Eating well all week undeniably takes time and effort. Much as magazines and certain celebrity chefs would like to tell us that it’s possible to put a healthy, balanced and brilliantly tasty meal on the table in less than 10 minutes, most of us just aren’t that speedy in the kitchen (and nor should we be. As Kathryn has so eloquently put it, eating well is a choice of personal priority, and if you want to eat well it often means making a bit more time to cook and shop, and spending a bit less time on something else).
Having said that, the more you cook the more patterns and opportunities you see. That old adage of “work smarter, not harder” isn’t just for, well, work. That mirepoix of carrots, celery and onion for tonight’s stew, well that’s going to be showing up again later in the week for a soup so why not chop double the quantity now? That brown rice that take’s a while to cook – throw in an extra handful and you’re much closer to an easy lunch for work, especially if you doubled that lemony dressing too.
If you watch for them, the kitchen is bristling with these little opportunities to double up.
At the moment one of these steps is for me is sauteing more vegetables that I need to use for the dish that I’m making. I use this cycle of cook – eat – repeat in our house for all kinds of wintery dish. Chopping a handful or two extra veg is easy enough and the cooking time isn’t really altered but by the time you’ve finished one meal you have a head-start in your fridge for later in the week.
A bit extra of vegetables that soften down well (such as courgettes and leeks) are perfect to save for scrambled eggs such as these courgette scrambled eggs . Or more often that not I end up making a sort of shakshuka or pisto style dish with the eggs cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
These pictures are more of a template than a recipe. Most vegetables that saute well can sit happily in a tomato sauce (leeks, onions, shallots, mushrooms, french beans, fennel, celery, cauliflower, asparagus, spring onion, aubergine, courgette, peppers).
A sort of shakshuka made with leftover veg
1. Pour a little olive oil into a deep-sided pan and turn the heat up to medium
2. Add your leftover cooked veg (I had a fennel and onion mix) and heat until just warmed through
3. Add a can of chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. You might also add some additional seasoning at this point – harissa, chilli flakes, black pepper, ground cumin and coriander are all tasty and easy
4. Taste your tomato sauce and add more seasoning if you like
5. Crack your eggs into small bowls. I use one or two per person depending how hungry we are and what else we might be having alongside. Make a little dent for each egg in your tomato sauce and gently pour in the eggs. Reduce the heat to a minimal simmer, cover the pan with a lid and leave the eggs to cook. Without a lid the tops of your eggs just won’t cook but that’s OK – just finish your eggs under the grill.
6. Cook until the white of your eggs are just set, so usually between 10 and 15 minutes
Serve straight away while the yolks are still gloriously runny. Nice additions include a slice of granary toast to dip in the yolk, a sprinkle of parsley for freshness, a handful of dark green leafy salad or a sprinkling of feta cheese.