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”

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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”

Farro salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate

When I talk to friends (and let’s be honest, acquaintances and strangers) about home cooking, the most common complaint I hear is that it is too time consuming. People get off work already hungry. Unsure of what’s for dinner, they head to the grocery store. They try to rustle up a meal plan in the produce aisle. The lines are long. Once home, they cook, but the recipe is time consuming and creates many dirty dishes, which then need to be washed. Ultimately, they spend more time stressing than they do enjoying cooking and eating. Continue reading “Farro salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate”

Noodle salad with sautéed peppers, corn, and sesame marinade

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After a summer of traveling in places neither as hot nor as humid as the American South, I am back in Virginia. And guess what? The weather is still swampy, and I am once again wilting and lethargic.

In short: it is cold-noodle-and-beer weather.

If it’s hot where you are, if you’re looking for a new cold noodle recipe (I’ve tried some peanut butter-based ones that were great, but not veg-filled enough to justify six servings over a week), or if you’re looking for a vehicle for summer corn, try this. Add whatever veg you want, just be sure to slice thinly and cook as necessary. Continue reading “Noodle salad with sautéed peppers, corn, and sesame marinade”

Muesli with nuts, dried fruit, and coconut

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Every Friday I lead an 8am discussion section. I am embarrassed to report that I arrive as bleary-eyed as the 18-21 year olds whom I teach. Apparently, none of us leap out of bed at 6:30am to go discuss the 19th century, however much we (or maybe just I) enjoy it once we are there.

So every Friday, I’m crunched for time. Even making oatmeal takes too long. But my growling stomach says skipping breakfast is not an option. Nor is a fast bowl of cheerios–I’m hungry again an hour later.

Enter this muesli recipe. You can have it simply, with just milk or yogurt. You can add fruit–raspberries or strawberries or (omg) peaches in the summer, or a chopped apple or sliced banana right now. And since the recipe itself doesn’t include any sweeteners, you can top with a dollop of jam or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, if you’re so inclined. All options are as fast as the cheerios but as filling as oatmeal. Continue reading “Muesli with nuts, dried fruit, and coconut”

Truffled kettle corn

An avid meal planner, I run out of steam by the time it comes to think about snacks. An apple with peanut butter? Some almonds? Yes, fine, whatever. Somewhere deep down, I think I believed that procuring/making/eating snacks was too boring to bother with when I could be procuring/making/eating, say, a chocolate tart.

I was utterly wrong. This kettle corn is salty, sweet, and earthy all at once. It is savory enough to sneak by as an afternoon snack, filling enough to get me through a run, and sweet enough to be enjoyed by the handful after dinner while marathoning BBC’s War and Peace.

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Decanting fail

Warning: I usually can exercise reasonable control around food. Yet I could not control myself around this popcorn–especially once I hit on the idea of sprinkling some Trader Joe’s truffle salt over the top, something not included in the original recipe. Proceed with caution, or throw caution to the wind and dive in with wild abandon. Continue reading “Truffled kettle corn”

Yam and wild rice salad with lime-chili vinaigrette

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Making my grocery list this weekend, I found myself lingering wistfully over summer food recipes. Panzanella, loaded with fresh tomatoes and brightly-colored bell peppers? Tostada salad with avocado-lime dressing? I wish.

So instead, we work with what we’ve got. This recipe turns wintery ingredients into something decidedly brighter than you’d think they ever could be. The lime juice and chile enlivens the yams and wild rice, moving them from Thanksgiving fare to June/July wannabes.  So if you can’t have summer tomatoes–or guac, or grilled corn, or…or…or–have this, instead. Continue reading “Yam and wild rice salad with lime-chili vinaigrette”