I have never really cooked and said I would cook dinner for my boyfriend sunday. I love very clean and healthy food. Any ideas for a beginner?

Caroline Scheinfeld


savorthis April 15, 2013
I just want to know if and what you cooked!
Brianna9301 April 15, 2013
I know this is a little late, but have you ever heard of Clean Eating? Check out their website: www.cleaneatingmag.com The gracious pantry also has some amazing recipes, my personal favorite is healthy chicken and dumplings: www.thegraciouspantry.com
SKK April 15, 2013
What is your definition of clean and healthy food?
Linn April 14, 2013
Great answers listed above! But here is my nutrition take, cooking in and of itself is the healthiest way to feed those we care for the most. Just cooking is an act of love.
Raquelita April 13, 2013
A favorite food writer of mine, Tamar Adler, told me (yes, I was fortunate to meet her), "anything is smash-able and put-on-toastable." That's a great starting point for serving a loved one something wonderful, without much experience in cooking a meal. Some might call what Adler described as open-faced sandwiches, some might call them "tartine" but they are simple if you want them to be, crazy fancy if you want them to be, and make anyone eating them feel really special. Find some bread you know you and the boyfriend will like, spread it with butter or lightly brush it with olive oil. Then you can get seriously creative with a mashed spread (mash avocado, use homemade or store-bought hummus, mash some canned or cooked beans with some spices, use a soft spreadable cheese), then top with cooked or raw vegetables, then drizzle with quality olive oil. Can't go too wrong, as long as you keep texture in mind. You could also top with nice cheese and broil them for a few minutes. You probably want to serve something alongside this--a green salad, perhaps?

Surprisingly to me, there aren't many "tartine" or "open face sandwich" recipes on Food52--those that are seem complicated for a newbie. This is a gorgeous take on the topic, though it's still complicated. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/avocado-asparagus-tartine-recipe.html
I share these with you so you see that it's just about those different textural layers, whatever level of cooking or prep that you're comfortable with.

If that concept doesn't ring true, 101cookbooks.com (or pick up blogger Heidi Swanson's actual cookbooks) is a favorite around here for health-supporting food ideas. Big Girls Small Kitchen has a great way of indexing recipes and tutorials so you can choose based on experience, what you have around, etc. http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/category/guides/getting-started.
and http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/for_when_youre_low_on/skill

Remember--you don't have to do it all from scratch! Pick one or two things you'll really "make" and make them great, then use well-made simple foods and high-quality ingredients to round things out. Eventually you'll get more comfortable timing the cooking of a meal and you will be more confident with techniques, and you can make it all.
Raquelita April 13, 2013
I meant to say you should probably pan-toast or oven-toast that bread after you put the oil or butter on it, or it will collapse under the fillings. You want to be able to pick it up.
ATG117 April 11, 2013
I'd go with pasta and a salad. You avoid the protein issue, which I agree could be the most challenging, and you can still have a lovely meal. You can search for seasonal pasta and salad recipes in the recipe search to see what floats your boat. Dessert can easily be a slice of good store bought poundcake with a scoop of good ice cream.
dymnyno April 11, 2013
I think now is a great time to learn to make a great roasted chicken.
QueenSashy April 11, 2013
Hmm, this is an interesting question. If your boyfriend likes shelfish, clams and mussels are difficult to mess up. Here are two dishes you can easilly pull off (I personally prefer clams to mussels, they are also easier to clean). You can serve with baguette, brie and a bottle of nice white for a lovely dinner.

AntoniaJames April 11, 2013
I agree with LucyS. If your friend like pork, I have a "Cuban Adobo Pork Shoulder" recipe which my son, who is in college and just recently started learning to cook, made for his first dinner party hosted all by himself. Feel free to use dried herbs if the fresh herbs seem like too much work (about a tablespoon of each). The pork shoulder cooks low and slow, and sort of makes its own sauce, especially if you put a lot of onions in there with it. They melt down into a flavorful topping for the meat. You could cook orzo or another small pasta to serve with it, to soak up some of the sauce. A salad on the side with a vinegar, oil and mustard dressing could round out the meal. For dessert (if I didn't bake), I'd serve raspberry sorbet with some simple store-bought chocolate cookies or chocolate+vanilla cookies (think Milano) or perhaps split a brownie from a bakery. Good luck and have fun! ;o)

Voted the Best Reply!

LucyS April 11, 2013
If you don't eat meat, disregard this answer, but I have one idea for you. I think the hardest thing for new cooks (or everyone, really) is getting the right doneness level for protein. Over or undercooked is super easy and can be terrible. So I like, when cooking for people, something that cooks very low and slow for a long time and takes doneness out of the equation. Many recipes are fairly foolproof, certainly with a lot of wiggle room. room, Do a search on this website for 'bourguignon' or 'fricassee' and find a recipe with ingredients you like. You only need to pair with a salad (I like bitter greens like arugula with rich meat) and make pasta, or pick up some good crusty bread - all easy and quick. The best part about this is that many of these options cook for an hour or more, so you'll have time to clean up, prep everything else, pour a glass of wine, take a shower... all before he arrives. It's the illusion of control. Good luck!
HalfPint April 11, 2013
Need a little more information. Are there any food restrictions (like any food allergies, dislikes, etc)? Is he a vegetarian or an omnivore? Same questions apply to you.
Kristen M. April 11, 2013
Welcome! What sorts of food does your boyfriend like? This is a fantastic recipe, for starters: http://food52.com/recipes/2434-one-pot-kale-and-quinoa-pilaf
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