Sep 3 2014

Kitchen Confidential: Big Girl Noodles

by Kathryn Budig

I have 4 major genres in my life that make my world go round: love (both romantic and platonic), work (the struggle is real), yoga (I know, total shocker), and last but not least—FOOD.

photo 2I simply adore food. I love to eat, cook, explore restaurants, try different cuisines around the world, indulge and also nourish. I started cooking as a teenager and have since soaked up information like tofu holds flavor. The kitchen is an incredibly cathartic place for me whether I’m chefing it up for a table full or guests or spreading almond butter on toast. If I’m home, I cook everyday. It’s law. Aside from the fact that it soothes my soul and belly, I love seeing everything that goes into my food. No preservatives—everything came from it’s original source. I know I’m doing my body right by feeding it REAL food. While I know I have plenty of people who feel the same way, many people are intimidated by the kitchen. My father, for example, pours a mean bowl of cereal but would roll into a confused fetal position if you asked him to turn on the grill. Can this be fixed? Well, for my father (bless his water boiling heart) probably not, but here’s a little secret:

It doesn’t need to be fancy to be good.

There are some extravagant recipes out there which taste like heaven, but some of the best meals I’ve ever had or prepared are sinfully simple. We’re talking 5 ingredients or less. For example, remember when you were a child and nothing was more gourmet than buttered noodles with salt? Let’s face it—it’s still damn good, but that’s the frame of mind I want you to have if you’re a newbie to the kitchen. Here are a few things to think about if you’re ready to belly up to the bar and see what your stove can produce.

*Don’t cheap out on ingredients*

There’s the joke, “Whole Foods=Whole Paycheck”. While this is legit, you really don’t want to skimp on certain ingredients. For example, olive oil. Don’t go buy the cheap stuff and wonder why even your dog turns down your leftovers. You need to buy the good stuff. Look for extra virgin ALWAYS. My go to is a divine Italian line called Lucini. My second favorite is an Arbequina olive oil which comes from Spain. If you use one of these as your base, you’re solid.

*Use good salt*

Toss the table salt. Go buy yourself some pink salt, good sea salt or Maldon crystals. The Maldon (the name of the company) is used to finish off meals, but I love it so much I sneak it in anywhere I can.

*When possible, always use fresh herbs*

Fresh herbs take a decent meal to amazing in seconds. Fresh basil, italian parsley, chives, cilantro etc are all fantastic. Most of these herbs are quite easy to grow on your porch so you can always have them handy to top off your meal.

*Use seasonal fruits/veg*

It’s still summer and the tomatoes are stunning! Visit your farmer’s market so you know you’re getting good local, fresh produce.

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Big Girl Pasta

Okay, let’s put it all together. Boil your favorite kind of pasta (regular, brown rice, you name it). Throw your pasta in a sauté pan with a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil. Halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes and toss into the pan. Sprinkle the entire party with good salt and sauté at medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and created their own ‘sauce’. Pour into your bowl and top off with your favorite fresh herbs—I’d recommend chives or basil. Dig in!

Seriously, it’s that simple. I was short on time for lunch and wasn’t feeling so great, so I made this staying simple. It’s my big-girl version of buttered noodles and always brings a smile to my face. Hope this helps you over the scary cooking hump. Bon appetit!