Simplicity has become my learned cooking mantra since falling in love with a passionate foodie/oenophile Roman. Add my food/wine-obsessed self and you better understand that we are profoundly on the same page in our “pleasure principle” approach to life. Life is too short not to eat/drink beautifully
My early experience with cuisine consisted of either home-cooked American favorites or haute cuisine as practiced in restaurants devoted to French gastronomic flights of fancy…truly at opposite ends of the spectrum. Both cooking techniques result in complicated, multi-layered recipes that take a whole lot of effort to produce…the French approach more refined, perhaps. lol

So imagine my discovering a whole other world of food in bella Italia! Wait a minute, you mean that tomato sauces are NOT supposed to be (over) cooked for hours? (unless they are a ragu) That actually the majority of pasta dishes can be prepared, start to finish in 30-40 mins or less? Quelle horreur!
In Italy, simplicity is the prime directive: use the best quality ingredients, cook them quickly/simply so that they still resemble their fresh selves and achieve a flavor profile that highlights only a precise few notes. This was a revelation for me – eating a gorgeous, fresh tomato sauce on homemade pasta was like the scales had fallen from my eyes and I could truly taste for the first time.
In many ways, this has changed my own approach to “switchin’ in the kitchen” (quote lifted from my linguistically-inventive father). I use mostly fresh herbs (some even home-grown) and try to use techniques that let the ingredients shine through.
This specific dinner was inspired by my fave food porn, Top Chef. The culinary contestants were given chicken, potatoes and onions and told to create something sublimely simple. I decided to give myself the same challenge – and behold, made a straightforward and tasty meal (but added a green vegetable because no meal is complete without at least one). From prep to plate – 1 hour!

As a starting point I used the roast chicken recipe at one of my fave foodie blogs, Smitten Kitchen. And because of an earlier facebook rant defending my love of brussels sprouts, I searched for a new preparation for this under-rated veggie…found it at one of my go-to recipe sites, Epicurious. I am a fiend for roasted garlic – all the mild/nutty/creamy flavor without the bitterness – so added it to simple mashed potatoes. If you don’t know how to roast garlic – it’s super easy…and here’s a recipe to prove it.

Roasted Chicken with Dijon Sauce
Brussels Sprouts
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes