What to Cook when You’ve Packed up the Kitchen


I’m a chronic mover. I hate that about myself, actually. I can’t wait for the day to come when I stay in one apartment longer than a year. The reasons vary, from moving to attend graduate school to always seeking a bigger pad in a better neighborhood. So I’m moving  again on Friday. This time, interestingly enough, it’s not really by choice. I love living in San Francisco. I love my apartment. Heck, I just bought a new rug, a funky retro lamp and some odd little wired birds that sit happily on my window sill.  I’ve got my matchbook collection and the Russian dolls my grandma gave me. And of course, rain boots. My across-the-way neighbor Brian carries my groceries up three flights of stairs for me often, and I’ve figured out a way to ride the bus to yoga for free. I’ve even learned to kind of love living by myself over these past few months.

But San Francisco’s not cheap, and I never intended on paying for this lovely apartment all by myself. So I decided to break my lease (have you ever done this?! So. not. easy). My mom lives right over the bridge and she leaves for the summers. She was starting to think about looking for house-sitters, and I was starting to think about how nice it’d be to walk around the yard barefoot and eat lots of tomatoes from her garden. So it’s temporary. But it’s a win-win for both of us. I’ve forced all of my city friends and acquaintances to promise they’ll make the trek often to barbecue and drink strong cocktails. You all know who you are. I mean it.

Now let’s move on to talk about how much packing sucks. O.k. covered that. God, it sucks. And then let’s talk about how if you’re thrifty like I am and hate throwing things out, you feel inclined to use up everything in your refrigerator before moving day even if it doesn’t sound particularly appetizing. It leads to odd combinations of things like sweet potato fries and raisin bran for dinner. Or my personal favorite: frozen broccoli and ground turkey hash. Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it. But there’s a really nice dish I made a few nights ago in an effort to use up some of my canned beans and tomatoes. It’s a great recipe to make when you’ve packed up and find yourself sitting on top of cardboard boxes reflecting on the wackiness of life and obsessing about your next steps. It’s easy, it doesn’t require many dishes or pots and pans, it’s hearty, and it’s comforting. My mom makes a similar white bean dish that I love, so for me, this reminds me of home. Ironic as I sit here eating leftovers staring at a bare kitchen and a cold, empty living room. But I’m soaking in the last few days here, knowing I’m not going far and can drive on over to run in the Panhandle, have coffee at Matching Half, and dig into some Green Chile Kitchen any old time I want.

 

Roasted Radicchio and White Beans

Roasted Radicchio and White Beans

  • Yield: 4 side servings
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Cook time: 15 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins

Roasting radicchio takes the slightly bitter edge off that tends to turn some people away. This is very much a ‘dash of this and a dash of that’ recipe. If you need a little more oil to coat your radicchio, great. If you’d rather use a different kind of oil, great.  If you want to throw in some fresh sage or top with breadcrumbs, that’d be good, too. I don’t use the entire 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes because I find it a bit too saucy for my liking. With warm crusty bread and good butter, a lovely meal is made.

Ingredients

1 medium head radicchio (1/2 pound)
2-3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (or olive oil is fine, too)
1 can cannellini beans
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
12 oz. diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Discard outer leaves from radicchio and cut the head into 4 wedges. Put radicchio wedges on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Before placing in the oven, turn each wedge so a cut side faces downward on the sheet. Roast, turning halfway through cooking, until leaves are wilted, about 12 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir again for 1 minute. Add beans, tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, arrange radicchio in a serving dish and spoon warm beans over the top.

Comments

  1. Nicole

    Oh man, Hassan is going to be bummed out he stocked up on all that ice cream for you! :)

    I can relate to your moving experiences. I often joke that I have moved so many times I lived in the same house twice! Right now I can't think which would be worse, spending the rest of my life in Fairbanks or moving again.

    In any case, I hope you get to enjoy some of your Memorial Day weekend. The beans sound comforting.

  2. Danielle

    Having just moved into our new home, I feel your pain about moving - and yes, packing DOES SUCK! I've never felt more 'unsettled' than when my kitchen was all in boxes and we opted for the easy way out with having takeouts for dinner. Now if I only had some radicchio and beans in my fridge, I'd have put this together too - looks really comforting and grounding, just what's needed in the middle of a move :)

    Good luck with it and I'll see you this summer!!

  3. Anne

    Oh this sounds good, especially for a rainy day. Good luck with the move. Fresh starts are an opportunity, even if it wasn't in "the plan."

  4. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

    I was a nomad at one time too, actually I still am - I just moved two months ago. Change is not always pleasant but it's good to have a fresh start.

    This looks like a great dish even if you're not all packed up. It looks so refreshing!

