I’m a lady who likes routine—I’m totally okay eating the same breakfast every morning and I’m happy to make a big pot of soup and have it for dinner all week long. With a routine, you become more efficient, leaving time for the other things in life (like digging into complicated recipes that take all day!) Some of my preference for pattern probably stems from my time spent in professional kitchens, where you live and breath by the routine that gets you through busy service, but it’s also just a lot easier to repeat the same steps over and over again.
Since I obviously like to cook, however, I try and make my routines as flexible and fun as possible. Lately I’ve been all about the salad prep, making a batch of mix-ins on the weekend that I can toss together for my weekly lunches. The elements change constantly based on my whims and pantry items, but the idea is still the same. Prepare several ingredients on Sunday—roast or shredded veggies, diced fruit, chopped nuts—and you’ll have a bonafide salad bar at home to mix up weekly lunches.
Last week it was this combination of roast squash, chopped mushrooms, and seed brittle—a recipe that is so easy and so genius. Just lightly whip an egg white, toss in any seeds and nuts you have lying around along with some spices and a dash of honey. Spread onto a baking mat and cook until lightly toasted, then cool and crumble. It’s the perfect way to incorporate fun texture into the salad bowl. For an Asian flavor punch, I tossed the squash in Korean chili paste for some nice heat and whipped together a dressing of chili oil, rice wine vinegar, and ginger.
For even more efficient salad prep, pre-chop a few days worth of veggies and lettuce and make a big batch of dressing for the week. That way all you have to do is toss together your lunch each day. What are you going to do with all that time saved?
I’ve still been thinking a lot about inspiration: Where does it come from? Why do we get into the kitchen and cook a specific recipe? This week my inspiration comes from a recent meal: I joined friends a few weeks ago at a new restaurant in Buschwick and someone suggested a crunchy quinoa salad with citrus vinaigrette. The dish came out as a big billowing bowl of fluffy quinoa that was so delicious I managed to completely finish it off. I’ve been thinking of it since, and the combination is so simple, I decided to put together a version myself.
I had planned on crisping up some of the quinoa to add crunch, but in a combination of haste and laziness, I left the container of cooked quinoa in the fridge overnight, uncovered, and the top layer developed a nice, firm crunch. Not sure if that’s a pro tip, but it worked. If you do want to try crisping up some of the quinoa, take ½ cup of the cooked and cooled quinoa and lightly fry in vegetable oil. I plan on eating this salad over some chopped kale as my lunchtime salads this week, but it also makes a nice side dish for a group dinner.
Whoosh, this summer has just flown by. Part of the flurry is the the fact that we’ve been traveling nearly non-stop since the first of July. From Ireland to Montenegro and Croatia, Norway to Leipzig and the Saxon Elbe wine region, we cruised along as the summer passed by. I’ll have loads of photos and travel tips to share soon, but this week, as we prepare for our last big trip of the season (to California for two weeks of sunshine!), all I’m thinking about is eating healthy. After all the rich foods we enjoyed during our summer of traveling, I needed a little refresh. So I cut back on the sugar this week and focused on vegetable-packed, nutritious meals. It’s so wonderful to explore new cities and eat out at restaurants, but it also feels great to be back in the kitchen, cooking wholesome foods and enjoying our home.
Of course, wholesome doesn’t have to mean boring. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this Thai-inspired salad turned out, with a spicy, tangy dressing I’m sure to use again and again. Simple to make, it’s a combination of peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and hot sauce, all things I already had in the pantry. Easy peasy and great to toss with whatever vegetables you have on hand for a nice lunch. The chard greens add a nice spicy kick, the cabbage a good crunch, but any greens and vegetables will do. Read More