It’s a different kind of cooking, isn’t it? You never quite know how a rental kitchen will or won’t be stocked. You aren’t going to bring too many ingredients from home, and you certainly don’t want add too many little jars of McCormick spices to your cart when you only need a teaspoon of this or that. You’re looking to use entire jars or bottles, but preferably those not labeled, “Cream of _________.”
When we leave for the beach, I make sure to stock the kitchen with these basics, either by bringing my own, or stopping by the nearest grocery:
- olive oil – because I can’t go a day without using it
- balsamic vinegar – great for reducing, and drizzling over roasted veggies, or for combining with olive oil to make vinaigrette
- salt and pepper
- salad greens
- box mixes – Wooden Nickels has a great rule of thumb wherein she brings whatever random box mixes (think cake mixes, Rice-a-Ronis, Kraft boxes) we have stuck in the pantry and refuses to tote them back home.
But it’s not enough to have the right ingredients, you need the right recipes as well. Perfect beach cooking requires low-maintenance food. Dishes that can be assembled the night before so you don’t miss a second of soaking up the sun, or ones you can stick on the stove and forget about while you enjoy cocktails with friends are the only acceptable fare. This is neither the time nor the place to spend an hour slicing and dicing, and it is certainly not when you want to be chained to the stove.
On a recent trip, I finally had a go at Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta. You know, the one you saw everyone pin several months ago. The premise is simple – throw everything in a pan, add some water, and create a perfect meal in a short amount of time. The reality? I had to cook this a little longer, and drain some excess water out of the pot, but otherwise, I was happy.
To make one-pan pasta for 4, you will need:
- 12 oz. linguini
- 12 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered if large
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- coarse salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 1/2 C water
- a bunch of arugula, per The Kitchen Sink’s suggestion
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, olive oil, 2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper in large, straight-sided skillet. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Serve immediately, over a bed of arugula, and under heaps of Parmesan. Season with more salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil, if desired.