Looking for delicious recipes that can be made in a microscopic kitchen
March 27, 2019 10:18 AM   Subscribe

We are in week 2 of a kitchen remodel. Thanks to guidance received from answers to this question, our essential kitchen items are accessible in the living room and we should have use of the stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher during most if not all of the construction. But prep space is very limited, especially while we have no countertops, so I'm seeking recipes that will be tasty but require almost no prep equipment and space.

For example, last night we made a baked chicken dish that gets basted with a sauce made in a measuring cup. It was great and is one of my favorites, but after that I've got nothing.

We didn't pack away our microwave, small kitchen electrics (can opener, food processor, blender, etc.), some pots and pans, a few mixing bowls, measuring cups/spoons, a cutting board, and a few knives, as well as all pantry items and some seasonings. Plus we're blessed to live in an area with lots of international grocery stores and exotic ingredients don't scare us. We're pretty much omnivores, except we avoid starchy foods because Mr. DrGail is diabetic.

So please pass along your recipes that require no more than a few square feet of space to prepare. TIA.
posted by DrGail to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I cook very simply on weeknights, and we're keto, so we don't eat a lot of "recipes" and just stick to...food. Generally a protein plus 1-2 cooked vegetables or one protein and salad stuff.

One of my go-to proteins is fish, ideally one of the more sustainable ones (use the Monterey Bay app), spread pesto over the top and roast until cooked - this works directly from frozen as well. Often wherever you find jar pesto you can also find jarred sundried tomatoes, which you can whiz into more of a spread with an immersion blender or just hack up tiny on a cutting board, and do the same thing. (This works fine on chicken or pork loin/chops as well.)

We eat a lot of roasted broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, just tossed in oil and salt and roasted hot on a big sheet pan. Finish with any seasonings that might burn - I like smoked paprika and ancho chile powder, or I'll throw minced garlic onto the hot oily pan the second the veg comes out, let sit a couple of minutes, then toss it all together.

Splurge on the microwaveable riced cauliflower, which I can get in 12oz bags frozen in steamer bags or 16oz in the produce/bag salad area and just needs to get stuck in a dish and microwaved.

This is my favorite broccoli cheese soup recipe, and actually you might peruse the whole site because all his recipes are keto and he's generally working in a very small kitchen, with only a small gas hob and a toaster oven.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:56 AM on March 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yotam Ottolenghi has a fried beans and greens recipe that I really liberally adapt and can make in just a large frying pan. I pare it down to canned beans (different types work) + greens (same), add spice + lemon + cheese (feta or parmesan are good options). Serve hot or room temp.

Chili from canned beans is an even simpler one pot meal.
posted by sepviva at 11:06 AM on March 27, 2019

These chickpeas braised in olive oil with lemon and herbs are outstanding and don't require more than a cutting board and an oven. I like it with white beans rather than chickpeas, despite the recipe's warning that they might get mushy (I think the word they were looking for was "velvety", actually).
posted by Lexica at 11:10 AM on March 27, 2019

Premade sauces and spice rubs will be for the win. Grab some canned curry paste and coconut milk and you can make flavorful and tasty food.

Prewashed salad mixers are very easy to turn into meals by adding some baked protein to. Little prep, little mess.
posted by Candleman at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2019

Chicken adobo. 1 pan, the only item that requires refrigeration is the chicken, and there is ZERO prep. My cheats: I use Penzey's minced garlic because shelf-stable (but we buy the two-cup jar for a reason). Traditionally it's served with (jasmine) rice, but really you can pick your grain of choice, and/or it goes really well with baby bok choy, though that does require trimming off the root ends.

For the most part, I buy pre-cut veg from the grocery store, whether frozen or fresh. Especially on weeknights, anything involving a knife and a cutting board just takes way too long.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 12:54 PM on March 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think of these as "quesadillas": the largest tortillas I can find, a can of refried beans (Ducal brand is ideal because it's smooth for spreading and doesn't contain whole beans, but I can't find it any more), and shredded cheese. I use a large butcher knife to spread an even layer of refried beans on one side of the tortilla, sprinkle the cheese on, and heat at 350℉ for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and fold in half. Cut into four wedges and serve with sour cream.

Supermarkets near me have cooked, pre-sliced chicken and beef kept at refrigerator temperatures, which I sometimes toss in. As long as there isn't too much, it will heat up adequately with no changes to temp or cook time. But bean and cheese by itself is pretty good.

If you can devise a means of toasting bread or English muffins you can do a breakfast sandwich with an egg cooked in the microwave: You have to break the yolk but once you've done that the trick is to have the volume of egg thinly spread out - when it's too thick you can get steam building up and hence explosions. So I take one ceramic dinner plate, spray it with Pam or otherwise grease it, place it in the microwave, crack and scramble the egg in place, and then place another dinner place face down on top as a cover just in case of eggsplosion.

With a powerful microwave it can be thoroughly cooked in 45 seconds. Tip the top plate off carefully (so you don't burn your hand or get a face full of steam) and throw a slice of cheese on top which will melt immediately, plus any other ingredients you want.

