Somehow over the course of a week I manage to acquire many different kinds of produce. Maybe I need a specific fruit or vegetable for a dish, maybe it’s on sale, or maybe I just have a craving for it. Nonetheless, I sometimes find myself looking in the fridge and feeling nearly overwhelmed by the variety of goodies I have collected over the week. In order to decrease food waste, I’m always looking for “multi-purpose” or “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” meals that I can adapt according to what I have on hand. Three such meals include an omelet, fried rice, and slaw salad.
Since I started really cooking for myself in the Fall I’ve realized how much of an omelet snob I am. I can say with perfect confidence that the best omelets I’ve ever had in my life were made by my mom. I would gladly give up an omelet made with veggies, ham, cheese- the works, for a simple egg and cheese omelet made by my mom. Even Brian can attest to this since he ate one (or maybe two or three) of them last summer. At the office there is a great $3 omelet deal that many of the interns love, but in my opinion it really doesn’t compare. On this evening, I recreated one of her omelets by beating two eggs together with a small splash of milk and some black pepper. After the pan got hot, I poured the eggs in, ever so slightly pushing them around as if to scramble them. The key is to get some volume or scramble to the egg while it’s still uncooked enough that the excess beaten egg will fill in the holes and maintain the egg coverage of the pan. Just before folding, I add toppings I choose and a slice of cheese. All it takes is a little patience in folding and flipping the egg and voila, the perfect omelet.
The second of these multi-purpose meals is fried rice. I always try to add some kind of protein to the rice, so on this occasion it was canned tuna. All I did was stir fry some kale, mushrooms, carrots, red bell pepper, and green onion together with garlic, mirin, and soy sauce. After all the veggies were tender I added leftover brown rice I had defrosted, the flaked tuna, and a tiny bit of sesame oil. This really is a “one bowl wonder” kind of dish- you have your good carbs, vegetables, and protein all together. Since I remembered that I had some nori (salted seaweed) on hand, I ended up eating my tuna fried rice “sushi style” in the sense that I made little nori and fried rice rolls.
Finally, my broccoli slaw salad ended up being a means for me to use up some Greek yogurt that I needed to eat. While most broccoli slaw salads use a mayonnaise dressing, Greek yogurt has become a popular substitute. The produce part of the slaw included packaged broccoli slaw, sliced beets, raw broccoli florets, chopped apples, craisins, and carrots. Although I didn’t have the traditional apple cider vinegar for the dressing, I instead mixed the plain non-fat yogurt with a bit of rice wine vinegar, black pepper, and orange juice. Although it sounds like a very odd combination for a dressing, I assure you that it brought all the veggies together nicely. It was tart, clean, and sweet, with a much lighter feel than a mayo based slaw.
I’ll admit that these throw-together meals are not always the most aesthetically pleasing or traditional dinners one could make during the week, but they are functional for sure. When you’re cooking for one it sometimes gets tricky when you can only consume your produce so fast and you can only buy so little in quantity. That is where these simple meals come in handy. I’ve come to realize that when I’m only cooking for myself I can afford to make sacrifices on elegance for functionality. After all, how can I complain if it tastes good and wastes less?