Ironically, on the weekend, when I have the most time, I’m also the most unmotivated and lazy about cooking. The week catches up with me as soon as I slow down, and when my day is less structured, I tend to graze or forget about eating until I’m too hungry to cook a full-fledged meal. Also, people clear out on the weekends, and it’s just not nearly as much fun to cook for myself. I often just end up throwing together random combinations of whatever odds and ends I find around and can get on the table as quickly as possible. The result is usually just passable, but occasionally I’m surprised at how good it turns out. Here are a few highlights from the Weekend Kitchen Improv Show that just might be worth a rerun!
Episode 1: Potato, Avocado, & Fava Bean Salad
Cubes of boiled potatoes and avocado tossed with fava beans, chopped cilantro, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and chili powder. Did take about 35 minutes to throw together, would be even faster if you have leftover boiled (or even better, roasted!) potatoes. Thankfully potatoes don’t take that long to cook if you cut the cubes small. The fava beans will need to be shucked and blanched in boiling water for a couple minutes — why not reuse the potato water? You can be lazy like me and not pop the fava beans out of their inner jackets, as long as you don’t mind the slightly bitter tannic flavor. Otherwise, it doesn’t take long to do a handful. Definitely a bit random and unusual, but not bad!
Episode 2: Zucchini Sauté Featuring Jimmy Nardello
If you haven’t tried Jimmy Nardello peppers yet, you should. They look a bit like oversized chilis, but aren’t the least bit spicy. Rather, they sweet as candy. No, really! I usually char them whole in a hot, unoiled pan, turning them every few minutes until the outside is partially blackened. I had some “Mighty Tasty Cereal” (a gluten free porridge from Bob’s Red Mill that is low-fuss and mighty tasty indeed) leftover from breakfast, so I heated it up, then topped it up with a zucchini sliced into wedges and quickly sauteed in oil, a few charred Jimmy Nardellos, and a little crumbled feta. I’m sure polenta would also work well, and herbs would be a welcome addition.
Episode 3: Summer Veggie Cannelini
A lot of my meals in the peak of summer look like this: sauteed summer squash, Japanese egglant, and tomatoes with salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings I’m in the mood for (basil is a natural choice). Throw in some cooked cannelini (other white beans or pintos also work well), let simmer in its juices for a few more minutes, and voila! I served this over baked polenta slices. Pasta is equally wonderful.
Episode 4: Tamari Noodles & Tofu
Particularly in the cooler months, when I find myself with a little naked pasta leftover, I’ll throw it into a simple stirfry. First, I heat a couple tablespoons of oil and a few splashes tamari into the bottom of a frypan, then fry tofu until it begins to brown and crisp. Them I’ll add greens and a bit more oil — spinach works alright, beet greens or cabbage are even better — and sauté them for a few minutes until they begin to wilt. Stir in cooked noodles and a few more generous splashes of tamari, and a little sesame oil if you’d like, and cook a couple minutes until noodles are heated through. Then devour!