December 9, 2010

fast fare

You know that feeling when you've made something, and it's not bad, but it's not amazing either? And you wish that you could go back in time and just say: "Take it from me, self. That carrot soup you are thinking of making is not worth the effort. Make yourself some scrambled eggs, plop on the couch, catch up on Modern Family and call it a day." Yup, I know this feeling. This post is about the food you turn to when you're burned out. That food should still be good, but it should not require a lot of work.

These are the kinds of things I make for myself when I realize it's 2:30pm and I've worked through lunch (just one of the perks of working from home) or for lunch on Sunday when we have very important errands to attend to (picking up new LED lights and seeing Harry Potter). Besides the celeriac soup, which is another staple, we've been eating these six -- raw kale salad, roasted cauliflower salad, avocado toast, lemon rice, braised kale, kale topped with an egg -- quite frequently. I'd eat any of these for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Kale salad with pecorino (adapted from Melissa Clark)

   lacinato kale salad

Wash/trim 1 bunch of lacinato (aka Tuscan aka dinosaur) kale and slice into 1/2 inch thick ribbons and add to large bowl. Using a mortar and pestle, pound garlic into a paste. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, pinch salt and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and toss very well to thoroughly combine (dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat leaves).

Roasted cauliflower salad with yogurt and mango pickle

Roast your cauliflower, using the method I describe here. Top with plain, full-fat yogurt and a generous dollop of storebought Thokku mango pickle. I like Khazana brand, found at my Indian grocery, but anything spicy will work. Harissa, salsa, canned chipotles. 

Quick braised kale
Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side.

I love this cooking method; the kale becomes tender and sweet instead of chewy and bitter. (It retains some bitterness, of course. It's kale.) I really like this with the Siberian variety of kale, but this recipe is also a perfect use for run-of-the-mill curly kale you often see at the grocery store. I would eat all of this myself with a little rice, or with an olive-oil fried egg on the side.

1 bunch washed kale, leaves picked off the stems and roughly chopped/torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2/3 cups liquid (I prefer the sweetness of homemade chicken broth, but you can use water, vegetable broth, a low-sodium canned chicken broth, etc.)
lemon juice

Heat the oil in a wide, deep skillet on medium heat. Saute the onion in the olive oil until slightly browned and translucent. Add the chopped kale and stir so that the oil is evenly distributed throughout. The kale should just begin to wilt and the leaves will glisten slightly with oil. Add 1/3 cup of liquid and let the liquid come to a brisk simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost entirely evaporated. This takes 2-3 minutes on my stove, but could take longer depending on your heat level.

Add another 1/3 cup of liquid and let the liquid cook down until the kale is soft and tender. I like my kale to be crisp-tender, so I stop cooking at this point. Should you like even more tender leaves, you can do one more cycle of adding liquid and cooking it out. Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and squeeze of lemon juice and stir.

Kale with an egg on top

So simple. Braise your kale, salt well, and top with a fried egg. Alternatively, fry your kale. Heat a skillet or French oven. Tip in olive oil, enough to form a thin coating on the bottom. Add chopped kale (I used the leftovers from our kale salad!) and toss so that the oil is evenly distributed throughout. Continue tossing until the kale is tender and cooked, adding a few tablespoons of water if desired. Salt. Top with a fried egg.

Lemon rice

I fell in love with lemon rice thanks to my friend Sravanya. The recipe below is for a basic version, but sometimes I dress it up with chopped green chiles and frozen peas. Add with the asafetida and turmeric. I also sometimes borrow inspiration from kedgeree and top with a quartered boiled egg.

lemon rice 
Heat a wok or wide skillet over medium heat. Tip in oil to lightly coat the bottom, then add 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, handful cashews, and 2-4 curry leaves. Lightly fry until cashews lightly brown and mustard seeds are popping. Add a pinch of asafetida, and 1/4 turmeric. Saute 10 seconds or so, then add 1 cup of cold basmati rice and fry until rice is uniformly yellow and warmed through. Off heat, add juice from 1/2 lime and taste. I like my rice to be on the tart side but not overwhelmingly so. Season with salt and garnish with cilantro.

Harissa avocado toast

A slice of whole grain bread, something that toasts up nubby and crisp (flax seed loaf is great)
1/2 of a ripe avocado
Harissa (optional, see other suggestions below)

Toast a slice of bread. Meanwhile, mash half of an avocado with a fork so it's slightly lumpy. Once your toast is crisp and ready, spread a thin layer of harissa on one side and plop a mound of avocado on the toast. Sprinkle with sea salt and eat.

(Aside: I've made this harissa recipe at least half a dozen times, and we love it. But it's a pain to make, and this is avocado toast so you shouldn't fret too much. You could try a storebought harissa, a swipe of Dijon mustard, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes or simply leave the toast plain.)


LJ said...

my go to meal has lately been the same and boring: eggs with tomatoes, olives, basil and pecorino. I will be sure to try the kale recipe. Also, have you tried this recipe:
? It's been on my to do for a year and it seems like you would appreciate it, lover of kale that you are.

Amy said...

Avocado toast is the best, first of all. I like Amanda Hesser's way, with mustard mayonnaise. Next, I admit I am not a huge kale lover but I may try this since you say it gets soft and tender. And, yay Food52!

Kim said...

Lynh: I love eggs! The original fast dinner fare. And tomatoes, olives and pecorino sounds yum. Also, I actually bookmarked that quinoa/kale recipe too; thanks for the reminder!

Amy: Isn't Food52 the best? I'm a big fan. Are you also a contributor over there? Let me know if you like the kale, too.