When I look back over the past couple years (or 11 since I graduated college, entered the real world and had to be able to feed myself,) there's not many thing that stand out about how I cook. Don't get me wrong. I make yummy food, plates are licked clean, leftover don't last long and recipes are requested again. I can't actually recall having a transformation in the kitchen. Sure, I talk a ton about food, think even more about it and spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen having a good time.
I didn't really grow up cooking and I lived on campus when I was in college. So I always had a meal plan, of which I used every single meal (no matter how boring or gross the food was.) Thank you mom and dad. And then I moved to Oregon where I knew no one and began my first job in the adult world.
What I am getting at is that I feel so frequently people's cooking story is either
a) they grew up in the kitchen, cooking beside mom/dad and were a born natural
b) they came into cooking late and clearly have many hidden talents
c) they cook strictly as a matter of survival with some level of enjoyment. But if/when they strike the lottery, they are most definitely hiring an in-home chef. STAT.
Mine is kinda a little of all of those , but mostly (c.) I'm not someone who can make up recipes on my own, nor wing it in the kitchen. In fact, that totally freaks me out. I am like a robot following the recipe. Only recently have I embraced the concept of eyeballing measurements and being okay with it.
What I do have going for me, is that I am totally down for trying anything and all things at least once.
This recipe calls for sardines? Okay. You want me to gut the fish? No problem. I need how many lbs of bananas? Here we go.
And in that exploration, I discovered just how much an "extra" (I'll get there in a second) can make a dish. In your recipe, you've got the main "thing", the fruit, the veggie, the grain, whatever is it that you are working with, the main ingredient. And then there is always the supporting cast of characters. But the "extra" is the little thing that sets this dish apart from just being a dish. And in my mind, it's usually the sauce.
In the recipe below, we've got asparagus and some udon or soba noodles. Luckily, I love both asparagus and those noodles. And if we just cooked them and threw them together in a dish, it would be fine.
But the tahini sauce? Now we're talking. Oh, and it takes minimal prep time.
Asparagus and Noodles with Tahini Sauce