The key to minimalist cooking from Kiwi culinary icons

Debunking the perception that a great dish involves the latest kitchen gadgets and 101 ingredients, New Zealand culinary masters, Sam Mannering and Olivia Galletly enjoy a simple cooking style that keeps clean up and food waste to a minimum.

Heroing a minimalist approach in the kitchen, Sam and Olivia focus on classic yet exceptionally executed dishes that aren’t time or budget intensive.

Celebrating cast iron as one of their essentials for minimalist cooking, they have dished up their favourite recipes to cook with cast iron alongside a cohort of Kiwi chefs in a new cookbook with Lodge Cast Iron.

From versatile but simple cookware to creative hacks and ways to attack leftovers, these chefs have served their top tips for cooking with a minimalist approach.

Take inspiration from what’s available
Revolving a meal around what you’re craving every night can create food waste and blow out your grocery bills. Instead take a resourceful approach by shopping your pantry first and getting creative.

Olivia: From looking at what’s in the fridge and pantry, I can usually find enough to whip up a pasta, fried rice, curry, or casserole. You’ll be surprised at what delicious flavours you can create from what you’ve got and be easily as satisfied as if you’d done an additional trip to the supermarket!

Sam: I like to use ingredients that are in season and easy to get my hands on. I try not to overthink what I’m going to cook, otherwise it becomes too complicated when it doesn’t need to be! I’ll start with what fresh ingredients are in season and take it from there.

Low and slow wins the race
Slow cooking meals can be a life saver when you’re short on time and tempted to order in. Throw everything that you have leftover in the fridge into your slow cooker and have dinner waiting when you walk in the door.

Sam: The beauty of slow cooking meals is they don’t require being hands-on! If you’re slow cooking a piece of meat, use a Lodge cast iron to sear it on the stovetop and then add your marinade/oil and bang it in the oven. Cover with tin foil and you can almost just forget about it for the next four or five hours until it’s ready.

Olivia: Slow cooker meals are your best friend, especially in winter! Throw something in the slow cooker in the morning before you leave the house and return home to dinner ready to serve. I do this regularly as a working mum.

Embrace the essentials
Make sure you have the pantry and fridge basics on hand to turn a mismatched set of ingredients into a masterful meal in no time.

Olivia: I always have on hand butter, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Kashmiri chilli powder, salt, cracked pepper, parmesan and olives.

Sam: I don’t like to have a complicated pantry but my essentials include good olive oil, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, oats, brown sugar, soy sauce and miso paste. I don’t have a cupboard full of spices I don’t use often as they will lose their flavour after a few months.

Quality over quantity when it comes to kitchen tools
Minimise clutter and invest in long-lasting cookware that can be used multiple ways. Opt for cast iron over non-stick so you can use your pans on any heat source, plus with the right care, it will last for generations.

Sam: I think one or two cast iron pans, a good knife, and a good chopping board is all you need. Cast iron is super versatile as it doubles as an oven dish and stove skillet, which helps to keep the clean-up to a minimum. If a pan can only go on the stovetop, to me, it’s useless.

Olivia: I was given my first cast iron Dutch oven for my 21st birthday, and to this day it’s one of my most used and loved pieces of kitchen equipment.

Look after your cookware and it’ll look after you
Ensure your cookware lasts a lifetime by giving it a little TLC after every use. Cast iron is particularly easy to care for (despite what most people think) so it makes a great staple of any kitchen. Simply wash with a water and a little dish soap (if you wish), dry thoroughly and wipe some oil on the pan and you’ll be cooking with it for generations.

Sam: The key to making your cookware last is knowing how to cook with it and care for it, which is why I’ve had cast iron pans for 20 years because I just cherish them.

Don’t underestimate the one pan wonder
An underdog of dinner dishes, when you’re not in the mood for cooking, a one pan wonder can be just the ticket. Whether it’s a roast, curry or stir fry, the possibilities are endless and clean-up is always a breeze.

Olivia: High on rotation in my household, my Smoky Chicken & Chorizo with butter beans featured in the Lodge cookbook is a one tray bake that is sure to please a crowd.

Want to cook like a chef sans the fuss? Get your hands on Lodge’s new cookbook featuring recipes from a cohort of Kiwi chefs including Sam Mannering of Homestead, Olivia Galletly aka The Hungry Cook, Dariush Lolaiy of Cazador, Glen File of Onslow, Charlie Farrelly-Gruar & John Seymore aka the Eggplant Boys, and Elien Lewis. Available complimentary with any Lodge purchase while stock lasts online and at all major homeware retailers.

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