“Why No Recipe Postings Lately?”
It boils down to my living a more active, busy lifestyle. The truth is: I have not had much time to experiment in the kitchen. In fact, I have not had much time to make much of anything!
There was a while there where I even fell off the wagon, and ate out several days a week. I admit it: when I work ten to twelve hours a day, sometimes I just don’t have the energy to cook. And I’ll admit also that I ate out for lunch several times a week. Gasp! Generally I ate sustainably-sourced foods, but still – not so sustainable for the bank account, nor my figure.
Now I am coming back into equilibrium. I’ve come to terms with my new lifestyle, and I’m finding ways to reconcile it with my own beliefs of simplicity and sustainability. Several readers have expressed similar needs to live sustainably while living actively as well, so I’ve compiled some of my favorite quick and easy local meals.
5 Quick Lunches
1. Grill some veggies the night before, and then boil some pasta or rice while you’re eating breakfast in the morning. Then throw it in a reusable container, and you’re off.
2. Quick salad. Rip up some lettuce and/or mixed greens into a reusable container, pour in several beans (I like garbanzos or favas), add some seasonal raw veggies (carrots, tomatoes, snow peas, etc), and top with a quickly made salad dressing. You can bring a couple slices of whole wheat bread for some added protein and grains if you like. For the dressing, I make it with 2-3 parts olive oil, 2/3 parts balsamic vinegar, 1/3 parts lemon juice, and a bit of salt and pepper. Alternatively, you can add a mustard instead of the lemon juice, or soy sauce instead of the vinegar.
3. Eggs, salsa, and veggies with corn tortillas. This is one of my favorites. I scramble some eggs with zucchini, asparagus, onions, or greens. Then put them in a reusable container with a dollop of salsa on top, and some fresh cilantro if I have it. Then wrap up some tortillas that I can quickly throw in the microwave later at work. Viola, yummy tacos. You can also substitute beans for the eggs, and tortilla chips for the tortillas if you like.
4. Raw fruits and veggies, with some cheese or meat. Now is the perfect season to cut up (or throw in whole) some raw veggies and fruit. Slice a bit of cheese or meat for protein, and you have a wonderfully balanced and tasty meal.
5. Pasta with red sauce and grated parmesan cheese. You can make the sauce in large batches and freeze it. You can make extra sauce the night before. Or you can do what we often do, which is to buy locally-made sauce. Then boil the pasta while you’re eating breakfast in the morning, throw it in a reusable container, top it with cold sauce (you’re going to refrigerate it until lunch time anyway), grate a bit of cheese on top, and you’re off.
5 Quick Dinners
Aside from the same five meals above, which are equally good as dinners, here are some of my favorites:
1. Sauteed veggies with whole wheat pasta. Boil the pasta as you saute the veggies (our favorites are asparagus and onions, or beans and garlic). Preserve a cup (or two if you’re making it for 4 people) of the pasta water before you strain the pasta. Then add the pasta water to the veggies, add extra salt and pepper to taste, and mix with the pasta. This gives it a nice pasta sauce flavor without having to make a sauce too. When tomatoes are in season, you can saute tomatoes, basil, and garlic for a quick sauce.
2. Grilled sandwiches. Roast veggies using this easy recipe, but slice them length-wise and fairly thinly. Roasted vegetables will keep for several days in the fridge. When you’re in need of a quick dinner, pull them out, put them on top of sliced whole wheat bread (you can spread the bread with mustard, mayo, pesto, or tomato sauce), top them with some mozzarella or other local cheese, and stick in the toaster oven for several minutes (on 400F or so) until the veggies are warm and the cheese is melted. Yum!
3. Raviolis. We buy locally-made raviolis, usually filled with squash or mushrooms. While the raviolis are boiling, saute some mushrooms, garlic, and sage. When you strain the raviolis, reserve a bit of the pasta water and stir it into the mushrooms. Then mix the ingredients together and top with a bit of parmesan cheese. When tomato season starts, we saute tomatoes and basil with it. We usually eat raviolis with a simple salad (see #2 under lunches).
4. Grilled vegetables with couscous. Roasting takes VERY little time, but you do have to put the veggies in the oven about an hour ahead of meal time – that is the only catch. Roast the veggies using this easy recipe adding some thyme or other fresh spices if you have them, and five minutes before they’re done, make a pot of couscous (follow the recipe on the package or bulk bin). Fluff the couscous, mix the veggies in, and voila.
5. Fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and fresh bread. YUM. You can make your own mozzarella, but we usually buy locally-made mozzarella (from the farmer’s market, local deli, or spud.com). You can drizzle it with a bit of olive oil if you like. This only works when tomatoes and basil are fresh and in season, either from the garden or from the market.
All of these quick meals can be made easily with local, seasonal ingredients. Enjoy!
In addition to these homecooked meals, we often eat simple pre-made foods from local companies that source their ingredients locally and/or organically. Our favorites include frozen pizza, red pepper and tomato soup, and hummus and pita bread. Check around your local grocery store or market – you may be surprised at how easy it is to find quick pre-made meals from local, sustainable companies.