Classes started this week, you’ll hear more about them later, once I’ve been to a few more. Right now though, what this means is the beginning of structure, the start of a routine. And let me tell you, I am endlessly grateful. And let me also tell you that this means a cooking routine as well as a learning routine. Finding the time to cook as a student (or an employee, or an athlete, or a social butterfly) can be challenging.
The plan? Prep at the beginning of the week, actually cook only 3-4 nights a week but eat almost every meal at home, and keep those vegetables coming!
The goal? Nutrient dense food full of flavour, texture and colour that is economical and doesn’t take forever to prepare. (Yes I worked at Nourish for almost two years, and there’s more than one thing that has become an intrinsic part of who I am. My attitude towards food, vegetables in particular, is definitely one of those things.)
On Friday night I pour a pound of dried chickpeas into our largest pot, I cover them with water and leave them to sit out all night. I choose a recipe for “Turkey and Courgette Burgers” from Jerusalem and make a list of all the ingredients I will need. I decide that finding ground turkey will most likely be impossible, and trying to explain to the butchers (in french remember) why I want ground turkey would be at best, highly humorous, and at worst, completely unsuccessful. Pork will have to do.
Saturday finds me grocery shopping. The baby turnips look perfect, they are firm with unblemished skin and a lovely size. Into my basket they go. Broccoli looks like the most economical option for something green. Done. Clementine’s on special for 1,96 Euros a kilogram – who says fruit is always expensive? That bag is large enough to last me most of the week.
When I get home from grocery shopping I add more water to my pot with the chickpeas, I turn it on, and I sit down to catch up on e-mails. Only once the chickpeas are fully cooked (about two hours later) do I season them with salt. Salting beans too early causes them to split and lose their shape. I let them cool then divide the beans into ziplock bags, two cups of cooked beans into each bag. My pound of dried chickpeas has magically, with almost no effort at all, turned into eight cups of pre-prepped protein. Three ziplocks go into the freezer for later use, one stays in the fridge for this week.
Sunday I put together the “Pork and Courgette Burgers,” and make a starchy side by slowly pan frying one whole onion with three baby turnips all sliced thinly. I cut and wash my head of broccoli while a pot of water comes to a boil on the stove. Once the water is boiling I drop in two whole cloves of peeled garlic, followed by the broccoli stems. Garlic is a super easy and effective way to add extra flavour to simple blanched veggies. Once the broccoli has turned a vibrant shade of green but still has a little bit of bite, I drain it into a colander.
What else is in the fridge?
-one fennel bulb
-a dozen eggs
-a roasted aubergine salad (also from Jerusalem)
Meal and snack options for the next three days?
Broccoli, turnips and onions with burger patties. (These burgers are on the small side and incredible tender from all of the zucchini, they are meant to be eaten without a bun and are perfect with all kinds of vegetables.)
Salad of thinly shaved fennel, chickpeas, diced broccoli and dressed with aubergine salad and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Warm up slightly or leave chilled.
Burgers – just because they’re meant to be eaten without a bun doesn’t mean they have to be. Some dijon and maybe a little bit of relish? Delish.
Caramelized turnips and onions with poached eggs on top for breakfast.
A snack of fresh bread or crackers spread with aubergine salad (lots of garlic, herbs and citrus in this one.)
Tomorrow I’ll cook again, maybe a chicken so I can stretch it all the way into some kind of delicious soup. The secret really, that I am aiming for, is to be able to re-invent the same ingredients into equally delicious meals multiple days in a row. It’s not re-inventing the wheel, but it just might be re-inventing the way I eat on a daily basis.