The most memorable things I cooked in 2017

The last year was a busy one, so I didn’t spend as much time planning out and executing elaborate recipes. I cooked a lot of stand-byes, like pizza, big salads, and tofu bowls. These were the recipes that stood out the most in my memory (many new, one old).

20171118_182557 (2)Sicilian Pizza with Spicy Tomato Sauce. This is, without a doubt, the best pizza I have ever made. The fussiness of the dough and the indulgent nature rule it out as a weeknight regular, but as a special pizza it will forever have a place in my kitchen. You douse the pan in olive oil before stretching out the dough, which essentially fries the bottom of the pizza making for a perfectly crispy crust. I experimented with a few pepperonis and can’t say I found the natural casing pepperoni (which was suggested) to make that much of a difference. I would focus first on using the best pepperoni you can find.

20171220_191201Spaghetti Puttanesca. The amount of flavor packed into this pasta with such a short cooking time is incredible. I suppose you are starting with some punchy ingredients, but the cohesion in the final dish that is not overwhelmed by any one particular flavor is perfect. I also loved the method of cooking the pasta in very little cold water to make an extra starchy water for sauce thickening (plus, water conservation!). I did add in the tuna which was a nice bit of protein, but wasn’t so essential that I would need it every time.

Burrito bowls. I keep falling back on this recipe, at home and elsewhere. I coordinated an event at work where we were making lunch for 15 people, and everyone prepped a different part of the recipe. I also roasted a chicken that we pulled the meat off of, and made some cumin cabbage slaw. We left the yogurt out of the sauce and used 1/2 cup of oil total to keep it vegan.  Everyone built their bowl with what they liked. Depending on how you built your bowl, it could please vegans, vegetarians, gluten intolerants, and meat lovers alike.

20171017_193121Corn dogs. I can’t quite believe I am admitting to making these, but here we are. My roommate asked me if it was possible to make corn dogs, and I thought I would try it as a fun surprise. They were insanely easy (though my batter was way too thick as first, but a little more buttermilk solved everything), surprisingly delicious, and such a crowd-pleaser.

Instant Pot Minestrone. It’s true, I too have jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon. I eased into use by just cooking single ingredients (such as beans or hard boiled eggs), and this recipe was my first attempt at making a whole meal in the pot. You start sauteing the aromatics (With the saute function!! Take THAT slow cooker!) and then add dried beans, water, and potatoes. Tomatoes and kale are stirred in at the end, and I also added pasta and a swirl of pesto when I served it. The fact that I started with dried beans and water, and ended with cooked beans in a wonderfully flavored broth an hour later, was just magical. Electric pressure cookers do have their limitations (mainly size – I could make a much bigger pot of soup on the stove), but their strengths make them a worthy kitchen edition.

20170607_185903Fried butterbeans and pizza beans. Two recipes, one (new to me) excellent ingredient: lima beans. This giant beans have been dubbed “potato beans” in our house. They have a fluffy, creamy interior and are an excellent vehicle for herbs, feta, and pizza toppings (though not all at once). I made these recipes about 6 months apart, and after the pizza beans was asked “Why don’t you make these beans more often??” The people have spoken, and more big beans will be cooked.

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