Tonight I needed to make dinner fast for many reasons. Fox is four months and teething and River is four years and wanted to put together every puzzle in the house…together. This is what life is made of. This is what I’ll think of longingly 20 years from now I’m sure, yet I always feel like I am trying to do stuff so I can go do other stuff. For some reason the other stuff seems more pressing, like dishes and laundry and even making meals. But today we made all the puzzles, I nursed the baby so many times I lost count and Hans was able to come home for a quick dinner before heading back out again. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, i was feeling stressed by the time five rolled around. After all, I had been trying to make a cup of tea since 1pm. All of this is to say that we have to make choices everyday and sometimes those choices need to include more time with family and less time in the kitchen.
There are a few things I try to keep on hand in the pantry and fridge: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, lemons, coconut cream or milk, fresh dark greens like spinach or kale and turmeric. It just so happens that these ingredients saved the day. But just because these specific ingredients saved my day, doesn’t help you much if your fridge and pantry tell a different story. This is why learning how to build a one pot wonder is so much more important than just following a recipe. You are the pot stirrer. You are the flavor expert for you and your people. Once you know what blocks to use, then you can start to riff in the kitchen and feel more confident.
You build a one pot wonder from the pot up. A hearty glug of olive oil over medium heat and then you begin building, stirring as you go.
a couple T. of fresh ginger and garlic (chopped)
a heaping t. of curry powder
a t. of ground tumeric (or if you have fresh add it chopped with the ginger and garlic)
salt (to taste)
big splash of white wine (optional)
juice from half a juicy lemon
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream (unsweetened)
1 head of chopped cauliflower (or riced cauliflower)
around 10 dates (chopped)
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 c. frozen peas
a bunch of fresh spinach (washed well)
1.) Add onion (chopped or sliced)
2.) Add some aromatics, in this case I added finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic.
3.) Add dried spices. Tonight I added curry powder, ground turmeric and a sprinkle of salt.
4.) Deglaze. This means add a bit of liquid to release everything from the bottom of the pot. I had an open bottle of white wine in the fridge so I added a big splash of wine, a half a lemon juice and a can of coconut milk.
5.) Add in hard vegetables and anything you want to cook. I added a bag of riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s and some chopped dates. Let it cook for fifteen minutes.
6.) Now add anything that doesn’t take long to cook. I added a rinsed can of black beans and a cup of frozen peas.
7.) A few minutes before you sit down to eat, throw in a bag of fresh spinach (or other cooking greens) and put a lid on for five minutes. Boom!
Component in Action
-In addition to adding the onion at the beginning, you could also add carrot, celeriac, celery or tomatoes, bell peppers or even bacon.
-some other options for aromatics? try lemongrass, fresh tumeric, rosemary (finely chopped or whole sprigs so you can pull out later, fresh thyme finely chopped)
-Instead of curry, you could add herbs de provance, or even dried chilis or chili powder. You could also skip this step and wait until the end and add lots of fresh herbs like basil or cilantro or parsley or chives.
-for deglazing you could also use stock or even a few big splashes of cream.
-Instead of cauliflower you could add butternut squash, sweet potatoes, soaked dried beans…
-Instead of canned beans and frozen peas you could throw in towards the end other green vegetables like broccoli
-Instead of a bunch of spinach at the end you could also throw in other greens like swiss chard, rapini or kale.