Look, sometimes I fall into a cooking rut, or I get too busy or overwhelmed to go shop, or â€” letâ€™s be honest â€” I turn into a sluggish, unimaginative creature, incapable of thinking beyond the hour or so in front of me.
But I still want to eat well! Iâ€™ve got a tub of leftover rice and a few eggs in the fridge. And between the produce drawer and the freezer: peas, cabbage, spring onions, and a carrot. What Iâ€™m saying is, Iâ€™ll probably have a big, crispy, salty pan of veggie-packed fried rice for dinner tonight, and I am looking forward to my lazy feast!
A pot of kimchi soondubu jjigae is another lifesaver of a pantry meal â€” exuberant and hearty, with lots of wiggly soft tofu bobbing around a tangy broth that takes over the kitchen with its powerful aroma and makes my mouth water. If you want to keep it vegan, you can skip the optional eggs, and you can also add whatever vegetables you like, as long as you give them enough time to cook.
The best part about this dish, if youâ€™re feeling as slothful as I am this week, is all that extra, juicy, gochugaru-stained broth, which can be the start of another delicious meal:
Fry a few garlic cloves and a spoonful of tomato paste in olive oil, then deglaze with kimchi broth and canned, chopped tomatoes. Simmer until saucy, then toss with hot pasta.
Braise chard and mushrooms in leftover kimchi broth until tender, then top with grated mozzarella and pop under the broiler, just until the cheese browns.
Simmer leftover kimchi broth, then add cooked ramen noodles, a softly poached egg and a heap of chopped scallions.
When I get back to the farmersâ€™ market this weekend, Iâ€™ll stock up on all kinds of greens, especially herbs â€” the softest, most tender bunches of parsley, tickling bundles of chives and loads of dill. Iâ€™m planning to cook a big pot of Samin Nosratâ€™s ash reshteh!
Her Persian noodle soup, which is full of greens, white beans and chickpeas, really does require a bit of planning â€” and a lot of herb prep. But I think a sunny morning of organized, structured, planned-out cooking, maybe while catching up on the phone with family or listening to a podcast, is exactly what I need to get back in my groove.