Sometimes you simply want an easy meal. When company is coming in an hour and you still need to pick up or your kids bring home an extra friend or two from school and they ask to stay for dinner and you haven’t even thought about dinner yet? Having that box of pasta, jarred sauce, and some meat in the freezer can come in handy. But, how to make it look like the magazines instead of the bland spaghetti you serve all the time? Just a few ingredients to keep on hand can change the look of any meal.
The above was made in about 20 minutes with bow tie pasta, jarred sauce, and sausage links. All I added was a bit of torn basil and freshly shredded Parmesan cheese to the top of the dish and it suddenly looks like a whole new meal!
What I keep on hand to “Dress-Up” Our Meals:
- Fresh Basil – Is wonderful. It makes your Italian dishes smell amazing, taste great and look delicious! You can buy a small plant and keep it in your window to pluck leaves off from time to time or buy in a small package in the produce section of your grocery store.
- Parsley – I tend to use dried parsley from the spice section of the grocery store more than the fresh because it tends to go bad on me before I can use it all. Either fresh which looks gorgeous on plates and adds a hint of freshness to the dish or dried which adds a bit of color to your dish can go a long way in making a dish look as good as it tastes.
- Ground Black Pepper – I love having a grinder with fresh black peppercorns on hand. You can change the size of the grind to as large or small as you like. A grind of fresh black pepper raises the dish in looks and flavor to a new level.
- Parmesan Cheese – Yes, the green can cheese can be inexpensive but it has tons of fillers and little flavor. Buying a wedge of Parmesan cheese and grating it yourself (or shredding it) can add more flavor and make your dish look delicious. With the fresh cheese you can use far less than you would have of the canned stuff so in the end it comes out about the same price with a better taste.
- Coarse Sea Salt – Just like with the black pepper a sprinkle of coarse sea salt can raise the flavor and look of a dish. With a sprinkle of salt across the dish you don’t need much at all to get the great look and flavor you are looking for.
Give one or two of these a try on your next dish.