Tag Archives: quick cooking

Weeknights: Sautéed Cabbage with Additions

cabbage with mustard and seeds

It feels almost like I’m cheating myself when I do recipes like this. I could provide you with so many more if they weren’t so discretionary! But this is about empowering you to create your own exquisite dishes anyhow, not about me.

At the risk of writing something that is too similar to the NYTimes Cooking Newsletter (which is worth subscribing to, by the way), today I offer you a quick sauté. Kind of like a warm salad?

Salads are important summer staples. As long as you keep around an assortment of seeds, nuts, beans, cheeses, vinegars, and other random additions (meats, other veggies, avocados, fruit, grains, hummus!), once the greens start coming in you no longer have to think too hard about what to bring to lunch. Very helpful. I’ve probably mentioned that before.

Well, you can do something similar with non-salad greens, too.

(Make sure to include the fat! Which might taste a little bitter by itself but is important enough to be its own taste, as of recently.)

This isn’t really recipe worthy but for consistency’s sake:

Weeknight cabbage sauté (warm salad)
1/4 small cabbage (per person)
A large scallion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
A large dash sesame oil
A large spoonful whole grain mustard
Pumpkin or sunflower seeds (toasted, preferably)

Chop up a bunch of cabbage and a scallion or two and throw them in a pan with some olive oil and a little sesame oil, if you feel like it. Pull out that fancy mustard we used last week, add it to the cabbage, toss in a few pumpkin seeds or other seeds and voila! Dinner.

The beauty of this is that you can do it with anything. Kale, napa cabbage, chard (although chard is a little more watery), throw in ginger or turmeric if you want, or apple cider vinegar instead of sesame oil, almonds as well as other seeds… you get the gist. 15 minutes, tops (cabbage is super quick to chop).

cabbage with mustard and seeds

We Millennials might be so food-obsessed because it gives us a sense of control. I’ll buy it; I feel better about my way of life when I know the origins of what I eat, and that it is grown without too much suffering (except perhaps from the vegetables, as it turns out). It is also true that we should use food as a lens to view larger issues within our society: sustainability, justice, equality… Food happens to be a good entry point because everyone has to eat, and luckily most of the time tastier food (well, once you’ve acclimated to non-super fatty/sugary foods, which is certainly a larger hump than I’m making it out to be) is more sustainably produced and nutritious. There are parts of the food chain that aren’t so pretty; maybe if we worked to make our lives AND everything that contributes to them Instagram-worthy, we’d live in a better place. I’m clearly putting far too much faith in the the visually appealing here, there are delicious and -beautiful- things that would not make it on Instagram (this cabbage, for example). It’s a start, anyway.

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Chickpea Red Sauce

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“Enough with the winter vegetables already! I’m sick of turnips and beets and cabbage!” you say.

Fine. Me too (well, a bit anyway). It is March, after all (!), so I will allow us a brief respite.

Time to pull out all those tomatoes you made into sauce into the summer. Just kidding, I wasn’t that good this year. I’ll do better next year, promise (I did freeze some of them, but not enough for lots of pasta sauce). Fortunately, you can still buy tomato sauce, and some of it is pretty good! Look for brands without added sugar. Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen sells Maine-made tomato sauces; and if you aren’t in Maine or aren’t as ridiculously neurotic about eating locally as I am, go for the fancy Italian ones. They grow delicious tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes, here’s an interesting article about seed-breeding, and making it open-source (it’s funny to me when agriculture borrows terms from tech. Mostly it’s the other way ’round). Breeding for flavor?? What a novel concept.

This sauce is hands-down my favorite go-to quick vegetarian (vegan, even) meal to feed a crowd. It’s easy, delicious, nutritious, and almost universally loved (I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love it, but I’m hardly ever ready to entirely reject the possibility).

