Utilitarian Does Not Mean Boring

This is why those dishes I choose to share here and link to on my FB page lean toward the utilitarian and not the drool-inducing “gourmet” ones, gorgeously illustrated in all those columns/blogs/newsletters that I receive weekly from Splendid Table, Mark Bittman (NYT), etc. My cookbooks lean that way, too.

Of course, those recipes & photos make me sigh with desire. But, sorry, I am not going to run out to the store for artichokes, broccoli rabe, hazelnuts or creme fraiche. So if they call for such ‘fancy’ ingredients, I use them for inspiration instead of following them exactly. 

9764006-spices-and-herbs-in-small-glass-bowls-food-and-cuisine-additivesConsequently, my take on utilitarian has become more broad yet still economical through keeping many spices & herbs on hand and trying different recipes with basics like rice, barley and beans. Whether you’re eating vegan or Paleo, you’ve got to keep it interesting.

See Spice is the Variety of Life blogpost for 8 easy, different rice-based dishes.  Another example: at this week’s Paleo Basics class at Mazopiya Natural Foods Market, I demo’d Moroccan Chermoula paste, a “pesto” of fresh herbs, garlic, lemon, ground cumin & paprika. Then I gave the students samples of it with sauteed collards, with chicken AND as a creamy dressing thickened with avocado. One great condiment equals oodles of combos!

I also stock up on organic, frozen pre-cut veggies from Sno-Pac, a MN company, which I buy wholesale via my Buying Club. (You can do this, too — contact me to find out how.) Having these veggies on hand saves me much time and money, and besides, they’re organic. 

Several dishes in this Delivered Dish of the Week menu cycle is based on this Sno-Pac supply. In general, I hope the dishes described below give you some ideas about cooking basics in versatile ways!  Order here. More about DDoW service.

DDOW MENU FOR FEB 17 – MARCH 24

Feb 17 – 23

Barley Roast Carrot Pilaf  Vegan, soy-free, no added sugars. Contains gluten; you can order Brown Rice for GF option. Simple and hearty, with rosemary.

Super Green Split Pea Soup Vegan, gluten-, soy-free, no added sugars.  Another green soup, it will look like last week’s Kale Yam soup but features split pea & spinach and sports a “meaty” flavor courtesy of smoked paprika.

Feb 25 – Mar 1

Cooked Kasha

Cooked kasha, aka buckwheat groats.

Indian-style Kasha & Cabbage Vegan, gluten-, soy-free, no added sugars. Kasha is a common term for Buckwheat Groats, a gluten-free grain. It’s like an earthy brown rice. Here I flavor it heavily with Indian spices cumin, coriander & mustard seed, and add lightly braised shredded cabbage for sweetness and texture. It’s terrific with spicy roasted almonds. 

4-Jewel Dal w/ Spinach  Vegan, gluten-, soy-free, no added sugars.   A lovely recipe from cookbook queen Madhur Jaffrey that uses a variety of dal legumes including small brown lentils, split yellow lentils and split white pigeon peas. Each adds a slightly different texture.

Mar 3 – 9

Basic garbanzo & veg salad. This week's will have only or mostly cukes. (Photo by Brad Dahlgaard.)

Basic garbanzo & veg salad. This week’s will have only or mostly cukes. (Photo by Brad Dahlgaard.)

Turkish Tomato Wheat-berry Stew   Vegan, soy-free, no added sugars. Contains gluten; choose no wheat-berry for GF option.  Thickened with red lentil dal & eggplant and brightened with fresh mint & parsley. Very popular!

Garbanzo Cuke Salad  Vegan, gluten-, soy-free, no added sugars. A substantial marinated salad flavored with Middle Eastern zatar spice mix and lemon juice. (I got the zatar at Holy Land Deli grocery in NE Mpls, a mecca for interesting spices.)

Mar 10 – 16

Veg & Bean Mole Stew  Vegan, gluten-, soy-free, no added sugars.  Organic red bell peppers & beans dominate this rich concoction. I discovered online a passable, much simplified recipe for mol-eh sauce based on raisins, cacao and tomato paste. I first made it with the kids at the Arboretum Cooking Camps last summer and they liked it.

Quinoa Corn Salad in Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette Vegan, gluten-, soy-free, no added sugars. A light refreshing complement to the hearty mole stew, with organic quinoa and organic sweet corn.

Mar 17 – 23  PALEO WEEK

You can quickly make zucchini 'noodles' with a spiralizer. It's a great pasta substitute.

You can quickly make zucchini ‘noodles’ with a spiralizer. It’s a great pasta substitute.

Carrot Coconut Soup  Vegan, gluten-, soy-free, no added sugars. Thai flavors such as lemongrass & ginger make this basic combo interesting. I was inspired by a pumpkin soup recipe in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Living mini-mag (I think). 

Veggie Noodle Salad in Ginger Peanut Dressing  Vegan, gluten-free, no added sugars; contains soy (tamari). Lovely crunchy No-Carb salad with ‘noodles’ made of carrots, zucchini and daikon, plus bean sprouts, in everybody’s favorite dressing.

Mar 24 – 30

Ruby Barley Vegan, soy-free, no added sugars; contains gluten. A brilliantly hued beets & barley dish from Moskowitz’ Appetite for Reduction vegan cookbook.

Black Bean Veg Salad Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, no added sugars. Spiked with citrus & crunchy veg to complement the earthy & soft barley dish.

 

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