Three recipes to change your life. I originally came across the concept in this past Sunday’s New York Times. The Week in Review section contained a series of articles with the theme “Sustainable Life.” In one piece, Mark Bittman offered a compelling argument for cooking at home (it’s cheaper, healthier, and sometimes faster than eating out), along with three recipes that he believes can change the way we eat and live. It’s a simple premise – cook and eat real food. And Mr. Bittman shows us how to start.
Each includes an extensive list of variations and substitutions so that, should decide to embark upon a cooking adventure, you’ll be able to stretch three meal ideas into a few dozen.
As Mark Bittman said to Meredith Viera on this morning’s Today Show, “What you need is not so much a diet as a way to eat.”
Amen to that.
Published: December 31, 2010
Yield: 4 servings.
2 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, chopped
1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces, the stems no more than 1/4-inch thick
8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks or thin slices and blotted dry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper.
1. Put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add half the oil, swirl it around, and immediately add half the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15 seconds, stirring, then add the broccoli, mushrooms and all but a sprinkling of the scallions. Raise heat to high, and cook, stirring, until mushrooms release their water and broccoli is bright green and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Sprinkle with salt; add 1 cup water. Stir and cook until almost all liquid evaporates and broccoli is almost tender, another minute or two more, then transfer everything to a plate.
3. Turn heat to medium, add remaining oil, then remaining garlic and ginger. Stir, then add chicken and turn heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has lost its pink color, three to five minutes.
4. Turn heat to medium. Return broccoli, mushrooms and juices to the pan, and stir. Add soy sauce, sprinkle with more salt and some pepper; add a little more water if mixture is dry. Raise heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced slightly and you’ve scraped up all the bits of chicken. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with remaining scallion and serve.
Stir-fries work with virtually any combination of vegetables; protein-dense food (meat, poultry, fish, tofu, etc.) is optional. Use pork (like shoulder), shrimp, beef (like sirloin), or tofu instead of chicken; slice the meat thinly or the tofu into cubes.
Use cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, snow peas, carrots or spinach in place of either the broccoli or the mushrooms or both. Or use other mushrooms.
Use fish sauce instead of soy sauce and finish with a squeeze of lime to give it a Southeast Asian flavor.
Use olive oil, skip the ginger, use onion instead of scallion, and substitute 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary or thyme to give it a Mediterranean flavor profile.
Use coconut milk instead of stock; 1 tablespoon curry powder instead of soy sauce to give it an Indian flavor
The air is cooler now. It readies me for Sunday afternoons spent cooking up a pot of something, the aroma filling the apartment, heaven.
I was casting about for a new vegetable soup recipe when, as luck would have it, Mark Bittman appeared on the Today Show with what he claims is The best vegetable soup ever, no kidding. I’ve included the recipe below. He also prepared a chunky Roasted butternut chowder with apple and bacon. Both recipes are from Bittman’s new tome, “The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living.”
Like the Tuscan Ribollita that I posted back in March, these soups are not merely a starter, they’re a meal. Do as Mark Bittman suggests in the segment, add a hunk of good, crusty bread and a glass a fruity red wine, and call it dinner.
Recipe: The best vegetable soup ever, no kidding
Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist and author of “The Food Matters Cookbook”
- 3/4 cup olive oil, more or less
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch parsley, washed and chopped, thick stems discarded
- 2 or 3 cabbage leaves, chopped
- 1 bunch chard, preferably white, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 to 4 cups cooked white beans, like cannelloni, with their liquid if possible
Put about a third of the olive oil in the bottom of a deep pot and turn the heat to medium.
Add half the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, which takes about 10 minutes.
Add about half of the remaining oil and repeat the process, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.
Add the remaining oil with the parsley, cabbage and chard and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is softened but not browned.
Add the tomato paste and stir.
Mash the beans so that they’re about half mashed and half more-or-less whole. Add this mixture to the pot, along with any bean cooking liquid and enough water to make the whole mixture stewy but not watery.
Continue cooking, tasting and adjusting the seasoning as necessary, until all the vegetables are very tender and the soup is hot. Serve hot or warm.
Makes about 10 servings