5-Ingredient Recipes for Simple Cooking

Sophisticated in their simplicity, these 5-ingredient recipes celebrate foods’ flavors.

| May/June 2012

  • Simplify your cooking and still get complex flavors like in this Crunchy Buttermilk Pecan Chicken, coated in panko and pecans.
    Photo By Stephen Murello

Would you believe me if I said scallops changed my life? When I was a student at the French Culinary Institute, one of my teachers presented our class with a beautiful display of fresh scallops and gave us a challenge: Come up with the best way to cook them. I remember all of us digging through the pantry, grabbing spices, vegetables, herbs, struggling to come up with innovative and daring combinations that would wow our professor, who’d truly seen it all in his many years of teaching.

We each presented him with our creations, and after he’d dutifully tasted each one, he let us in on a little secret—or rather, a big secret. Turns out his simple challenge was met with a very simple answer: The best way to cook fresh, in-season scallops is to throw them in a dry pan with some salt and pepper. No oil, no fancy herbs, no elaborate sauce, nothing. As the scallops sear, they release their own beautiful flavors—that sweet, rich taste that is the core of the scallop. It was a straightforward lesson but a total game-changer for me. From that day on, I understood that the more ingredients you use, the greater risk you run of losing the essential flavor of your food. 

5-Ingredient Recipes

Buttermilk Pecan Crusted Chicken 

Polenta Fries with Roasted Tomato Sauce 

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