Simple meals don't have to be boring. It's flavour and variety that makes food interesting, and you can boost both, easily!
How to jazz up your go-to weekday meals
I was talking to a dear friend last week (and of course, cooking came into the conversation), and she said: "I've got some really nice cookbooks but most of the time I don't cook much, just simple stuff." Turns out the 'simple stuff' usually involves a piece of fish with vegetables. This really got me thinking: why is it, that a perfectly proper home-cooked meal of, say, said fish with vegetables, is waved off as 'not much cooking'?
I can think of two reasons (if I'm missing something, please tell me!):
We think that 'proper' cooking has to be a 'special production' with fancy recipes and all the trimmings.
We find our simple meals simply boring: if a meal is not flavourful or varied enough it won't feel satisfying, hence not considered 'proper'.
I have written about the first stumbling block before - more of a question of mindset and confidence rather than cooking. If you find yourself stumbling at the second hurdle, let me assure you: Simple meals don't have to be boring! It's flavour and variety that makes food interesting, and you can boost both, easily, even with 'simple' meals.
Here are some ideas to liven up things a bit: For the sake of argument I'll stick to my friend's 'fish with vegetables' example, but you could easily substitute with either quick cooking meat (e.g. chicken pieces), or tofu or beans/lentils/chickpeas for a vegetarian or vegan meal.
Jazz up the flavour
To pan-frying/bake/grill your fish consider these ideas:
Marinate before cooking (try olive oil/lemon/herbs or olive oil/soy sauce/ginger)
Put a spice crust on top (mix olive oil with spices and bread crumbs/polenta)
Smear on a (ready made) spice paste before cooking (e.g. harissa, thai curry paste, pesto, olive paste...)
Add a tasty sauce or dressing to serve with (see below)
For a more poached/steamed style dish, perhaps try these ideas:
Bake in a foil or paper bag with some liquid (e.g. wine) plus herbs/veggies - all the flavour stays in the bag!