Much more so than heading out to grab a quick bite. If you grocery shop often enough and keep pantry staples it's easy enough to throw quick meals together. This kind of thinking gets lost mid-semester, but cooking is relaxing and creative, and can be really nourishing. My grocery list is usually made up of perishables from most of the 5-6 food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, calcium-rich foods, and fats). Pantry staples are life-savers:
- grains: whole-wheat pastas, rices (basmati, brown, quick-cooking, arborio, jasmine), couscous, barley, quinoa, oats
- fruits and veg: dried, frozen, and canned goods are always on hand to throw in. Things like dried mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes are also good to have on hand. I always have cans of canned and diced tomatoes (low-sodium varieties) available.
- beans and proteins: canned, dried, and frozen, soy foods, and frozen soy foods (veg links, and patties), nuts, nut butters.
- calcium-rich foods: fortified soymilks, regular milk, parmesan cheese, or other specialty cheeses, silken tofu, miso paste.
- Spices and herbs: cumin, turmeric, saffron, black pepper, red pepper flakes, chili powder, any variety of dried herbs, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, celery seed, garam masala, and any others you love or cook with.
- Others: oils such as olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, and toasted sesame oil, vinegars like red wine, balsamic, white wine, and cider vinegars, chutneys, dips, green and black olives, bottled marinara sauces, frozen semi-healthy prepared foods (like frozen spring rolls or gyoza, veggie patties), vegetable broth, beer and wine, coconut milk, thai curry paste, fruit jams, and lemon custard.
Thai Veg Curry
4 cups Jasmine rice, cooked
4 shittake mushrooms, rehydrated from dried
2 T ready-made Thai Green Curry paste (from Harris Teeter)
1.5 cans (14 oz or 16 oz) coconut milk. (you pick the fat content - fat carries flavor)
1 t peanut oil
1 t coriander
1 cup, carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/2 medium sized butternut squash, 1" dice
1.5 cups extra-firm tofu, thawed from freezer, 1" cubes
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 small can bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained (like the size of a small tuna can)
2 T brown sugar
salt to taste
2 T lime juice or fish sauce
1 T tamarind paste
6-7 peanuts, crushed
Note: to rehydrate dried mushrooms, rinse, and then place in boiling water, you can use the water as a stock if you like.
In this recipe several of the ingredients come right out of the pantry. The fresh vegetables that are added to it could be any stir-fry vegetables that you have on hand or like. I would avoid cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbages, brussel sprouts) because they give off a funny odor when cooked into a curry like this one. I usually just buy whatever is in season, or whatever appeals to me that day.
1. Cook rice according to package directions.
2. If using dried mushrooms, rehydrate (they usually take about 30 minutes to soften).
3. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat
4. Combine coconut milk with curry paste, mix well and add to pot. Continue cooking over medium heat.
5. Next add in butternut squash, and cook about 7 minutes, add in carrots, tofu, and continue cooking about 5-7 more minutes more.
6. Stir in brown sugar through tamarind paste.
7. Stir in bamboo shoots, shittake mushrooms, and cilantro
Serve over jasmine rice, and garnish with some chopped peanuts. I served these with some vegetarian gyoza with soy-sesame oil, and dried chives