When less is more: limited ingredient cooking

You don’t need an endless list of ingredients to make a great recipe. That said, usually the list of ingredients in a recipe includes more than four or five things.

Not the recipes I’m sharing today! Both recipes have five ingredients or less.

When a recipe can be pared down to just a few components, and the end result tastes darn delicious, it’s usually a keeper – for a couple reasons. First, because of its simplicity, and second, because the ingredient list and preparation method can probably be remembered without having to refer to the recipe. What a bonus when you’re wandering through the grocery store after work, wondering what to make for supper!

My first (or perhaps most memorable) introduction to minimal ingredient cooking was years ago with a recipe for Apricot Glazed Chicken. This easily assembled dish was made by pouring a mixture of Russian dressing, apricot jam and onion soup mix over chicken pieces, then baking the chicken in the oven or a slow cooker. I made this recipe repeatedly, because it was easy and tasty, and the ingredients needed were etched on my brain.

I’ve shared the recipe for the slow cooker version of Apricot Glazed Chicken below, along with a another favourite minimal ingredient go-to recipe – Fusilli with Sautéed Eggplant and Feta Cheese.

Sometimes less is more, and keeping it simple makes delicious sense!

Apricot-Glazed Chicken
(Makes 8 to 12 servings)

I’ve made this recipe in a 5 qt (5 L) slow cooker, making 3 layers of 4 chicken breasts halves.

1 cup (250 mL) apricot jam
3/4 cup (175 mL) Russian (or French) dressing
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
12 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

In a medium bowl, stir together jam, dressing and soup mix until well blended.

In the bottom of a 3 1/2 qt (3.5 L) slow cooker, arrange 3 chicken breast halves. Spoon a quarter of the apricot mixture over top. Repeat with 3 more layers of chicken with apricot mixture between layers.

Cover and cook on High for 1 hour. Reduce to Low and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until chicken is tender.

Serve sauce over chicken. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.

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Fusilli with Sautéed Eggplant and Feta Cheese
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1 lb (about 450 g) uncooked fusilli pasta
1/2 lb (250 g) feta cheese
1 medium eggplant
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 mL) olive oil
1 jar (700 to 750 mL) chunky pasta sauce

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook fusilli according to package directions.

While fusilli is cooking, cut or crumble feta into approximately 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces; set aside. Dice eggplant into 3/4-inch (2 cm) pieces. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until eggplant softens and begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce and feta cheese; heat through.

Drain pasta. Toss gently with sauce and serve.

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