If the stove is an oven too, and you're going for virtually no carbs at all, foil packets as described here can be good for small spaces, especially if you just combine frozen ingredients with some seasoning.
posted by XMLicious at 1:20 PM on March 27, 2019

This is crazy reliable and has been successfully made in a toaster oven: Roast chicken with caramelized shallots. All you need is the chicken parts, vinegar of choice, olive oil, soy sauce, and chopped shallots. Everyone likes this dish. This dish takes less than 15 minutes of prep and can be done with minimal equipment.

David Lebovitz is SOLID in the recipe department: Here are salads and savory.

When I go camping I got no shame in my game and bring along ready-made Indian Food that is sold in the shops. All you need is a microwave or one pan.

My children really like lazy person's sausage rolls using pre-made puff pastry which is cheap as all get out in Australia. With ready-made puff pastry recipes take out way less freak out and space. Puff parcels of fish always work. The trick to keeping it moist is mayo. Do your fish with any flavor profile and smear the fish with mayo. It stays moist and the puff stays crunchy. This also works with phyllo dough, too. This also works in a toaster oven.

Do you have access to your outdoor grill? Because you have an outdoor kitchen happening if that is the case.
posted by jadepearl at 1:22 PM on March 27, 2019

Another chicken dish for which you will need a minimal amount of ingredients, although it does require a borderline specialty ingredient (which if it is not at your grocery store, you can make yourself, but it will add 2 weeks to the turnaround time).

For each serving, you will need:

1/2 pound of potatoes
Chicken parts; either one leg or two thighs per person
one wedge of preserved lemon (this is the kinda-specialty ingredient, if you can't find it in your grocery store I'll tell you how to make this thing)
a little olive oil, salt, and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the potatoes into chunks and put them in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, add a little salt and pepper and toss a little. Cut the lemon wedge into a few chunks and tuck them among the potatoes. Add enough water to come up 1/2 inch deep in the dish, then lay the chicken pieces on top. Bake for about 45-50 minutes until the chicken skin is crispy and eat right out of the dish.

....I've seen preserved lemon in my supermarket, so you may be able to find it there, but you can make it yourself - get a bag of lemons, a container of kosher salt, and a jar with a lid. Cut about four of the lemons into wedges to start. Drop a tablespoon of salt into the jar, then drop in a couple of lemon wedges and smush them down slightly. Then add another spoonful of salt and another couple lemon wedges. Keep doing that - salt, then wedges, and occasionally pressing down on the lemons to make sure they're packed in lightly - finishing with one last spoon of salt. Then juice enough lemons to make enough juice to cover things over in the jar. Close the jar and leave it on your counter for 2 weeks, giving it a little shake once a day to stir everything up. After two weeks, it's ready; you can stick it in your fridge and it will keep indefinitely.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:55 PM on March 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

I really like this chicken and black bean chili from Smitten Kitchen - I’ve only made it in an Instant Pot, but she also has instructions for a slow cooker or on the stove. As written, the recipe requires a cutting board, but I’ve made it with frozen minced garlic cubes (from Trader Joe’s) and frozen diced onion. You literally just put everything in the pot then turn it on, so it’s very simple prep!
posted by insectosaurus at 2:25 PM on March 27, 2019

I have a few baked chicken recipes which basically entail mixing up a sauce, pouring it over chicken parts (we prefer thighs) and baking them for 45 minutes. Usually served with oven roasted veg or micorwaved frozen veg.

Lemon juice + Olive oil + garlic + rosemary or thyme or oregano

Pineapple juice (I keep a stash of the individual serving cans just for this recipe) + soy sauce + ginger + garlic (ginger and garlic from frozen cubes from Trader Joes)

1 jar apricot jam + honey + chinese hot mustard + soy sauce + garlic (this does better if you can heat it up to melt the jam)

This one is a bit more prep, but worth it. Roll chicken pieces in dijon mustard and then roll them in panko bread crumbs.

This one's in my notes, but I haven't actually tried it yet: place chicken parts on a bed of sauerkraut, top with BBQ sauce and bake.
posted by sarajane at 12:53 PM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a few baked chicken recipes which basically entail mixing up a sauce, pouring it over chicken parts (we prefer thighs) and baking them for 45 minutes. Usually served with oven roasted veg or micorwaved frozen veg.

Omigod this. Yes. I've been doing this kind of thing with chicken breasts as part of my brownbag-lunch stash and it works a treat.

You can even make it easier by doing some batch prep: Set aside like an hour on the weekend, get a family-size pack of chicken breasts and a bunch of quart-size freezer ziploc baggies, and make up a bunch of different marinades. (You can just google "freezer friendly chicken mariande" and you will find scores of them.) Then you just divvy up the chicken breasts among the ziplocs - like one per baggie - and pour in a half cup of one of the marinades into each one, carefully squeeze the air out of each one and then just chuck them in the freezer.

The night before you want to make one, just pull one out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. Then all you need to do when you get home is fire up the oven, open the baggie and dump the contents into a baking dish or pan, and bake. Breasts take only about 20 minutes at 425.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:03 AM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

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