasseri, and Graviera are all good options for this—though you can even use feta in a pinch.
If You Have Spinach, Make Aimee Mars’ Garlic Sauteed Spinach
The Extras: Olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, butter, and lemon.
The Recipe: While you can easily eat this on its own (despite being super simple, it’s packed with flavor), the greens also make great add-ins. Mars suggests tossing in some cherry tomatoes, bacon, or even shaved Parmesan—whatever you have handy.
If You Have Tomatoes, Make Sylvie Shirazi’s Heirloom Tomato Salad
The Extras: Salt, basil, parsley, olive oil, and chives.
The Recipe: Thanks to the colors, this plate already looks impressive on its own, but the homemade basil-parsley oil kicks it up a notch. Bring the salad into rotation when you’re craving something lighter. It is almost tomato season, after all.
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