Category Archives: Last Night’s Dinner

Eggplant and Zucchini Stir-Fry

Have I mentioned that I have a terrible habit of buying produce without any idea of how I intend to use it?

Actually, there are a lot of times that I purchase something knowing exactly what I want to do with it, but it never happens. I throw away a lot of potatoes. Two autumns in a row I have purchased a pumpkin, planning to try to make kaddo borawni (aka, pumpkin with a garlic yogurt sauce, aka, the most delicious thing ever). And two Januarys in a row, I have realized there is still a pumpkin sitting in our dining room. On at least one occurrence, there were little cat tooth marks in it, too.

I know I have mentioned that I hate wasting produce, so sometimes buying an unfamiliar vegetable forces me to find a way to use it.  That’s how I discovered Swiss chard, fennel, and broccolini, for instance.

It might sound odd, but eggplant is actually a fairly unfamiliar vegetable to me.  I never liked it as a kid (I still do not understand the appeal of eggplant Parmesan), and while I’ve had some dishes with it recently that I liked, I have not cooked it much myself.

The little Japanese or Chinese eggplants are less intimidating to me.  I added some to a curry last summer with relative success.  Trying to replicate baked slices of eggplant that I had at a friend’s house… not so successful.

When I saw some little eggplants at the farmer’s market last week, I had to take advantage of them, especially since Nick was going to be out, allowing for a low-pressure, experimental dinner for one.

I semi-followed a recipe, but didn’t keep track of precisely what I did.  So I suggest you use this as inspiration, and check the Bon Appetit recipe for Stir-Fried Eggplant and Green Beans more structured guidance.

eggplants

Instead of chili-garlic sauce, I had Thai roasted red chili paste* on hand, so to make it a little more garlic-y, I sauteed some sliced garlic in the olive oil first.  I used zucchini instead of green beans because that’s what I had around.  I didn’t use tofu, because I just cannot bring myself to like tofu, unless it is in soup (of the miso or hot and sour variety).  But I tried this with sliced mushrooms another time (not pictured) and that was excellent, if you want to add a bit more meatiness to the dish. If you choose to add mushrooms,  saute them in the garlic-infused oil for a minute or two before you add the other vegetables.  Also, I use the term “stir-fry” very loosely, as I don’t think my technique necessarily adheres to stir-fry tenets.

Eggplant and Zucchini Stir-Fry

(This made a very generous serving for one person. Don’t judge me. It’s all vegetables, so it’s okay. If you add mushrooms, or a second zucchini or eggplant, you’d have plenty for two people.)

Thinly slice 1 garlic clove.

Quarter 1 zucchini, lengthwise, then halve each quarter lengthwise so that you end up with 8 spears. Cut each spear into 2- to 2-1/2-inch pieces.

Halve 1 large or 2 small Japanese or Chinese eggplants**, then cut into 1/2-inch slices on a diagonal.

Mince a handful of scallions (dark green parts only) or chives.

Heat some olive oil (1 tablespoon or 2) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute garlic slices in the oil, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, discard garlic slices and reserve oil in skillet.

Add eggplant and zucchini to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 2-3 minutes.  You can add some red pepper flakes at this point if you like a little more heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1-2 tablespoons chili paste and 2-3 tablespoons water with a splash of soy sauce if you like.

Pour sauce into skillet with vegetables and simmer until sauce slightly thickens, about one minute.

Serve over rice with scallions or chives sprinkled on top.

eggplants2

*I just realized this has fish sauce, anchovies, and shrimp as ingredients so it’s not actually vegetarian. But for my purposes I still see this as a meatless dinner.

**I have a vague understanding of Japanese eggplants being shorter than Chinese eggplants, but I have no idea which ones I was working with.  When it comes to how many eggplants to use, go with your gut.

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When the Husband’s Away, the Wife will…. Eat Soba Noodles

More often than not, there are at least a couple nights out of the week that Nick isn’t around in the evening.  I suppose there are some people that would be unhappy if their spouse wasn’t around for dinner.  Personally, I love it.  Besides giving us a greater appreciation for the nights we do have together, it gives me a chance to catch up on schoolwork that I should have done earlier in the day, watch television and movies I know he would hate, and cook things that he would be less than excited about eating: pasta and tomato sauce with canned tuna; anything with chickpeas; and now, soba noodles.

noodles3

I have to give credit to my friend Katie for bringing my attention to this Smitten Kitchen recipe. One day during the last leg of the semester, I was discussing (okay, complaining) about being too tired to do serious cooking, but really, really needing to eat some vegetables, and Katie mentioned that she had just cooked an incredibly quick and easy recipe for soba noodles with edamame and shiitakes. She had me at shiitake.

Even though I’ve made this at least three times, I have yet to follow the recipe directly.  One time, the grocery store did not have shelled edamame. One time, just as I was preparing dinner, I realized I had to skip the ginger, as mine had turned… squishy.* Most recently the grocery store was out of Napa cabbage, so baby bok choy served as a stand in.  Given the giant bunch of chives growing outside, it seems silly to buy scallions. Oh, and no sesame seeds, ever.  Unless they’re on a bagel or a sushi roll.  But that’s just a personal preference.

Also, I haven’t been able to locate Korean hot-pepper paste (although I haven’t looked too hard), so I’ve been using Thai roasted red chili paste. It’s worked just fine, as far as I’m concerned.

Soba Noodles with Shiitakes and Cabbage (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, and originally Gourmet magazine; Serves 4)

Make the sauce:

Whisk together 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2 to 3 teaspoons Korean hot-pepper paste, and 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.

Make the veggies and noodles:

Finely chop 2 tablespoons peeled ginger and 1 tablespoon garlic. Stem and thinly slice 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms; thinly slice 1 1/4 pounds Napa cabbage or bok choy (should yield about 8 cups- don’t skimp- it shrinks down a lot!); and thinly slice 6 scallions (or twice as many chives, if that’s what you have handy).

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, cook the veggies. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (The original recipe specifies to use a non-nonstick skillet. Our biggest skillet is, unfortunately, nonstick.  It works fine, but I can imagine stainless would be better.)  Saute ginger and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, just about 30 seconds. Add shiitakes and saute, stirring frequently, until tender and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and then add cabbage and most of the scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp tender, about 6 minutes.  Add sauce and simmer 2 minutes.

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Hopefully your water is boiling by the time you get to cooking the cabbage.  Add 8 to 9 ounces of soba noodles and 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame to the boiling water.  Cook until noodles are just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain, rinse under cool water (to remove excess starch and stop further cooking), and drain again. Toss noodles and edamame with veggie mixture. Serve with additional scallions sprinkled on top for garnish.

noodles2

*I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever been tempted to insert an emoticon into a blog post. In case you’re curious, it would have been :-p  Yes, with an italicized p as an attempt to blend together :-p and :-/

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The Summer Preview Spinach Salad

Having high expectations is overrated.  At least in the kitchen.

Every so often, I’ll finally get around to trying a recipe that I’ve been looking at for months.  I make a special trip to the store, spend a good amount of time in the kitchen, and the final result is… meh.

And every so often, you don’t start thinking about dinner until 7pm, decide to throw together whatever is in the fridge, and end up with a dinner you are excited to repeat the following week.

I have a new favorite way of cooking chicken for everyday eating.  This method does not yield the prettiest or fanciest chicken, but I have tried it twice and ended up with moist chicken breasts to have on hand for quick meals during the week.  Even if you don’t think to make the chicken ahead of time, it’s hands-off enough that you can get a head start on tonight’s dinner while you’re cleaning up the kitchen from last night’s dinner. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who ever ends up in that situation.)

Easy Make-Ahead Chicken Breasts (from Dinner: A Love Story): Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place 2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts on a rimmed baking sheet and add 1/4 cup water to the pan. Tent with foil, and roast for 40 minutes.  Once cooked, let the chicken sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing it. *According to DALS, you can use this method with split bone-in chicken breasts as well. I have yet to try it, but it’s on my to-do list.

One night last week, I identified chicken and spinach as the starting point for a dinner salad, and then the rest came together pretty easily, based on what we had around. Cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, feta, and in a moment of inspiration, I remembered that we had a couple strips of bacon in the fridge.

I even added some Greek yogurt to my typical cider-Dijon salad dressing to give it just a little creaminess. I never measure ingredients for salad dressings, so these proportions are very loose. Just mess around with it until it works for you.

Creamy Cider Dijon Salad Dressing: In a small bowl, add the following: 1 part Dijon mustard, 3 parts apple cider vinegar, and just a tiny bit of maple syrup. Whisk until blended. Then add about 3 parts olive oil and 1 part plain Greek yogurt. Whisk together, and season with salt and pepper.

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Oh right- are you wondering why I called this the Summer Preview Spinach Salad?  Because occasionally I would get a bite of a sweet cherry tomato with a crispy chunk of bacon, and I immediately felt like I was eating a BLT in late July.

salad2

And the longing for summer tomatoes begins.

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Last Night’s Dinner: Pickled Shrimp and Roasted Asparagus with Herbed Aioli

When you’re peeling parboiled shrimp, you have a lot of time to think.

You consider whether it would be funny to call the recipe “Pickle Me Pink Shrimp”. You decide that it would not be funny.

You worry that you overcooked the shrimp, and in the event that you did, you worry about having enough additional food so that your husband isn’t raiding the kitchen for a bowl of cereal one hour after dinner.

You think about how two years ago, in preparation for your wedding, you purchased about five giant bags of frozen shrimp. You remember very deliberately examining the bags to ensure that you bought peeled shrimp, yet somehow still managed to end up with the unpeeled variety. You wonder if you did enough to compensate your brother- and sister-in-law for preparing your wedding dinner.

Then you get back to looking forward to a quiet Friday night at home with your husband, eating some food, and listening to records.

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I was looking for a meal that required a bit more effort and prep than my go-to plan of bread, cheese, and things from the olive bar. But I wanted something I could put together in a leisurely fashion ahead of time. We ended up with a perfect late-spring/early summer menu that could be made earlier in the day and required minimal cooking:

  • Brie and baguette
  • Pasta tossed with that lovely pesto from Wegman’s olive bar
  • Artichoke hearts in oil (also from olive bar)
  • Quick pickled shrimp
  • Roasted asparagus with lemon and thyme aioli

I was excited about the pickled shrimp, as I had some at our friends’ engagement party several years ago and could not stop eating them that night.  This recipe that just came out in Bon Appetit was pretty good, although it was a bit too onion-y for Nick.  (Personally, the pickling mellowed the onions enough that I enjoyed eating them, but I’m not as sensitive to them as Nick is.)  So if you are not an onion person, you might want to cut back a bit.  I liked the recipe enough that I’m going to make it again and play around with the flavors.  The best part is that the only heat required is boiling the shrimp for about two minutes, so this is a great summer recipe when you’re trying to avoid the stove.

Make sure that when you pull the shrimp out of the boiling water, immediately drain them and run them under cold water. Otherwise they will continue to cook a bit.  As I was peeling the shrimp, I noticed a couple must have missed the stream of cold water and were still warm- I’m guessing those were the few that ended up tasting a bit overcooked. (Most of them were fine, though.)

The original shrimp recipe suggests serving the shrimp on toasted ciabatta with mayonnaise. Since bread and mayo were already in other parts of the menu, I skipped them here. But if you choose to do that, probably a good idea to remove the tails when you shell the shrimp.

The roasted asparagus and aioli comes from a 2010 Bon Appetit recipe that Nick and I used quite a bit that summer. The first time I made it, I attempted to roast the baby artichokes in addition to the asparagus, but since then I’ve leaned towards the no-fuss prep of the asparagus.  I always use thyme instead of oregano, since we are more likely to have it growing outside.  The aioli, by the way, is just as delicious with potatoes cooked in duck fat.  Just figured I’d throw that out there.

Quick-Pickled Shrimp (adapted from the May 2013 Bon Appetit)

serves 4 as an appetizer, or 2 as part of a Friday night dinner spread

1 pound shell-on shrimp

Kosher salt

1/2 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced (a mandoline works well, here)

1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced (again, mandoline)

2 garlic cloves, thinly slice (yeah, no mandoline for this- I like my fingers)

1/2 Fresno chile or red jalapeno, thinly sliced and seeded (I used a whole Fresno chile)

1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons’ worth)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fennel fronds

Black pepper

Boil a large pot of salted water, and cook shrimp until just opaque, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Peel and devein shrimp.

Combine shrimp with fennel (both bulb and frond), onion, garlic, chile, lemon juice, vinegar, and oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Shrimp can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered and chilled.

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Roasted Asparagus with Lemon-Thyme Aioli (adapted from the June 2010 Bon Appetit)

Serves 4

Chop 1 teaspoon fresh thyme and add to small bowl. Add 1 small garlic clove, pressed. Grate about 1/4 teaspoon lemon peel and add to bowl, along with 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (or a bit more, if you like things lemony). Whisk in 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil (if you have an herb-infused olive oil, that would work nicely here). Season aioli with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425. Trim the tough ends off of 1 bunch of asparagus and arrange asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until asparagus is tender-crisp, between 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness.

Serve asparagus with aioli for dipping. Aioli will keep, covered and chilled, for two days.

asparagus

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White Bean Gratin and a Wild Salmon Chase

I’ve been experiencing a bit of a cooking rut, at least in terms of being inspired to test out some new recipes worth sharing. But finally I found some inspiration when browsing The Food Matters Cookbook yesterday. I have to admit that at first, “White Bean Gratin with Sliced Salmon and Dill” sounded kind of odd. In my mind, “gratin” means potatoes and cream and lots of cheese, and it was tough to see how that could translate to a dish with beans and zucchini and absolutely no dairy to be found.

But I was intrigued and up for the challenge, and the idea of a one-dish dinner with lots of fiber, protein, and healthy fats was too good to pass up.

But first I had to find salmon.

After rounding up the rest of the necessary ingredients at the grocery store, I drove a couple blocks down the road to the awesome seafood market where they check your ID before letting you through the gate. As I started to pull my driver’s license out of my wallet, the security guard glared at me and said, “They’re closed. It’s after five.” It was 5:01.  Seriously? All I wanted to do was run in, get 8 ounces of wild Alaskan salmon, and go home.

While I awkwardly three-point-turned my car away from the gate, I contemplated my options. I could drive past my home and continue on to the next town where there’s a seafood market.  In rush hour, from the point where I was, that would probably take at least thirty minutes.  Or, I could go to the supermarket and get some salmon that is always oddly mushy and smells more like an aquarium than fresh fish.

So I sat in rush hour traffic to get to this second seafood market. I finally get there, look in their display case, and discover that all they had was farm-raised Atlantic salmon.  At that point, in defeat, I said a silent apology to the sustainable seafood gods, and ordered a half pound of the salmon.  Yes, I could have considered alternatives for dinner, but I was in too deep (as in I was excited about cooking this recipe) to back down.  I told myself that this one time wouldn’t hurt.  But when I was eating dinner later (which was delicious) I still felt guilty. Lesson learned: if I want to adhere to the guidelines for responsible seafood consumption, I should start grocery shopping a little earlier in the day.

And that’s a good lesson to keep in mind, since I loved this and will be cooking it again in the future.

I followed the recipe directly, and overall I was happy with it, but I think next time I might mix in just a little grated onion or garlic with the zucchini, so you might want to consider trying that as well.

White Bean Gratin with Sliced Salmon and Dill (from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman)

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil

3 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained, liquid reserved

2 zucchini, grated

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Salt and black pepper

8 ounces salmon fillet, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped dill, for garnish

Lemon wedges

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tbsp olive oil. Combine the beans, zucchini, and lemon zest in the baking dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice and a little of the reserved bean liquid. Cover with foil and bake until zucchini is tender and releasing juices, about 20 minutes.

Uncover gratin and continue baking until it is nearly dry, about 25-30 minutes more. Remove from the oven.  Turn on the broiler on medium-high, with the rack as close to the heat as possible.

Top the gratin with the salmon slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. Broil until salmon is just done. (This only takes a few minutes, so watch it closely!) Garnish with dill, and serve with lemon wedges.

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Last Night’s (Stress-Free) Dinner: Rainbow Chard, Shiitakes, and Fennel with Farro

What kind of stressed person are you?  Are you someone who gets such terrible knots in their stomach and waves of nausea that you can’t eat?  Or are you someone who distracts themselves from stress by stuffing as much food into their mouths as possible?

Generally, I fall into the latter category, although I am way better now than I used to be.  Occasionally I get such horrible stress and anxiety where I can just not bring myself to eat, but that’s rare.  When that happens, I know I’m having a bad day.

I actually had one of those days on Monday.  With just over a month left in the semester, I started getting into panic mode, because there is a lot to do, and some of it is really challenging.  If I find myself bordering on having a temper tantrum in the morning because I cannot figure out what clothes to wear during this weird “one day it feels like July, one day it feels like January” weather, I know I am feeling overwhelmed.

But by Tuesday it had subsided back into the level of stress where I think that eating something terrible for me will make me feel better.  As I headed home from school and contemplated dinner plans, it seemed like I was trying to find the worst possible thing to eat.  Fast food?  An entire box of macaroni and cheese?  Skip dinner and just eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s?

Fortunately I have a long enough commute that I was able to reason to myself, recognize what was going on, and convince myself that stopping at the grocery store and picking up some veggies to saute would not take much longer than sitting in a drive-thru lane, and I would probably feel a lot better in the end.

And I did.  Sliced Brussels sprouts, crimini mushrooms, and shallots, sauteed and piled on top of farro, was amazingly yummy and satisfying.  The dark chocolate with orange peel for dessert didn’t hurt, either.  It was so good that I actually wanted to replicate the same exact dinner last night.  But sadly the grocery store had no Brussels sprouts left.  It’s a good thing my stress level was continuing to decline, because if I had encountered the Brussels sprout shortage on Monday, it might have resulted in a breakdown.  And no one wants to cry in the produce aisle.

So I adapted.  I got some fennel, more mushrooms (shiitake, this time), and some rainbow chard.

A couple months ago I was sitting in the lab when one of my fellow grad students said, “I have a question.”  I was expecting something along the lines of “Do you know how to run [insert complex statistical analyses here] in SPSS?” or “What are we supposed to bring to class today?”  What I wasn’t anticipating: “When you cook Swiss chard, why don’t you cook the stems?”

I didn’t have a good answer.  I only warmed up to chard and kale less than six months ago and, honestly, I just trim out the stems because that’s what most of the recipes I’ve read have said to do.  Besides, there are a couple rabbits downstairs who are happy to receive the leftovers.

But I know that you can eat the stems, and when I was looking at the beautiful rainbow chard on my cutting board last night, I decided it was time to give it a try.  So while this sauteed chard, shallots, and fennel might not seem too different than some other things I’ve posted, I will argue that this marks an important culinary milestone for me.

Shiitake mushrooms add a meatiness to the veggie-heavy dish.  In the past I might have hesitated to mix lemon and mushrooms, but after this Parchment-Baked Shiitake Mushrooms and Brown Rice recipe, I have no problems sprinkling some lemon juice over the shiitakes, which is a good thing, because I love acidity with my greens.

I was a little disappointed that the red chard leaves tinted everything else pink, so there wasn’t quite the variation of colors that I had envisioned.  If I was really concerned about it, I could have sauteed the mushrooms and fennel separately, but the thought of using extra skillets (or more time) was less appealing than pink-tinted mushrooms.  On the bright side, if you’re ever looking for natural food coloring, you might want to keep this in mind.

On the other bright side, it tasted delicious.  I might have been converted to eating Swiss chard stems.  Sorry, rabbits.

Rainbow Chard, Shiitakes, and Fennel with Farro (2 servings as a main course, probably could serve 4 as a side dish)

Cook farro according to package directions.  (I bought mine in bulk, so it didn’t come with package directions…. My strategy, loosely based on Mark Bittman’s instructions in the Food Matters Cookbook:  I basically measure out 1/3 cup per person, put in a pot, and cover with water about an inch above the grains.  Bring to a boil, and then lower heat so that the water gently bubbles.  Cook until farro is tender, but chewy.  This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.  If water goes below the level of the grains before they are cooked, add a little more water.  If the farro is cooked before all the water is absorbed, drain the excess liquid, although I would wait until you are ready to serve.  I usually wait until the farro is completely cooked, remove from heat, and let it sit, covered while I’m cooking the vegetables.  By the time the vegetables are done, the seemingly excess liquid has been absorbed.)

While the farro is cooking:

Rinse one bunch of rainbow chard.  Trim off the tough ends of the stems and discard.  Cut out the stems, and slice into two-inch pieces.  Stack all the leaves and slice cross-wise in one-inch pieces.

