Most of the time (okay, more than most) I don’t cook using a recipe. And for that reason, I don’t share a lot of what I make with you, even though I really want to. I make some delicious stuff, that’s not a humble brag, it’s true.
I don’t share because people like to follow recipes. I totally get that. Some cooks don’t feel comfortable winging it, or have the confidence to know that it is going to turn out okay. The way I feel about it is, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s inedible and you order a pizza instead. In all of my years of cooking on the fly, there is only one time I can think of that we had to toss what I made and order delivery. (It was a pumpkin and black bean soup. So bad.)
I’m here to tell you that you can cook without a recipe and it will all be alright. (Except when you are baking. When you are baking you really do need to follow the recipe.)
I’m going to start sharing more “no recipe recipes”. What does that mean? It means I am going to give you a framework (i.e. approximate amounts) and from there you are going to turn it into your own version of delicious. How does that sound?
Often when I am cooking without a recipe, I have some frame of reference for what I want the final outcome to be. I was watching the Food Network and Nancy Fuller made something similar to this chicken and pineapple skewer. I’m pretty sure that it had a pesto-like sauce, but I wanted to make my own version and just went with it. I could have just looked up the recipe, but I knew that I could make something close that would be really good. I was right.
I started with the dressing. I used some to marinade the chicken and the rest to drizzle after it was cooked. I had flat leaf parsley and basil on hand, so I tore off two big handfuls and put it in the food processor. Then I grabbed a lemon, zested it and juiced it into the bowl. A splash of apple cider vinegar sounds good. Honey, to balance the acid. A garlic clove. Salt and pepper, and give it a whirl. While the food processor (you can do this in a blender too) running, drizzle in some olive oil. I like my dressings to be more tart and fresh, so I use less olive oil than you would normally use.
The most important thing here – TASTE IT. How does it taste? Does it need more acid? Sweet? Salt? Pepper? Adjust as needed.
Pour some of the dressing into a large Ziploc bag and add 4 cubed chicken breasts. Let it marinade and go about your day. While you are at it, start soaking your skewers in water so they don’t burn on the grill.
Later, add the chicken breasts, a red pepper or two, red onion, and fresh pineapple to skewers. I like to cook all of mine separately, so that you have more control and things don’t overcook or burn.
Grill over medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through, and the veggies cooked to your liking. Drizzle with the remaining dressing.
That was easy, right? Cooking on the fly, without a recipe can be very freeing. Some of the best things I have ever made have started with an idea and nothing else.
- Handful fresh basil
- Handful flat leaf parsley
- 2 Tablespoons raw honey
- zest from one lemon
- juice from one lemon
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil
- 4 chicken breasts, cubed
- 2 red peppers, cut into chunks
- 1 red onion, cut into chunks
- 1/2 fresh pineapple cut into chunks
- To make the dressing, add everything except oil to a food processor or blender and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped. Slowly drizzle in olive oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Add some marinade to a plastic bag. Add chicken and let marinade for 2 hours. Meanwhile, soak skewers in water.
- Thread chicken, pineapple, and vegetables on skewers. Grill over medium heat until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are charred.
- Drizzle with remaining dressing.