What to Cook5 Ingredients or FewerItalian Cooking

Every Dish in This Sunny, Herby Dinner Has 5 Ingredients or Fewer

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This summer, we're partnering with Jet.com to share recipes that will help you hone nearly every skill in the book. (And Jet will have you covered with all the fresh and pantry goods you will need. Seriously, they have everything. Use the code Food52 at checkout for 20% off your first 2 orders of $35 or more. Maximum discount $30.*) These past couple months, we've shared tips to arm you for summertime grilling and to master the art of the block party—and there's more to come. On the docket today: breezy, 5-ingredient or fewer dishes!

Do you go kinda slack-jawed and googly-eyed when scrolling through photo after photo of beautiful tables of food on Instagram, or perhaps this site? Thinking to yourself: The ingredient list for those gorgeous spreads must be miiiiiles long, right?

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Photo by Mark Weinburg

The answer is not always, especially if you give yourself parameters, be it cost, time, or number of ingredients. I like to think of it as a challenge—find meals that only take 30 minutes to cook, go vegetarian, or, in this case, use only 5 ingredients per dish.

Linguine with Breadcrumbs and Kale
Linguine with Breadcrumbs and Kale

These delightfully summery, meant-to-be-served-outside meals employ the 5-ingredient rule across all dishes, and I've included short notes on why each recipe works, plus the order to prep so everything comes out at the right time.

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Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt

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838 Save Go To Recipe
Makes 30
  • 100 grams soft butter
  • 100 grams self-rising flour
  • 100 grams strong cheese, grated (I use 50/50 Parmesan and vintage cheddar)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt (optional)
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Why they work: Butter + flour in a food processor works magic. So does a quick chill. Change up the spices and herbs for whatever you have going on in your pantry: chili powder and oregano, paprika and thyme, sumac and mint—the list goes on.

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Bagna Cauda (Hot Garlic and Anchovy Sauce)

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29 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 4 as antipasto
  • 12 plump cloves garlic
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3.5 ounces (100 grams) anchovies in oil
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) of cold butter
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Why it works: This Italian classic marries 4 titans of the kitchen—olive oil, garlic, anchovies, butter—together into one. Our resident Italian, Emiko, says of its serving companions:

Purists will say to only serve this with peppers (raw or grilled, then cut into strips) or raw sticks of cardoons (artichoke thistles, which are a specialty of the area of Nizza Monferrato in the province of Asti). But you'll often see boiled potatoes (if there's anything that's meant to be paired together forever, it's anchovies and potatoes), onions (roasted whole, in their skins, then cut into wedges), raw cabbage leaves, cauliflower, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, or celery sticks, to give a few more ideas.

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Sicilian Green Olive Salad

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88 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 4
  • 2 cups (about 200 grams or 7 ounces) good quality green olives
  • A handful of celery leaves (from 2 to 3 stalks)
  • A handful of mint leaves
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
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Why it works: Get top-quality olives because they are the star of the show here. Use up the dregs of that red wine vinegar for more punch, and soften things up with leftover celery leaves (plus mint) from bagna cauda dippers. Simple, simple.

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Sauteed Radishes with Mint

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331 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound radishes, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped
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Why it works: Try not to eat all your radishes raw—when sauteed, they relax just enough to reveal a totally different side of themselves, with the help of black pepper and mint.

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Linguine with Breadcrumbs and Kale

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1,620 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 2-3
  • 1/2 pound linguine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 slices, day old bread, cubed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
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Why it works: A pantry-cleaner if I ever saw one. The last nub of bread, the final few grates of Parmesan, the kale you didn't use in last night's salad—they all get tossed into this pasta and come out the other side like you've put tons of effort into it.

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Lazy Mary's Lemon Tart

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4,239 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 1 tart
  • 1 large Meyer lemon, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • Your favorite tart shell
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Why it works: The secret to this zippy tart is that it uses a whole lemon, rind and all. And you don't have to slice and zest the thing—you just toss it into a blender with the other pantry ingredients and pour into your favorite tart shell. It comes out not gummy or goopy but light and refreshing, just exactly as lemon tart should be.

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