PASTA WITH BROCCOLI OR CAULIFLOWER
Makes 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes

A rich Bolognese sauce can be super-satisfying, but it has three times the ingredients of this recipe and can be cooked only a few different ways. This simple pasta dish is made with a terrific, explosive vegetable sauce that takes well to other flavours.
1 tbsp salt 450g broccoli or cauliflower, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1 tbsp chopped garlic, or more to taste
450g penne or other cut pasta Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt. Boil the vegetables until they’re fairly tender; five to 10 minutes, depending on what you use (broccoli is faster, cauliflower slower) and the size of the chunks. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat; add the garlic and cook until it begins to sizzle. Scoop the vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon or strainer.
2. Drop the vegetables in the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring and mashing, until they’re hot and soft.
3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When it’s almost (but not quite) done, drain it, reserving about a cup of the water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the vegetables and two tablespoons of the reserved water. Toss it all with a large spoon until well combined. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, along with more of the pasta water to keep the mixture from drying out. Serve immediately.

Pump up this pasta
Eight simple ways to add complex flavour
1. Cook three or four dried chillies along with the garlic, or toss some red-pepper flakes into the pasta.
2. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic to the mashed vegetable 30 seconds before you turn off the heat.
3. Cook several threads of saffron in the oil along with the garlic.
4. Toss half cup of pesto into the cooked pasta.
5. When you combine the pasta and vegetables, stir in a small can of tomato paste or a cup of chopped tomatoes.
6. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive tapenade when you toss the pasta.
7. Add one cup of sliced mushrooms to the oil once the garlic sizzles.
8. Toss in a cup of peas or chopped spinach during the last minute of cooking.

CHOPPED SALAD
Makes 6 servings
Time: 15 minutes

The most popular non-recipe in the world doesn’t have to be a bowl of non-flavour. You just have to know how to dress it for success.

2 celery stalks (preferably from near the heart), trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, minced
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 cups chopped lettuce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice, or to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard, or to taste
1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine the vegetables and lettuce in a bowl; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and toss. Combine the vinegar or lemon juice, mustard and garlic in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking until combined.
2. Drizzle the dressing on the salad, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking and serve immediately.

Strengthen this salad
Simply add one of the following ingredients
1. Fennel, 1/2 bulb, trimmed and chopped.
2. Avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped.
3. Cabbage, 1 cup, chopped.
4. Green beans, 1 cup, briefly boiled or steamed.
5. Fresh peas, snow peas or snap peas, 1 cup, very lightly cooked.
6. Cheese, such as Parmesan, blue or feta – 1/2 cup grated or crumbled.
7. Radishes, 1/2 cup, chopped.
8. New potatoes, steamed and cut into small chunks, about 1 cup.
9. Canned chickpeas, 1/2 cup (or more), lightly rinsed.
10. Nuts, such as almonds, pistachios or peanuts, 1/2 cup, chopped into large pieces.

BEER-GLAZED BLACK BEANS
Makes 4 servings
Time: 2 hours soaking, plus 30 minutes cooking

Beans often intimidate beginners, so many people buy the markedly inferior canned stuffand then don’t like it. But dried beans actually take very little effort: just soak, simmer and eat.

225g dried black beans, rinsed, with any pebbles picked out
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup beer (stout is best)
1 tbsp chilli powder, or to taste
1 tbsp honey

1. Put the beans in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover the beans by five to eight centimetres. Turn on the heat and let the beans boil, uncovered, for two minutes. Put the lid on, turn off the heat and let the beans soak for at least two hours.
2. Return the water to boiling and reduce the heat so that the beans bubble gently. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally. Check the beans for readiness after 10 or 15 minutes and add a little more water if necessary. When the beans are tender, stop cooking and drain any excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, and then add the remaining ingredients (including the beans) and another good shake of salt and pepper. 4. Bring to a steady bubble and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened (about 15 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days. Enliven these legumes Three ways to give beer-glazed beans an edge
– Sweeten the dish by adding one cup of chopped ripe tomatoes or one to two tablespoons of tomato paste in Step 1, and then proceed with the recipe.
– For extra tang, stir in two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar during Step 1. Proceed with the recipe.
– Add an Asian flair with a tablespoon of peeled, minced fresh ginger and two tablespoons of fermented black beans when you add the garlic in Step 3. Swop out the salt for a bit of soy sauce.