Skip to main content


Photos: James River Media

Summer Cooking Made Easy

Does anyone out there adore grocery shopping?! Well, kudos to you if it’s your thing, but for this gal, it’s not a fun time! I would wager that most of you readers fall into my camp. How about going grocery shopping without a mile-long list? Better, right? I can almost hear the sighs of relief! These five-ingredient recipes will allow you to grab the small basket instead of the industrial-sized cart. 

First, here are some ground rules: salt, pepper, butter and olive oil do not count as ingredients (because you don’t buy those during every grocery trip). If we all agree, let’s see what’s cooking! These recipes are simple, flavorful and fun to make. They all can be easily made, so you have more time at the pool or in the garden this summer. Enjoy!

Crispy Butter Bean, Mushroom and Date Salad
Calling all vegetarians: this salad is easy and uses only one skillet — win, win! This dish is great for a weeknight when you want to feel like you are getting a good helping of veggies but still want to have a hearty meal. Some substitutions I make are using gnocchi instead of butter beans, mixing up different types of mushrooms or adding roasted pine nuts to the top.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups mushrooms, chopped (use your favorites)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 large Swiss chard leaves, remove stem and torn or chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 ½ cups canned butter (lima) beans, rinsed and drained 6 dates, pitted and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet on medium high heat, add olive oil, mushrooms and salt. Toss together. Cook until mushrooms are softened with crispy edges and most of the water is gone. Add the garlic and Swiss chard and toss one more time. Set aside. 

In the same pan, on medium heat, add the butter and beans. Toss together and crisp up, about 5-7 minutes. Toss in dates and heat through. Turn the heat to low and add all the ingredients back into skillet and toss gently. Cook for 1 more minute to heat through and season to taste.

Browned Butter & Tomato Fettuccine
Perhaps the most simple, decadent and quick weeknight pasta out there! You can find all sorts of versions of a tomato sauce, but this one has five ingredients, takes about 10 minutes to cook and is packed full of flavor. I also like to “cheat” a little and top with parmesan, but in the spirit of five ingredients instead of six, here it is. You can decide on how rebellious you want to be! 

  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • I cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta just shy of desired tenderness. Take off 1 minute from your “normal” cooking time. Save 1 cup of pasta water for sauce and drain pasta. 

While water is boiling, melt butter in a sauté pan and cook on medium while swirling gently until browned, not burned, and until it smells fragrantly nutty! Turn your heat off and add tomato paste and garlic, and whisk in to incorporate. Note: the mixture will look slightly separated, but don’t panic. Bring back to low heat and stir in heavy cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta and pasta water and toss until coated. Allow to simmer for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Creamy Corn and Ricotta Tart
This tart recipe is creamy, sweet and totally summer ready! The ingredients are simple and a fan favorite in my house. The kiddos devour it, and it is super easy to modify with the addition of fresh herbs and cheeses! 

  • 1 pie crust (store bought is fine)
  • 3 ears corn, removed from cob
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

In a 9” pie or tart pan, roll out the pie crust and line with parchment and pie weights (or dried beans) to weigh down. Partially bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, add butter and corn to a skillet, on medium high, and cook until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat to cool. Season to taste with kosher salt. Add the eggs, cream and salt to mixing bowl and whisk until combined. 

Stir in the corn to the egg mixture and add to the tart crust. Dot the top of the tart with dollops of ricotta. Bake for another 45 to 50 minutes. Top with ground pepper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *