Confession: aside from writing and thinking up ways to disrupt the social order, cooking is my biggest hobby. I was pretty annoyed with myself when I realized that because it’s not exactly exciting. At all. I wish I were a painter or a drummer or even an electric racecar driver, but I’m not. I’m not even a chef, just a home cook who gets excited when her Crockpot soup tastes good. Is that worth sharing? I kept thinking about it and came up with two things:
Q: First of all, how lame is it that my hobby is something women were forced to do for generations?
A: SO LAME. My grandmother would not be impressed.
Q: On the other hand, how cool is it that my hobby involves preparing something that is necessary for human survival, saves me money, and helps me keep my friends alive, too?
A: That sounds better. I have to cook, so I might as well enjoy it, and actually, Devin almost always cooks with (and without) me, so in our house cooking isn’t “womyn’s work,” it’s a shared chore and one of our favorite things to do together. (I know my grandmother would be happy about this because she once told me that she thought American men were a little more feminist than Mexican men because they weren’t afraid of the kitchen.)
All that to say, I’m going to start sharing my favorite recipes here! Devin and I almost never make the same things two weeks in a row because every week we get a package of whatever fruits and vegetables are in season from Nextdoorganics, so we often find or make up new recipes. And all the food we make is seasonal and vegetarian, which sounds fancy, but is really code for cheap! My hope is that the recipes will be helpful or inspiring to someone.
And now, without further ado, I present unto you…last week’s lunch.
Salad with Roasted Beets, Israeli Couscous, and Orange
First you’ll want to peel, chop, and roast the beets because that takes the longest. We peeled and chopped about 10 beets (you could use any amount) into half-inch pieces while we preheated the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Then, we spread them out in a glass pan and tossed them with some olive oil and a little salt before putting them in the oven. We cooked them for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If you’re cooking fewer beets, they won’t take as long. The number-one tip for roasting vegetables is to cut everything roughly the same size and cook it in one layer so it all cooks evenly. You’ll know they’re done when you can easily poke them with a fork.
Next you’ll want to make the grain. Devin and I happened to have Israeli couscous in our kitchen, but you could use any grain. Israeli couscous is really easy to cook because it’s not actually couscous. It’s just little balls of pasta, so if you can cook spaghetti, you can make this.
2 3/4 cups broth or salted water
2 1/4 cups Israeli couscous
Bring water to a boil and then pour in the Israeli couscous. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered (check it every 5 minutes until it’s the consistency that you like your pasta; it took me less than 15 minutes).
Chop or tear whatever lettuce or greens you want with your salad. We used a small head of leafy lettuce. Then, chop the orange into bite sized pieces. You could also use any fruit. I calculate one half of a fruit per person because I love having a lot of fruit in my salad.
Finally, toss it all with your dressing of choice. I adapted this pomegranate vinaigrette (leaving out the oil and mustard) because we happened to have pomegranate molasses, but balsamic vinaigrette would also be really good. I tossed the dressing with the beets when they came out of the oven and poured more on my salad right before eating it.
I packed up all the ingredients separately to prevent sogginess then took them to work the next day. Ta-dah! It’s an easy, cheap salad if you make it at home, but a New York restaurant would probably charge more than $10 for something similar.