Look, sometimes I get into a cooking rut, or I’m too busy or overwhelmed to go shopping, or – let’s face it – I turn into a slow, unimaginative creature, unable to think beyond the hour or so for me.
But I still want to eat well! I have a tub of leftover rice and a few eggs in the fridge. And between the crisper and the freezer: peas, cabbage, spring onions and a carrot. What I’m saying is I’m probably going to eat a big, crunchy, salty pan of veggie fried rice tonight, and I’m looking forward to my lazy feast!
A pot of kimchi soondubu jjigae is another lifesaver of a pantry meal – lavish and hearty, with plenty of wobbly soft tofu bobbing around a spicy broth that takes over the kitchen with its potent aroma and makes my mouth water. If you want to keep it vegan, you can skip the optional eggs, and you can also add any veggies you like, as long as you give them enough time to cook.
The best thing about this dish, if you’re feeling as lazy as I am this week, is all that extra juicy gochugaru colored broth, which could be the start of another delicious meal:
Saute a few cloves of garlic and a spoonful of tomato paste in olive oil, then deglaze with kimchi stock and canned diced tomatoes. Simmer until cooked through, then mix with hot pasta.
Braise Swiss chard and mushrooms in remaining kimchi stock until soft, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and place under broiler, until cheese is browned.
Bring the leftover kimchi stock to a simmer, then add cooked ramen noodles, a soft poached egg, and a bunch of chopped scallions.
When I get back to the farmers market this weekend, I’ll be stocking up on all sorts of veggies, especially herbs — the softest, most tender bunches of parsley, tickling bundles of chives, and loads of dill. I’m planning to cook a big pot of ashresteh from Samin Nosrat!
Her Persian noodle soup, which is loaded with veggies, white beans, and chickpeas, really does require some planning — and a lot of spice preparation. But I think a sunny morning of organized, structured, planned cooking, maybe while I’m on the phone with family or listening to a podcast, is exactly what I need to get back into my groove.