Thinly slice one large shallot and one small fennel bulb, crosswise.

Gently rinse eight medium shiitake mushrooms and remove stems.  Slice into 1/4-inch pieces.

Once the farro is done, or close to it:

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add some red pepper flakes, shallots, fennel, and chard stems.  Saute until chard stems and fennel are tender.  (This took about 8 minutes.)  Add chard leaves to skillet and stir until slightly wilted.  Add mushrooms, and cook until chard is more wilted and mushrooms are cooked through.

Mix in lemon juice (from either a 1/2 or whole lemon, depending on your preference) and season with sea salt.  Serve over farro and enjoy, knowing that, in the long run, this will help you cope with stress and make you feel way better than donuts for dinner ever could.

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Last Night’s Dinner: Tacos and Tequila

Man, I love Spring Break.  Sure, I still have readings to do and data to work with and a bridal shower for a very special lady to plan, but it’s a whole week of not having to drive 40 minutes to campus, go to class, or sit in meetings.  And consequently, I’ve been able to make dinners and tell you about them!  These are still quick, easy recipes that are doable for busy weeknights, but I feel relaxed enough to think ahead and take pictures while I’m cooking, and write about them afterwards.

So, Bon Appetit claims that this recipe takes 25 minutes, but I bet that if you use pre-shredded coleslaw mix, or if you have one person making the beans and tacos, and another making the slaw, you could have this whole thing together in 15 minutes.  Of course, if you’re making rice or some sort of grain to accompany the tacos, that will take a little longer.  But my point is that this has the potential for being the fastest dinner you’ve ever made without using a microwave.

I followed the recipe exactly, so I’m not going to copy it.  I’ll just give you a link: Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw and share some notes.

First, serving size/number of tacos… The recipe states that it makes four servings, but it really means four tacos.  I don’t know anyone who eats just one taco, so I think this recipe is really good for two or three people, unless you’re supplementing the meal with some other dishes.  Also, if you use taco-size corn tortillas (like 6-inch), the bean filling can really be stretched among at least six, if not seven or eight tortillas, rather than four.  Since you have to flip the folded tortillas in the skillet after filling them with beans, you don’t want them over-stuffed.

And speaking of tortillas… Be sure to use corn tortillas.  I usually prefer flour tortillas, but they just won’t get crisp the way corn tortillas will.

Cooking strategy… Unless you have an industrial kitchen with an industrial-size skillet you probably won’t be able to cook all the tacos at once.  There are a couple ways to handle this.  You could just wait until they’re all finished and then have a plate of half hot tacos and half cold tacos.  Or you can channel my dad’s Sunday morning pancake-making approach where he would throw hot pancakes on our plates while he continued to cook them, and then we’d all be finished by the time he sat down to eat.  But why not just keep them warm by sticking a paper towel-lined plate in the oven and transfer finished tacos to the plate while you cook the rest?  And if you happen to have a spare tortilla warmer hanging around, say, from a Mexican-themed wedding buffet, that works pretty well, too.

Accompaniments… Cabbage, cilantro, and lime slaw?  Wonderful.  Topped with feta cheese and hot sauce?  Even better.  But I don’t think anyone will complain if you offer sliced avocado and jalapenos as well.

Rice is nice, but farro is awesome  Do you remember me mentioning a new favorite blog, Attempts in Domesticity?  She recently presented a compelling argument for Why I Think Farro is the Shit and I must admit she convinced me.  I’ve wanted to try it for a while, but she inspired me to finally follow through.  My plan was to do something a bit more elaborate with it, but since I needed something to take up some space on my plate (so I wouldn’t fill it with four tacos), I decided this was as good a time as any to try it.  So, I just cooked it plain, and threw in a little lime juice and cilantro, and oh, I love it.  Since it’s plumper and chewier than rice, it reminds me a little bit of Israeli couscous, which I love, but far more nutritious.  I’m converted.

Finally, another nice thing about Spring Break?  I don’t have to worry about doing school work after dinner, so there is no reason not to enjoy some tequila with dinner.  Well, technically, we had Scorpion Mezcal.  And yes, it has a scorpion in the bottle.  It also comes with a tiny sombrero.  Unfortunately it’s too tiny for a real cat.

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