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I usually put it over pasta, but today I decided to do potatoes. Mostly because I have approximately a bazillion potatoes and they are almost sprouting so need to be used. I have this idea in my head that I don’t like potatoes that much—I never seem to have an urgency to use them—but it’s not true, whenever I make them I devour them quite happily. In any case, using potatoes with this recipe has the added benefit of sharing another interesting tidbit, a tomato-potato plant! Apparently, they are in the same family and can be grafted together. So, not only could you grow the ingredients for this recipe in the same place, they could be the same plant.

Fried potatoes with chickpea red sauce
Potatoes
Oil and Salt

Olive oil
An onion 
Garlic
A few sprigs of rosemary
1 cup cooked chickpeas (to cook: soak overnight, then boil and simmer with an onion until soft. Add salt near the end, and make sure to keep the broth for another use)—canned will do in a pinch
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (home made or bought)
Salt and pepper
Cheese to top, if desired

Do the potatoes first. Chop them up into small chunks (if you want them crispy, make them skinnier and smaller). Sprinkle generously with salt and oil and put in a hot oven (400ºF ish) until crispy, at least 20 minutes and probably longer.

For the sauce: Chop the onions and garlic, and sauté in oil with the rosemary until soft and aromatic. Add half the chickpeas and sauté a little longer, making the chickpeas golden. Add the tomato sauce, then purée, either in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender. It’s also good not blended, just not as original. Add in the rest of the chickpeas, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve over the roasted potatoes, topped with cheese as desired.

Like I said, it’s also great over pasta. Or sandwiches, for that matter.

Brown Butter Squash Pine Nut Pasta

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Wondering what to make for dinner? Look no further. This is from NYTimes Cooking Newsletter (so, #NYTCooking and all that), one of their no-recipe Wednesday non-recipes. Well, most of my recipes are non-recipes anyway so I’m going to give you one.

I keep telling you to roast squash, so if you get bored of just eating it straight (how could you?), this is a fabulous dish to put it in. Sweet, just a little tangy, tastes nice and toasty. And assuming you have pre-roasted squash and toasted pine nuts on hand (you should), it takes exactly the time for boiling a pot of noodles.

Lemons are one of the few perishable ingredients that I keep around even though I haven’t yet seen them growing in Maine (particularly during the winter). They honestly make everything better. Modernity is good for some things.

I was in a hurry the last couple times I made this (it’s so good I made it one week and then again the next—which I guess makes sense in terms of habit, because most dishes I eat as leftovers for at least one meal and this you just cook what you need), so I’m going to pretend that you are too. (Actually I was in so much of a hurry that I didn’t take a proper photo, I just stuffed it into a jar from the pan to take and eat post-frisbee. Both times.)

Brown butter squash pine nut pasta
Your favorite pasta
3-4 tablespoons butter
A few sage leaves, ripped apart gently
A handful of toasted pine nuts (keep them in the fridge)
Maybe 1/2 roasted squash, in vague chunks (any variety—I think kobocha might be my favorite, but delicata is featured here, nice because you can eat the skin)
Juice from about 1/4 lemon

Start by putting a pot of water on to boil, since this will take the most time. If you have an electric kettle, often that will heat up water faster than a stove, so I like to put both on at the same time and then pour the kettle water into the pot when the kettle boils. Make sure to salt the water—I’ve read varying accounts as to the affect this has on the temperature of the water (not everyone is convinced that a minimal amount of salt will increase the boiling point of the water), but it makes the pasta taste way better, so do it anyway. When boiling, add the pasta to the pot.

Melt the butter in a medium pan with the sage. Carefully keep it over the heat until it begins to brown, swirling gently, then stir in pine nuts and squash, take it off the heat, and swirl in the lemon juice, stopping the cooking process (browning will happen quickly, so be prepared to act). Check the pasta, and drain when done (reserve some cooking liquid to thin the sauce if necessary—I may have told you already but apparently the starch in pasta water helps sauce adhere to pasta, and is a very useful addition to thick sauces). Throw however much pasta you want to eat into the pan with the sauce and mix around, then plate and serve. Top with a little pepper and a little parmesan (or similar) if you feel so inclined. Yuum.

