The task of cooking a dish that contains only five ingredients is both a challenge and an opportunity for me. A challenge for obvious reasons – I have a reputation for using herbs and spices, after all – and an opportunity to focus on a delicious thing or two. It also encourages a kind of mindfulness when cooking and provides space to really notice the taste and texture. It also seems like a good resolution for the coming year. And, no: salt, pepper, oil, and garlic (and possibly a lemon or lime) don’t count, okay?
Grilled shrimp with lime and coconut vinaigrette and crispy lime leaves (photo above)
A piece of bread or sticky rice to absorb the sauce is all you need to prepare a meal with these fragrant prawns. If you prefer, replace the lime leaves with curry leaves or basil.
Preperation 15 minutes
to cook 25 minutes
500g of prawns, deveined, head and shell left on, or raw jumbo prawns
60g coconut oil, melted
Salt and black pepper
5 fresh lime makrut leaves, stems removed, leaves minced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
150 ml coconut cream
1 lime, peeled and peeled, finely chopped flesh
Combine the shrimp in a large bowl with a tablespoon of oil and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Put a pan on high heat and, once it starts to smoke, cook the shrimp in two or three batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan, for two minutes per side. Set the shrimp aside and rinse the pan if there are any charred pieces stuck to the bottom.
Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the remaining coconut oil and, once hot, add the lime leaves and fry, stirring frequently, for three minutes, until crispy. Pour into a sieve placed over a bowl.
Return the pan to the heat, add the sifted oil and garlic and sauté for three or four minutes, until fragrant and lightly colored. Stir in the shrimp, 120 ml of coconut cream, a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook, stirring, for four to five minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the cream has thickened slightly.
To prepare the dressing, mix the chopped lime with the remaining 30 ml of coconut cream and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
Arrange the shrimp on a rimmed dish, then pour in the sauce from the pan followed by the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with crispy lime leaves and serve hot.
Charred cabbage with ras el hanout and pistachio butter
Charring is one of my favorite ways to cook cabbage because it caramelizes the outside while retaining the bite of this versatile vegetable. Serve as a snack or starter, or with a soft couscous for a complete meal.
Preperation 10 minutes
to cook 35 minutes
1 medium white cabbage (900g), cut into 8 wedges across the heart
Salt and black pepper
110 ml olive oil
300g Greek yogurt
100g unsalted butter
2½ tsp of ras el hanout – I like the Bart brand
80g shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, finely grated zest, to make 1½ teaspoon, then cut into 4 wedges, to serve
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage wedges in a tablespoon of oil and half a teaspoon of salt, using your fingers gently to work the salt between the leaves.
Put three tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, place four cabbage wedges, cut side down, and cook for six or seven minutes, until nicely browned. . Flip over to the other cut side and repeat. Reduce the heat to medium if the cabbage wedges are coloring too quickly; you want them to soften slightly while still keeping a bite. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with three more tablespoons of oil and the remaining four cabbage wedges. Rinse and dry the pan.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, the last teaspoon of oil, a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper.
Return the pan to medium heat, add the butter and, once it is melted and frothy, add the ras el hanout, pistachios, a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook while stirring. often for about a minute, until fragrant and pistachios are lightly toasted. Pour this mixture over the cabbage and toss gently to coat.
Spread the yogurt on a large rimmed dish. Arrange the cabbage wedges over the yogurt, drizzle with the remaining butter mixture from the cabbage bowl, then sprinkle with lemon zest. Squeeze over one of the lemon wedges and serve with the rest on the side.
Orecchiette of caramelized onions with hazelnuts and sage
It’s a great pasta dish when you don’t have much in the pantry. Like cacio e pepe, it’s one of those dishes that smells so much more than the sum of its parts. Other nuts will also work well (walnuts or almonds are especially good), if that’s all you’ve got.
Preperation 15 minutes
to cook 50 minutes
105 ml olive oil
20g Sage leaves
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced (320g)
250g orecchiette (or casarecce or small conchiglie)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoon lemon juice
50g of hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Put the oil in a large sauté pan with the lid on and place it over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sage leaves and fry, stirring often, for about four minutes, until dark green and crispy, then pour them into a sieve over a small bowl. Pour two tablespoons of sage oil in a small pan and set aside.
Return the sauté pan to medium-high heat, pour in the remaining sage oil from the bowl and, when hot, add the onions and sweat, stirring regularly, for 25 minutes, until golden brown. but not dark. Pour the pasta into the pot, add 700 ml of room temperature water, a teaspoon and a quarter of salt and a quarter of a teaspoon of crushed black pepper, and mix. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with another quarter of a teaspoon of crushed pepper, cover again and set aside.
Put the small pan with the reserved sage oil over medium heat, add the hazelnuts and sauté gently until golden brown. Spread the nuts and oil over the pasta, sprinkle with crispy fried sage leaves and serve hot straight from the pan.