The art of cooking simply has always been difficult for me.
I can still remember the first meal I planned for my new husband and myself after we got back from our Italian honeymoon in 2005. Upon returning to our new apartment, which I hadn’t even begun to settle into amidst all the wedding preparation, I flipped through cookbooks and found two recipes that sounded like they would be perfect for a fall weeknight dinner: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic and Butternut Squash and Sage Pasta.
Little did I realize at the time that such a dinner would require advance planning, with each individual recipe taking plenty of time to prepare and cook. Yet in the flurry of returning to work as a morning news writer and producer (a job that required me to leave for work when my husband was going to bed at night) and adjusting to a new life with a new husband in a new apartment, I hadn’t even thought to shop for ingredients in advance.
I quickly learned that if I was going to plan the meals in our household—something I had been looking forward to—I had to get to work. However, I couldn’t help but add an elaborate touch to my weekly meal planning, getting bogged down with complex recipes and scheduling recipes too rigidly.
These days meal planning is much more relaxed. I’ve found that as long as we have a protein and a vegetable on hand, we can create something delicious using our imaginations and drawing from our cooking knowledge. Plus, having established a repertoire of tried-and-true recipes along with an intimate knowledge of many cookbooks, I can choose a few seasonally-appropriate meals over the course of the week and shop for whatever ingredients we don’t already have in our pantry or refrigerator.
Such progress served me well last week when I was having my sister-in-law over for dinner while my husband was away on a business trip. I had two requirements as I considered the meal: It had to be simple and quick to prepare, and it had to be delicious. I remembered a recipe that I had discovered years ago in an Italian cooking magazine—penne all’arrabbiata. Requiring no more than a handful of ingredients and 30 minutes in the kitchen including prep, it was perfect. Dessert was its sister in simplicity: Fresh berries served over honey-sweetened yogurt with ginger cookies.
Honeyed Yogurt with Berries and Ginger Cookies
An Outside Oslo original
3 ounces plain Greek yogurt (please use 2% or higher here–the nonfat version just doesn’t do the recipe justice)
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 ounces fresh raspberries
2 ginger cookies
Stir Greek yogurt and honey together in a bowl, adding more honey as needed to suit your tastes. (Don’t add too much–you should still be able to taste the tang of the yogurt.) Divide between bowls and arrange raspberries on top, garnishing with cookies on the side.
Serves 1, but can easily be multiplied.