What You Should Cook In Your 20s and When

Cooking is a great way to save money and impress people you’re trying to sleep with. It’s also fun and satisfying, if you have adequate kitchen space and don’t have to put a cutting board on your ottoman just to chop some fucking vegetables. Here are some recipes I’ve picked up that I can rely on in a variety of situations.

Pasta with Roasted Puttanesca(ish) Sauce

Make it When: Your rent is due tomorrow and you can only afford canned food. Your roommate is gone for the night with her boyfriend and you’re single as fuck and you want dinner to come in a bowl that you can eat from on the couch while you get wine drunk and cry over Parenthood.

Method: Preheat oven to 425. Get a big glass baking dish and pour some olive oil in it. Open a big ass can of whole peeled tomatoes (28 ounces, I think) and dump the whole thing in there. Fork some holes in them (heh) so you can crush them without getting tomato juice on your walls. Cut up half a stick of butter into pats and throw those in there. Add lots of peeled and crushed garlic cloves (you’re super alone, it’s fine), some capers, and a shake of red pepper flakes. Put it in the oven for 45 minutes. At some point when it’s in there, remember that you need to make pasta too and cook that. When you take the sauce out, use a fork or potato masher to mush and mix it all up until it looks like fucking tomato sauce. Pour it over the pasta, mix, and throw the whole tub of Parmesan cheese on top because you deserve it, you goddamned beautiful disaster.

Omelet With Stuff in Your Fridge

Make it When: You decide to be economical and cook from what you have instead of ordering from that Indian place on Seamless again. It’s Saturday morning and you think you should be a grownup and eat a proper breakfast.

Method: Mix three eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk and whatever other condiments and herbs you want. I like mustard but do whatever you want, I don’t give a shit. Some people like fresh sage. My mom used to add dried parsley. It’s really hard to screw up eggs so go crazy. Get your other ingredients together. Pretty much everything is good in an omelet so again, go crazy. Pour the eggs into a pan on low-medium heat and get your spatula. When the bottom of the eggs starts to solidify, wedge your spatula between it and the edge of the pan and try to let the runny eggs on top flow to the bottom so they cook. When all the eggs look just undercooked, put your fillings in there and psych yourself out for flipping it. When you do, and it inevitably tears in half in the pan, say fuck it and make it into a scramble. This isn’t a restaurant and you’ll get it by the time you’re a real adult.

Salmon with Mushrooms and Greens

Make it When: Your whole life is falling apart and you just want to feel like you can at least make something virtuous for dinner. You’ve been eating nothing but dollar pizza and cereal for the past week and you feel like literal trash because you are. You and your significant other have decided you’re going to “eat better” and it’s only been three days since then so you’re still really committed. Cute.

Method: Preheat the oven to 450. Get a baking sheet and line it with tinfoil because life is hard enough without scrubbing burnt sugar and fish skin. Drizzle some olive oil and stick your salmon fillet onto it, skin side down. Pull out any bones you find. Rub salt, pepper, and sugar onto the fish. Maybe like two pinches salt, one of pepper, and two of sugar. Put it in the oven for fifteen. When you’re maybe seven minutes out, throw half a container of sliced mushrooms into an olive oiled pan on the stove. Medium heat. Chop a couple cloves of garlic and throw those in too. When the mushrooms are browned, throw in your greens. I like pak choy because the crunchy stems go well with the soft fish and mushrooms, but do whatever you want. The point is to get greens in you because let’s be honest it’s been a while. You have to stop eating so much garbage. Just because you’re trash doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Anyway, roughly chop your greens and if you’re using something with thick stems put those in first. When they’re cooked to your liking add the leaves and wilt them. Check on the salmon. If you want the top a little crispier, turn the broiler on for a few minutes. Use a spatula to get the salmon off the baking sheet, the skin should come right off.

Roast Chicken

Make it When: You’re feeling like “You know what? I’m a goddamned adult and I’m gonna throw a classy ass dinner party. I’m gonna roast a chicken and it’s gonna be cozy and delightful.”

Method: Call your mom. Ask her how to roast a chicken. Even if she’s an empty nester now and only eats takeout she’ll know this one thing. Also, you should call her more often. She misses you. She watched an episode of Girls by accident a few nights ago and now she’s just really worried, sweetie. Is the city really like that? Reassure her that you’re doing fine, you’re having friends over for dinner! If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even try to get her on Skype so she can see what you’re doing and tell you your apartment is too small, how can you live in there?

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