Feasts for Lazy Cooks

And one project recipe to get you back in the cooking groove.

By Tejal Rao

Look, sometimes I fall into a cooking rut, or I get too busy or overwhelmed to go shop, or — let’s be honest — I turn into a sluggish, unimaginative creature, incapable of thinking beyond the hour or so in front of me.

But I still want to eat well! I’ve got a tub of leftover rice and a few eggs in the fridge. And between the produce drawer and the freezer: peas, cabbage, spring onions, and a carrot. What I’m saying is, I’ll probably have a big, crispy, salty pan of veggie-packed fried rice for dinner tonight, and I am looking forward to my lazy feast!

A pot of kimchi soondubu jjigae is another lifesaver of a pantry meal — exuberant and hearty, with lots of wiggly soft tofu bobbing around a tangy broth that takes over the kitchen with its powerful aroma and makes my mouth water. If you want to keep it vegan, you can skip the optional eggs, and you can also add whatever vegetables you like, as long as you give them enough time to cook.

The best part about this dish, if you’re feeling as slothful as I am this week, is all that extra, juicy, gochugaru-stained broth, which can be the start of another delicious meal:

Fry a few garlic cloves and a spoonful of tomato paste in olive oil, then deglaze with kimchi broth and canned, chopped tomatoes. Simmer until saucy, then toss with hot pasta.

Braise chard and mushrooms in leftover kimchi broth until tender, then top with grated mozzarella and pop under the broiler, just until the cheese browns.

Simmer leftover kimchi broth, then add cooked ramen noodles, a softly poached egg and a heap of chopped scallions.

When I get back to the farmers’ market this weekend, I’ll stock up on all kinds of greens, especially herbs — the softest, most tender bunches of parsley, tickling bundles of chives and loads of dill. I’m planning to cook a big pot of Samin Nosrat’s ash reshteh!

Her Persian noodle soup, which is full of greens, white beans and chickpeas, really does require a bit of planning — and a lot of herb prep. But I think a sunny morning of organized, structured, planned-out cooking, maybe while catching up on the phone with family or listening to a podcast, is exactly what I need to get back in my groove.

Sheet-Pan Fried Rice With Vegan XO Sauce

Go to the recipe.

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae

Go to the recipe.

Ash Reshteh (Persian Greens, Beans and Noodle Soup)

Go to the recipe.

One More Thing!

Kesar pista, or saffron and pistachio, is one of the world’s great flavor combinations, and my colleague Priya Krishna wrote about its history as a beloved flavor in Southeast Asia. I’m so excited to try her recipe for saffron pistachio blondies — a cardamom-spiked bar made with raw pistachios and brown sugar, topped with a saffron-cream cheese frosting.

And many thanks to the inimitable Eric Kim for filling in last week (I still can’t believe the bring-it-all-together ingredient in his vegan broccoli soup is coconut water — that is so cool!). Thanks for reading the Veggie, and see you next week!

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