Paprika Leeks and Chickpeas

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Hello again! Apologies for being remiss in posting. I have been preparing for Christmas Travels and cleaning my house instead of writing about cooking.

I should let you know that I am now in Montana visiting my parents! I may have some special Montana posts (venison, anyone?), but am not sure how frequently I will be able to post for the next couple weeks. On the other hand maybe I’ll actually have more time to tell you about all the things I’ve made and haven’t shared yet. Just a heads up.

I imagine that many of you are preparing for some grand Holiday Meals, so here’s a little something to whip up while you are making other more complicated creations. Very easy, assuming you have cooked or canned chickpeas on hand already, and paprika (one of my favorite spices) adds a fancy touch to make it a real dish instead of just sautéed greens and chickpeas (which, by the way, is also an acceptable meal).

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Recipe from Bon Appétit.

Leek, spinach, paprika chickpeas
2 leeks
A few teaspoons olive oil
Salt
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup or so of chickpeas (or just one can, if that's easier)
Smoked paprika (a good 1/2 tsp, at least)
A large handful of spinach

Clean and slice leeks. I like them in long strips, I feel like they caramelize a little better. Heat oil in pan and add leeks and salt, sautéeing until soft and a little brown. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or so, then add chickpeas, paprika, and spinach. Add water if necessary, and stir until spinach is a little wilted. Sprinkle with a little more salt and eat!

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If I don’t post before Thursday, Merry Christmas!

Roasted Carrot Almond Raisin Couscous

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Dinner for a single person is delightfully simple. You can have whatever you want, combine random ingredients, and if it doesn’t taste incredible, you’re the only one suffering, which is much preferable to serving guests something less than desirable.

On the other hand, if you create something amazing you don’t have anyone to share it with. But then you can eat it all yourself, so. And share it on your blog later.

This is not one of the most delicious dishes I’ve prepared, nor the most inventive—heavily inspired by Internet wanderings. But I like it because it’s a good representation of what you can do, for yourself, by yourself. A meal is an amazing experience where a collection of ingredients suddenly transforms into a dish, aromatic and flavorful. Not all cooking has this result, I don’t know if it’s the spices or just the particular combinations of flavors, but that completeness makes meals infinitely more satisfying.

Another reason this is a great dish is because if you keep roasted carrots (and/or other roasted vegetables) on hand, along with pre-toasted almonds (both of which you should), it takes approximately five minutes to prepare (well, caramelizing onions maybe takes a little longer, but you can skip that if you’re in a hurry).

I generally think of couscous as the tiny granules of dried processed wheat, kind of like spaghetti that’s been cut up into tiny pieces. Fortunately Wikipedia agrees; and I’d definitely like to try cooking it the traditional way after reading the entry. There’s also Israeli couscous, the larger pearly chunks, but they are a little different. This kind is awesome because it cooks basically instantly, but doesn’t seem like a scary instant product like instant rice, mashed potatoes, and the like.

Roasted carrot, almond, and raisin couscous
Roasted carrots (maybe 1/2 cup?)
Caramelized onions, if desired
A few tablespoons of raisins (I used Golden raisins, but whatever you have. Cut-up prunes will also work)
1/2 cup semolina couscous (or whatever you'll eat. With equal amount of water)
A dash of each: ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, salt, pepper, allspice and cumin if you feel like it
1/2 cup boiling water
A handful of toasted slivered almonds

Heat up carrots, if necessary. Place raisins in a bowl (with heated carrots, if you like) and cover with dry couscous. Mix in spices (or you can add them later if you aren’t sure what you’ll like), then pour boiling water over the whole thing. Cover and let sit for about five minutes, then fluff with a fork, toss in the toasted almonds, and enjoy, adjusting spices as desired.

Can also be made with other roasted vegetables; chickpeas make a nice addition as well.

If you don’t have roasted carrots on hand, cook them in a pan with the caramelizing onions—they should take about 20 minutes to get soft and sweet, but still with a slight crunch.

