Drop the cookbook and put down your phone. (Well, once you're done reading this.) If you're eyeballing a recipe to make tonight or in the near future and looking at ingredient lists, pouring over steps, and making things otherwise much harder on yourself than they need to be, these words of wisdom are for you:
You don't need a recipe for everything.Trial and error is what cooking is all about. For a lot of dishes, recipes are a lot more like guidelines than strict rules anyway. Once you know some basic cooking principles, you can often "freehand" a lot of things once you have an idea for what you wanna make.
A recipe says to you, "Hey, I've done this before, this is how I did it, and I liked it. You might like it, too." And eventually you check it out and give it a try in the hopes that you feel the same way. Not digging a recipe? Change it up. Our review sections are full of users who have done just that. That doesn't mean you failed at the recipe, it means you got creative and/or didn't want to run to the store for that one ingredient you didn't already have on hand.
One of my favorite things to make, and I mean a real favorite, is a big huge batch of toss-in-whatever-you've-got chili. When I have an abundance of vegetables in my fridge, I know that the possibility of a really awesome chili or other stew is on the horizon--no recipe required. It's one of those tried and true dishes that you can't screw up. So, in honoring this spirit of throwing-sh*t-together, I present to you 5 foods that you actually don't need a recipe to make--and make well. All you need is hunger, creativity, and a willingness to taste as you go.
pepperoni pizza baked potatoes.
slow cooker is truly your friend on this one, because slow cookers let flavors meld for a long time over lower heat, allowing you to get a higher amount of flavor out of very simple ingredients. Suddenly, a simple ragtag group of produce scraps and leftovers from the week come together to form one big pot of deliciousness.
savory train. Combine dried oatmeal with the required amount of liquid (you can use water, some milk, or chicken stock for savory), cook until tender and the liquid is absorbed, then stir in your own favorite add-ins and pile on the toppings.
sandwich on top of one. You can toss in cheeseburger chunks or fruit that you might never think to eat with vegetables. You can experiment with different dressings and pile on the grains, nuts, leftover roasted veggies, shaved raw veggies, cheese, etc. to your heart's content. Salads are the ultimate toss-in-what-you-have kind of deal and we love them for it. Salads are a great place to experiment with new flavor combos.
PastaThe pasta category is definitely one that doesn't require extensive recipes for great results. Pasta absorbs the flavors of ingredients around it, so all kinds of sauces and fresh veggies are perfect in a pasta. Some of the best pasta dishes of all times are dressed in the simplest ways--with little more than oil and cheese. Also, because anyone who's ever boiled pasta has accidentally boiled enough noodles to feed an army at some point, getting creative with the leftovers is a great exercise in resourcefulness. You can always add in some fresh ingredients and drizzle on a simple vinaigrette, then chill in the fridge for a refreshing pasta salad the next day. Experiment with different ingredients and you'll find something that you love.
Everyone has that favorite dish or meal up their sleeve that they never use a recipe for. What's yours? Let us know in the comments below.