how to setup an [ultra] minimalist kitchen

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Last year I wrote a series of blog posts on how to set up a minimalist kitchen in terms of essential equipment and what to avoid.

I also wrote about how to stock a minimalist pantry.

The lists were based on my standard cooking style and situation where I’m mostly cooking for only the two of us but do love entertaining large groups from time to time.

When I was recently in New York City for a month, I got a chance to explore more extreme minimalist cooking.

With so many amazing food choices at their fingertips, I can understand why New Yorkers wouldn’t ever bother with getting their kitchen dirty. It finally made sense to my why Carrie Bradshaw would keep sweaters in her oven.

My tiny apartment in Soho had a suitably spartan kitchen, so I decided to have a little project to see just how minimalist I could be for my month in the city that never sleeps.

To be fair I wasn’t cooking all that much. But I was happy with just these few essentials. Which makes me think how few things you really need.

What about you?

What would make your ultra minimalist lists? Would love to hear in the comments.

my ultra minimalist kitchen equipment list

1. sharp knife
Cooking without a sharp knife is no fun for anyone. I just picked up a cheap cooks knife which was fine for the month. For longer term I’d make sure I had a good sharpening system as well.

2. chopping board
Nothing fancy, but big enough to be able to chop a whole bunch of cavalo nero is perfect.

3. medium frying pan with lid
Rather than trying to figure out how to work the oven, I chose to focus on super quick things that could be cooked in one pan. Choose a frying pan with a lid for braising things like greens in the recipe below. Make sure the sides are high enough so you could make a small batch of soup if you felt the urge. No other pot required!

4. a bowl per person
A shallow bowl is most versatile for eating pretty much everything. No plates required!

5. cutlery for each person
You could get by with a set of chopsticks and a spoon or a knife, fork and spoon. Whatever works best for you.

6. salad bowl
This is a personal one because I love a large salad as a quick meal so need a bowl large enough to toss the leaves properly. I ate about half my meals in the shallow bowl and the other half from the salad bowl. I guess if you really wanted to be extreme you could just choose one or the other.

7. a glass per person
Normally I would have invested in a couple of decent wine glasses even if only in a place for a few weeks. This time we made do with glass tumblers for all beverages. Not exactly ideal from a wine appreciation perspective, but at least we weren’t swigging straight from the bottle.

8. bottle opener
With a wonderful little wine shop around the corner, it was great fun exploring the US wine scene. While the quality was wonderful, I was surprised that most wine was still bottled under cork. In Australia you could probably get away with passing on the corkscrew and buying wine with screw caps but not in NYC.

9. can opener
Another one that you might be able to get away with. Although I was happy that I had a can opener on hand when I hadn’t even thought to check if I needed to make sure I only purchased self-opening cans.

my ultra minimalist pantry essentials

1. sea salt
While it was a no brainer to make sure I had some great sea salt, I kinda surprised myself on the pepper front. Normally I’m a die-hard pepper fan and wouldn’t dream of spending a whole month without freshly ground pepper. But when I was shopping for a disposable pepper grinder, all I found were ones with mixed peppercorns. And the black pepper purist in me decided to go without rather than enduring white and pink peppercorn.

2. extra virgin olive oil
Normally I keep a cheaper EVOO around for cooking and a more expensive peppery one for salad dressings and drizzling. But for just a month I used the good oil for everything.

3. sherry vinegar
One of my all-time favourite ingredients, I’m the type of person who can happily slurp good vinegar from a spoon. Essential for salad dressings and adding a little acid and sharpness to freshen things up when seasoning.

4. soy sauce
My go-to salad dressing uses a splash of soy to season and add depth of flavour. You could do without but it just wouldn’t be as good.

5. nuts
I like to have nuts on hand for snacking emergencies. Pistachios, brazil nuts and almonds all made an appearance on my pantry shelf at some stage during my NYC sojourn.

braised greens7

braised greens with butter
serves 1

This is one of my favourite things to cook and eat. I never get bored with experimenting with different greens. When I was in New York I was lucky to be able to try collard greens and dandelion leaves for the first time. So delicious with that wonderful feeling that you’re doing yourself good.

To turn this into a more substantial meal, add a handful or roasted nuts, some prosciotto, a handful of cooked lentils, some crumbly cheese, canned tuna or even a fried egg. The possibilities are endless!

1 clove garlic, peeled & finely sliced
1 bunch greens, washed (I used cavalo nero today)
large knob butter
splash sherry vinegar

1. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan with a lid.

2. Add garlic and cook over a medium high heat while you chop the greens. Slice the greens crosswise, the finer you slice the quicker they’ll cook.

3. Add greens to the pan with a splash of water. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring every few minutes and adding water if it starts to burn.

4. When the greens are tender, add butter and let it melt. Season with salt, pepper and a splash of sherry vinegar or lemon juice.

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video version of the recipe


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