Help Teach a 21-Year-Old How to Cook


My «banned words» list is not short. See: «mind-blowing» (especially «mind-blowingly»); «meltingly tender»; «tipple (plz never do this) [sic]»; «quick & easy»; «dear reader.»

Give me an article with any of these words, and I will lovingly delete them. Forgive me, fellow editors, because I’m about to break my own rule. Here is a hotline question that came in a few days ago, asked by Lesley Simpson:


Don’t laugh. Looking to teach 21 year old how to make 3 super easy vegetarian dinners in an hour. Trying to teach someone with no interest in cooking.

Trying to show my son that cooking can be easy. Trying to find the no fail super fast easy vegetarian options for someone who does not like to cook. Looking for things that can be made in advance and will keep well in the fridge for 5 days. Is this a fantasy or is it possible? Beyond chili.

Dear, dear Lesley: Why would we ever laugh at you?

This is a noble cause. (It’s worth mentioning, too, that it’s not as easy of a task as it sounds—even when you remove the fact that Lesley is about to teach another human to cook. Fast, vegetarian, actually good meals can feel like a slim category at best.) And just think if someone in every household took this on. Just think! The world would be filled with simple, beautiful home cooking: Our parents would have new back-pocket meals, our sons and daughters would have specialties for their fifth dates (never cook on a first date—remember?), our cousins and friends and lovers would all know the joys of Marcella sauce—and they might not feel a need to ever make tomato sauce another way again.

So, dear readers: Can we help a girl out? Lesley is looking for your best quick & easy meals. Bonus if meltingly tender; need not be mind-blowing. Give her your secrets over on the hotline, or add them to the comments of this post. I’ll start:

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
by Genius Recipes


Macaroni Peas
by Nicholas Day


One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf
by deensiebat


Baked Onion-Walnut Frittata
by Nicholas Day


Spicy, Peanutty Udon with Kale
by Laura


How to Make Any Kind of Baked Pasta (& Live a Happy Life)
by Sarah Jampel


learning to cook