Roasted Tomato Rice

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Quick! Before the tomatoes all disappear!

Chop them up and roast them (hot oven, with a little olive oil, for at least 20 minutes. Throw in a few whole cloves of garlic too).

This can be done while you are roasting other things. I like to use my oven for more than one thing when it’s on: a pie and root vegetables, crisp and squash, muffins and tomatoes… it saves energy and prevents you from steaming up your house all the time. Also, everything takes time to cook, so it means you have fewer moments hanging around waiting to open your oven. Do be careful not to open the oven door too much when you have a few things in there, though—I’ve heard it loses 10º every time the door opens.

Anyway, back to the tomatoes. (Almost)

After roasting, make some rice. This is another thing that can be done ahead of time. In fact, as a person living alone, I highly recommend making either a large pot of rice, or beans, or lentils, or some combination of the above, at the start of your week. They provide a platform for all your awesome veggies and something to fall back on should you feel less than inspired, or just crunched by time, later in the week. You can do other things to help yourself out during the week—roast a chicken, make granola, bake some bread—this could take up your whole Sunday if you let it. I’ve been getting up early on weekends (habit) and find it’s a good time to do some baking. Then the rest of the day is free to enjoy).

Boil a pot of water and blanch some kale. While you’re at it, blanch a few more of the excess of veggies you got in your CSA and stick them (labeled) in your freezer. If you still have room in there. Grind up the kale (no stems) with a little olive oil.

When you are ready for dinner/office lunch/breakfast (? whatever), throw together rice-roasted tomatoes+garlic-chopped kale-a little pecorino, warm up briefly if necessary, and NOM. I recommend brown rice, it’s got more of a nuttier flavor that adds actually quite a bit to this dish. Honestly it surprised me how much I enjoyed this dinner. All about the tomatoes.

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I forgot the cheese at first… better with it (also half-eaten already)

Summer squash salad

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Well, it’s happened. I have too many vegetables. My CSA pickup was yesterday and I still have a bunch of carrots and a whole cabbage and a variety of other goodies from last week. And I never seem to have enough eggs to eat them with at breakfast. Thankfully most of them keep a while. We shall see.

As we are in the throes of summer squash season (pretty sure zucchini is a type of summer squash, so that applies here too), I thought I’d feature the lovely mild golden vegetable here. With a few of the growing number of tomatoes (does it seem very late for tomatoes this year? Maybe because I’ve been further south in years past. I cannot even express how excited I am about tomatoes).

Anyway, like most salads, in fact most things I’ve been posting, this is pretty simple. I guess that’s kinda my style. I did happen to stumble across a recipe for this, in one of my new cookbooks (!), The New Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison. But it is not dissimilar from something I would otherwise throw together: veggies, cheese, vinegar.

Summer squash salad
1 summer squash
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (I happen to have fresh, but use whatever)
1 ripe tomato (a few small ones would also be good here)
Several basil leaves
Feta
A few teaspoons of your favorite vinegar (I like red wine)
Salt and pepper

Cut up the squash in thin rounds. I like to wash it and slice it between a small knife and my thumb right into the pan. Sauté with oil and garlic until soft and slightly translucent (I tend to err on undercooking them, because I like to maintain a bit of crunch). Meanwhile, chop up the tomato and place with the basil and cheese in a bowl. When the squash is done, add that to the bowl. Top with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taste, and enjoy. Eat warm or cold.

As I alluded to, this adheres to some essential tenets of salads and vegetarian cooking. The most important ingredients are vegetables, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. You can do magical things with these basic components. To make it a full meal, add some form of protein: cheese, nuts, seeds, beans. I often bring a salad topped with a bit of goat cheese and some sunflower seeds to work (read how to pack a salad in a jar here). And I remember a few summers ago where I was using a random selection of ingredients to make a couple different dishes: green beans with vinegar and almonds (I think I roasted these with soy sauce if I remember correctly); and zucchini with fresh ricotta and a little lemon juice.

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