Kale salad with farro, parmesan, pine nuts, and dried fruit

I do two kinds of cooking.

One is cooking for the sheer fun of it. Sweet snacks! Brunch for friends! Ohmygod, I want chocolate!

But I realize that not everyone is as into that first kind of cooking as I am. I hear that.

The second kind of cooking, however, is the kind that needs to happen, week in and week out, to keep me fed, in a healthy-ish way, on relatively little money, often in a somewhat short amount of time. This is the type of cooking that everyone—young or old, in school or employed, with kids or without—needs to do. I don’t think there’s a way to eat healthy, relatively interesting food three times a day on a small budget without cooking for yourself.

For that second kind of cooking, I cannot go without recipes like this one. Continue reading “Kale salad with farro, parmesan, pine nuts, and dried fruit”

Moroccan-spiced roasted cauliflower and carrot salad with chickpeas and couscous

With about 95 percent accuracy, I can usually judge whether I will like a recipe from the ingredients list.

This was not one of those recipes.

I have been working my way through my most-used cookbook, Salad for Dinner, for years. And for years, I had skipped over this recipe. The ingredients sounded weird together. Would green olives really work with a dressing that was inflected with turmeric and cinnamon? Did cauliflower and carrots really need a starchy bed of couscous? Speaking of: was that really enough couscous for a couscous salad? And what about the chickpeas–where did they fit into this equation?

Continue reading “Moroccan-spiced roasted cauliflower and carrot salad with chickpeas and couscous”

Israeli couscous with preserved lemons, pistachios, and dried fruit

Though I grew up eating a lot of (delicious! Thanks, Mom!) meals that were protein + starch + vegetable, I don’t cook that way very often now. For one, I cook for leftovers, and I often find the texture of reheated meat unappealing. Two, I just so enjoy a heaping grain salad, a warm bowl of soup, or a big mess of curry or stew that a three-part meal never occurs to me. And three: cooking three things for one weeknight meal? Using three separate pots? That I then have to wash? Ugh.

As a result, I feel a bit out of my depth when I have to plan a meal that includes a separate meat, starch, and vegetable. The vegetable bit is okay. The meat, fine–I can do chicken under a brick or roast some lamb. But I find myself hitting a wall on the starch bit. Everything–roast potatoes, rice, and so on–just feels a bit, well, starchy and unexciting, like it’s just there in the name of “balance.”

Enter this couscous recipe. Continue reading “Israeli couscous with preserved lemons, pistachios, and dried fruit”

Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs

Like most children in America, my brother and I hated Brussels sprouts when we were growing up. My dad didn’t care for them either. For years after my mom stopped cooking them, “Brussels sprouts” were synonymous with “disgusting” in our house.

Then along came this recipe, and we all had to eat our words. Instead of halving the sprouts, you slice them. Then you sauté the sprouts with a generous portion of bacon and figs. The whole thing is finished by deglazing the pan with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The result is the perfect gateway recipe: each bite of sprouts is balanced by salty bacon and sweet figs. Continue reading “Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs”

Chocolate, cherry, and hazelnut fougasse

A little over a year ago, a dear friend (and fellow graduate student) and I had an idea: to cook our way through an entire cookbook. Think Julie & Julia, but with more camaraderie and a tighter budget. We settled on David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen because it boasted solid reviews, stunning photos, and stories about Paris that delighted us with their enthusiasm and their sarcasm. (Sorry, France, I love you, but you do bring it on yourself sometimes.)

And so, every Sunday night for a year, my friend and I convened in her kitchen or mine to chop, sauté, braise, boil, and bake. She is impatient with processes—why does hot cheese take so long to cool?—and hates buttering baking dishes. I am far too cavalier about touching hot pans and foods. We came to refer to David Lebovitz as “Daveed” and talked about him as if he were in the kitchen. (“Daveed didn’t explain what milkshake-like consistency meant!”) But we shopped, chopped, cooked, ate, counseled, and laughed together, proving that the very best thing about food is how it brings people together. (And that is saying a lot coming from someone who can rhapsodize about eggs simmered in tomato sauce.) Continue reading “Chocolate, cherry, and hazelnut fougasse”