I turn to the kitchen in times of sadness and joy. Right now I’m shaken, fearful of both the long and short term repercussions. Everything is off. Culinary escapism feels like a perfect reason to avoid the news and engage in something so tactile, rewarding, and predictable. Cooking is full of encapsulating magical moments; the sounds of a gentle sizzle, the smell of onion frying, and the (usually) delicious reward for your efforts. All this free time, plus the guarantee of my roommate being around for meals, means that I’ve been thinking about food constantly and cooking voraciously.
I know a lot of people are really struggling to make healthy delicious food from pantry staples meal after meal. I want to help. I’m going to provide a breakdown of different kitchen staples I highly recommend and easy ways that meals can be thrown together. I’ll post every few days, three ingredients at a time, and will share my culinary projects for anyone looking for activities to kill time and bring your housemates together.
Right now I want to focus on 3 staples that are affordable, nutritious, and very versatile.
2. Frozen spinach
Phenomenal as a sauce with cold noodles (ideally soba) and vegetables (ribboned carrot, steamed broccoli, etc)
– Thin out with water, then add – lemon juice, fresh mint (if possible), grated garlic, salt, hot sauce, and sweetener of choice. Toss with drained + rinsed noodles and vegetables.
Asian style-dressing for grains/salads
– Thin out with water, then add – rice wine vinegar, sweetener of choice, ginger, miso (if possible), sriracha/sambal olek. Combine with cooked grains/beans/roasted vegetables.
Make homemade hummus
– For 2 cups of cooked chickpeas, add a few cloves of garlic (I use 3-4), 1 heaping tsp each of ground cumin and coriander, the zest and juice of 1-1 1/2 lemons, a few tbsps each of tahini, olive oil, and chickpea liquid (aquafaba), lots of salt and pepper, and blend until super super super smooth (I use my hand immersion blender).
Eat on toast
– with honey, banana (if you have), and toasted sesame seeds
– with chopped cucumber/peppers/avocado
Thaw, squeeze out excess liquid, and then use
– In a pasta dish (tomato sauce or simply garlic sautéed in oil + frozen spinach)
– As a topping on pizza (you can buy the dough/crust/flatbreads)
– In a spinach and onion omelette
– As a filling for crepes (sauté with a little garlic first)
Add lots of nutrition in curry
– SE Asian style: sauté onion, garlic, and ginger. Add green or yellow curry paste, sweetener of choice and lots of frozen spinach. Then add coconut milk/cream, and vegetable broth. Let this cook down before blending smooth. Add vegetables and cook until they’re tender, keeping in mind that some veggies take longer than others to cook (broccoli – 5 mins, frozen peas – 1 min)
– Indian style: bloom spices like black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, kalongi/nigella seeds (if you have) in hot oil, then add onion, garlic, and ginger. Once translucent, add in spices like cumin, coriander, chili, and turmeric. Add lots of frozen spinach and a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. If you want this to be saucier, add a little canned tomato, coconut cream, or vegetable bouillon. Finish with lemon juice and serve with rice or potatoes.
– Cut into matchsticks and place into a jar – bring water, wine vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil – pour over the carrots, seal the jar and wait at least an hour. These will keep in the fridge (pretty indefinitely), and you can customize the flavors with a chili pepper or some pickling spices). They’re a great addition to noodle bowls, sushi, sandwiches, spring rolls, etc.
– Peel the carrots, discard those strands, and then continue to peel the carrot – making ribbons.
– These are great added at the end to stir fry’s, miso soup, noodle dishes (with tahini/peanut butter sauce – or simply dressed with sesame oil, soy/tamari, and toasted sesame seeds)
– Toss with fresh herbs (all are good), salt, pepper, olive oil, and something acidic (champagne/apple cider/white wine vinegar or lemon juice) for a quick salad/side dish
Fries (kind of)
– Cut into fry shapes, toss with oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 425 for around 25 minutes.
– Add a little za’atar to the carrots before roasting, serve drizzled with tahini (and pomegranate molasses if you have)
– Add cumin and coriander before roasting, serve with hummus as a dip
– Serve the roasted carrots with lemon garlic mayo (grate a clove of garlic, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the mayo, or stir in a spoonful of pesto instead)
– Sweat down onions, then add garlic and ginger, followed by lots of chopped carrots, and seasonings like cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. Add vegetable broth and simmer until soft. Blend and then add some fat – cream/coconut cream/cashew cream/olive oil. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired/obtainable.
– Sweat down sliced onions, green cabbage, and carrots. Add a can of tomatoes and vegetable broth. Simmer. Finish with lemon juice and dill (if possible)
– Muffins, cakes, loaves… lots of delicious options.
And if anyone is curious as to what I’ve been up to (culinarily) this week, be sure to follow me on Instagram.
– Spring rolls with peanut butter sauce
– Falafel, roasted sweet potato fries with za’atar-garlic vegenaise, Israeli salad, homemade hummus (warm), thick pita, garlic olives
– Sushi – made with avocado, cucumber, and egg with pickled ginger
– Gingery miso soup with Chinese broccoli and udon noodles
– Spicy coconut green curry, packed with veggies, tofu, and thai basil – served with sesame rice
– Vegan biscuits with sausage mushroom gravy
– Veggie omelet and roasted asparagus
– Tacos – fake beef/refried beans, guacamole, salad with mango and veggies, roasted sweet potato fries
– Fried rice with vegetables, egg, and black sesame seeds
– 72hr pizza dough, with various toppings – homemade tomato sauce, pesto, black olives, minced garlic, mushrooms, slow roasted eggplant, thawed frozen spinach, goat cheese
– Decadent chocolate cake, thick with chocolate icing (vegan) and sprinkles
– Bakery-style-sprinkle cookies with leftover dough from hamantaschen
Let me know what you thought of this post in the comments down below and if there’s a specific ingredient or topic you’d like me to cover. Don’t forget to like my Facebook page, follow me on Instagram and on this site in order to receive a notification when I post new content. If you subscribe to my YouTube channel as well, I will love you forever.