There was a woman I knew who used to cook for the entire week on Sunday. That was her day in the kitchen and it would provide her with a week’s worth of lunches and a jump start on her dinners. It was largely a day-long process and I envied her a bit. I marveled at her skill in the kitchen, her complete passion and joy for cooking and her discipline. It takes organization to create a menu for an entire week and, for me, it would take a serious reframing of my meal planning. As in, I would need to plan meals rather than open up my refrigerator, freezer and cupboards and ponder what to throw together for dinner or more than likely resorting to eating two bowls of Barbara’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Puffins because that is the meal path of least resistance.
While spending my Sunday (or any day) doing a week’s worth of cooking and meal planing isn’t part of my current kitchen joy, it is that time of year when a little forethought can go a long way in (a) keeping my sanity and (b) keeping me on track with healthy eating. My friend Mary from college passed along some cherry tomato recipes after I noted that Mark and I had grown an overabundance of them in our first attempt at farming, er, gardening. The roasted tomatoes keep well in the refrigerator and can be added to all kinds of salads, pasta and grain dishes.
After making the tomatoes one afternoon, I cooked up some red quinoa — a grain that is high in protein and, a bonus for many, gluten free. One cup dried yielded plenty to stash extra in the fridge giving me leftovers to mix and match for lunch, dinner and even post-workout snacks throughout the week. For a lunch salad that was portable to take into the office, I added canned black beans and toasted some walnuts. If you aren’t sure about the quinoa (pronounced keen-wah and really very easy to make) substitute any other grain (rice, barley, couscous). I am not the best at following through on meal plans made while shopping (I have tossed out enough avocado halves to back up that claim) nor am I a strict healthy eater. But adding some different foods to my ready-to-eat stockpile makes the process just a bit easier as the fall rush begins.
- Tomatoes, sliced in half
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Salt and pepper
- Additional seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme) if desired
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place cloves of garlic among the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and other desired herbs. Roast for three hours. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Add extra oil before storing.
Dried tomatoes and Quinoa Salad
Combine 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (recipe above); 1/2 cup cooked red quinoa ; 1/2 cup cooked black beans, rinsed; handful of toasted walnuts. Add a drizzle of flavored olive oil if desired.