Recipes With Few Ingredients

Can you really cook tasty dishes using only three ingredients? That’s what ran through my head when I took on the project of writing ” The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook .”

After several weeks of brainstorming and playing around in the kitchen, I determined that there are abundance of dishes you can make using three ingredients — a whole 100 recipes. So how did I make that happen? Here’s a look at how you can cook with only three ingredients, and I’m also sharing two of my favorite recipes from the cookbook.

[SEE: Healthy Desserts With 3 Ingredients or Less.]

The Benefits of Using 3 Ingredients

When I was shopping for the ingredients to test my recipes, I realized two huge advantages of using three ingredients: First, less time in the supermarket and second, a big saving on my grocery bill because I have fewer items to buy. Other benefits include making cooking simple.

This cookbook is perfect for a beginner cook, but is also very helpful for an experienced home cook who is looking to save time and money. The recipes are simple and doable, which is an important part of my cooking philosophy — that you’re able to actually do it.

You’ll also be getting meals on the table faster than ever before. When you only need three ingredients to make a dish, it takes less time to prepare and cook the recipe. There’s a limited amount you may have to chop or slice, measure, mix or assemble.

Another advantage of using only three ingredients is minimal food waste. You can even see in the recipe I shared below for the pesto stuffed mushrooms that the stems of the mushrooms are used in the stuffing. Plus, when you have fewer ingredients to begin with, there’s less overall food that can go to waste.

[See: Quick and Healthy Dinner Ideas From Nutritionists.]

Making 3 Ingredients Work

If you’re a beginner cook, using three ingredients is a great starting point. It can give you the basics for many recipes like guacamole, hummus, chili and eggplant Parmesan. Basically, I stripped recipes that can have 8 to 12 ingredients to just three ingredients not counting common pantry items.

Don’t worry, the pantry items are limited to ingredients you should already have in your home: olive oil, salt and black pepper. These simple recipes will provide you with a steppingstone to cook more complex versions of these dishes — if you choose — that call for more ingredients. The techniques are basically the same, but you may find a few additional steps in the more complex recipes.

[SEE: Cooking Ideas for Random Pantry Products.]

Recipes to Try

I wanted to showcase two recipes from my cookbook that are simple and delicious. The first is pesto stuffed mushrooms. This recipe uses one of my biggest tricks: using a flavor-packed sauce, like pesto, for maximum impact. The blend of the basil, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts is available in a jar at your local market. A little goes a long way.

The second recipe is red wine marinated steak. Use leftover red wine as a marinade or open a new bottle to marinade the steak and enjoy with dinner. The wine adds flavor, and much of the alcohol dissipates when the steak is cooked.

Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Serves 4

Serving size 3 mushrooms


— 12 mushrooms, stems removed and half the stems reserved and chopped.

— 2 tbsp pesto sauce.

— 1 tbsp ground Parmesan cheese.

Pantry Items:

— 1 tbsp olive oil.


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Brush the baking sheet with the oil.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped mushroom stems, pesto sauce and Parmesan cheese.

4. Place the mushroom caps flat side down on the baking sheet and space them 1 inch apart. Spoon about 1 tsp of the pesto mixture into each mushroom cap.

5. Cover the mushrooms with foil and bake until cooked, 15 minutes. Remove the foil and turn the broiler on low. Broil, uncovered, until the mushrooms are slightly browned, 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the mushrooms cool slightly before serving.

Red Wine Marinated Steak

Serves 4

Serving size about 7 ounces


— 1 cup red wine.

— 4 cloves garlic, minced.

— 4 7-oz filet mignons or beef tenderloin steaks.

Pantry Items:

— 2/3 cups olive oil, plus more for the grill.

— 1/2 tsp salt.

— 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Add the steaks and turn to coat. Cover the bowl and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

2. Brush the grill or grill pan with oil and heat over medium heat.

3. Using tongs, remove the steaks from the marinade, allowing the excess marinade to drip onto the bowl. Discard the marinade. Place the steaks on the grill or grill pan and cook, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a platter and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.

Recipes from “The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook” by Toby Amidor and published by Robert Rose Books, October 2020. All rights reserved.

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