Keep It Simple

Sometimes, all I need is a foundation and lunch or dinner nearly makes itself. Since the idea of a meal that just sort of builds itself is pretty appealing, I have a few go-to foundations like eggs, rice, or potatoes. Potatoes, in particular, are my comfort food. Since baking a potato is pretty simple work, I can spend my time and energy on making toppings that transform a lowly spud into a truly delightful meal:

The version pictured above involves button mushrooms sautéed in bacon fat with garlic and green onions, then seasoned liberally with smoked paprika. Once nestled on a baked potato, the only thing left was a sprinkling of crumbled chèvre and dinner was done. I'd used several items in my refrigerator that wanted using and I had a delightful dinner in a bowl. The wonderful flavors involved in this combination lent itself to being paired with a strong red wine, too. Not bad for a Monday, eh?

But this post isn't about a recipe. It's not even about potatoes, per se. It's about finding that foundational ingredient and thinking about how to expand upon it in a way that brings a lot of flavor to the table without a lot of work. Even the most passionate cook wants a quick and easy meal now and then. And it's even better when that foundation more or less takes care of itself, leaving you to spend some time thinking about how to highlight a favorite flavor, seasonal ingredient, particular seasoning, or the like. You might be thinking about how to give eggs a Mediterranean flare or rice an ever-so-slightly crunch. The point is to know you've got a reliable base and move beyond that with your energy.

When I'm cooking simple like this, I don't focus on sides. More often than not, there are none. If there are, they tend to consist of raw fruits or vegetables that pair nicely with the rest of what I'm working on. Really, I'd rather keep it … you know, simple!

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