4 Recipes You Can Make With Just 8 Ingredients

A quick guide to recipes so simple you can make them in Third North.

Beef tagine is great on its own or served on couscous and with Greek salad. (Photo by Andrew Ankersen)

I’ve been cooking since I was 11 and it wasn’t long before I was cooking probably 80 percent of the meals in my family — and no, I can’t actually count the number of times I’ve been told I’ll make some woman very happy one day. After years of mastering my culinary craft, I’ve decided I need a challenge to, how do you say, spice things up? So I’ve set out to make the most dishes possible out of the fewest ingredients, not counting salt, pepper, oil and other kitchen basics.

To make all four dishes you will need to buy the following items from Trader Joe’s — it doesn’t have to be Trader Joe’s, but let’s be real, it’s going to be Trader Joe’s. The idea was that, aside from the three spices, these are things already on your grocery list.

Today’s ingredients are:

  • About a pound of beef, some kind of cheap steak would be best
  • An onion, preferably red
  • Two bell peppers
  • Three potatoes
  • A pack of tortillas
  • One can of crushed tomatoes  
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Paprika
    Ingredients required for the recipes. (Photo by Andrew Ankersen)
    Ingredients required for the recipes. (Photo by Andrew Ankersen)

Recipe One: Beef Tagine
Ingredients:

  • 3.5 ounces beef
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Half an onion
  • One pepper
  • Crushed tomatoes
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Method:
Start by cutting 3.5 ounces of steak, a bell pepper and one potato into bite-sized pieces. Then mince half an onion. With all the knife work done it’s time to move on to the spices. For the basic version of this meal, combine one teaspoon each of cumin and coriander, and half a teaspoon each of ground pepper and salt. If you have any cinnamon, chili powder or ground ginger, feel free to add a pinch of those to.

Now, it’s cooking time! Put a pan on high heat with a tablespoon of oil: when it starts to gently smoke, throw in the beef and cook until it browns — about five minutes with stirring. When your beef is solidly browned, turn the heat down to medium and add the onion and spices. Cook until the onions are soft and the spices are fragrant. Then turn heat to low and add the potatoes, peppers and two tablespoons of crushed tomato and add water until everything is just barely covered. Continue to cook on low heat until the potatoes are tender enough to eat but not mushy — add more water if needed.

This meal is great on its own or served on couscous and with Greek salad.

Recipe Two: Goulash
Ingredients:

  • 3.5 ounces beef
  • Half an onion
  • One potato
  • One can crushed tomatoes
  • Paprika

Method:
Cut the beef and potato into bite-sized pieces and mince an onion. Add the beef to a hot pot and brown. When the beef is fully browned — after about five minutes — add onions and allow them to sweat for a few minutes, then add the potatoes, two teaspoons of paprika, half a can of tomatoes and half a can of water. Leave to cook on low until the potatoes are tender.

Recipe Three: Fajitas
Ingredients:

  • 3.5 ounces of beef
  • One onion
  • One pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Tortilla

Method:
Cut beef, onions and bell peppers into thin strips. Mix together one teaspoon each of cumin and paprika and half a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and if you have it, chili powder is a great addition.

Add beef to a smoking hot pan and brown — anyone seeing a theme here? When the beef is good and brown, add onions, pepper, spice mix and a dash of water. Cook until vegetables are soft and serve on tortillas.

Bonus Recipe: Steak Seasoning

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Coriander

Mix together all four in equal quantities, and if you have any garlic powder or dill, these are also great to add. You can use this rub to season steaks, though it is also good on chicken and baked potatoes.

Email Andrew Ankersen at [email protected] 

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