  5. Denise | Chez Danisse

    I was just trying to figure out what to make for dinner. This is just my sort of thing. Great timing. Thanks! I'm off for a walk and a stop at the market.

    But first...I have a question about grapeseed oil. I've never used it. Is it just what you happened to have around, or do you prefer it over olive oil?

    1. megang

      Great question, Denise! You know, I've started to use it instead of olive oil mainly for higher temperature cooking/sauteing because the smoke point is higher and olive oil gets kinda creepy when it's cooked at too high of a temperature. So I've gotten in a groove of using it--the flavor's super mild. It's actually a bit more inexpensive. For a recipe like this though, it really wouldn't matter at all. Olive oil would be perfect, too! Enjoy.

  6. Dana

    Good luck with moving! Packing is the hardest part, but just wait until you get to unpack and rediscover all of your treasures.

  7. Stephanie (Fresh Tart)

    Hahaha, Hassan and your ice cream! He'll have to hope another ice cream-lover moves in after you :) I already miss your adorable apartment just from the pics. But you'll take beautiful pictures and cook delicious things wherever you land. Looking forward to tomato posts from your mom's garden. Good luck with the move!

  8. Dana

    I hate to pack more than anything. Moving is so hard and just gets harder as you get older and accumulate more stuff. I feel like we can never leave our house because I couldn't handle putting everything in boxes. You certainly made a lovely and healthy meal out of next to nothing!

  9. El

    Good luck with the move. I hope your unpacking is easier than the packing! Great dish too!!

  10. Maddie

    Oh gosh, good luck with the move! I totally feel your pain...I'm still traumatized from my most recent move ten months ago. But it's the only way to get on to bigger and better things for yourself, and a barefoot summer in the backyard of a familiar house sounds unbeatable.

  11. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef

    Moving SUCKS! I agree since I just did it. But you'll love the summer to play at home and then find a great new pad in SF!

  12. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite

    You made an awesome dish even if you are all packed up. Your mum's house for the summer sounds lovely. Barefoot eating tomatoes....

  13. Camila F.

    Such a yummy recipe! I tried it last week and it turned out perfect. There’s a post about it on my blog today (with a link to this post). If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link: http://naomemandeflores.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/delicinhas-da-semana-2/

    Thanks for the recipe!
    Love,
    Camila F.

Join the Discussion

Winter Comfort Food

Winter Morning Porridge

Winter Morning Porridge

I intended on baking holiday cookies to share with you today, but when I sat down to brainstorm all I could think about, truly, was the morning porridge I've been making and how that's really what I wanted to send you away with. The holiday season always seems to zoom on by at its own clip with little regard for how most of us wish it would just slow down, and this year feels like no exception. We got our tree last week and I've been making a point to sit in the living room and admire the twinkle as much as possible. I have lofty goals of snowflakes and gingerbread men and stringing cranberries and popcorn, but I'm also trying to get comfortable with the fact that everything may not get done, and that sitting amongst the twinkle is really the most important. That and a warm breakfast before the day spins into gear. This multi-grain porridge has proved to be a saving grace on busy weekday mornings, and it reheats beautifully so I've been making a big pot and bringing it to work with some extra chopped almonds and fresh pomegranate seeds. While cookies are certainly on the horizon, I think I'll have this recipe to thank for getting us through the busy days ahead. 

Read More
Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine).  Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).

Read More
Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard

Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard

If I asked you about what you like to cook at home when the week gets busy, I'm willing to bet it might be something simple. While there are countless websites and blogs and innumerable resources to find any kind of recipe we may crave, it's often the simple, repetitive dishes that we've either grown up with or come to love that call to us when cooking (or life in general) seems overwhelming or when we're feeling depleted. While my go-to is typically breakfast burritos or whole grain bowls, this Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard would make one very fine, very doable house meal on rotation. The adaptations are endless, and its made from largely pantry ingredients. I never thought I'd hop on the cauliflower "rice" bandwagon, but I have to say after making it a few times, I get the hype. 

Read More
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.

Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.

Read More
Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche Tart with a Cornmeal Millet Crust

Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche Tart with a Cornmeal Millet Crust

It's been a uniformly gray and rainy week in Seattle, and I'd planned on making a big pot of salmon chowder to have for the weekend, but then the new issue of Bon Appetit landed on my doorstep with that inviting "Pies for Dinner" cover, and I started to think about how long it's been since I made my very favorite recipe from my cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings. I'm often asked at book events which recipe I love most, and it's a tough one to answer because I have favorites for different moods or occasions, but I'd say that this savory tart is right up there. The cornmeal millet crust is one of my party tricks; when we need a quick brunch recipe, this is what I pull out of my back pocket because it's so simple and delicious. This is a no-roll, no fuss crust with a slightly sandy, crumbly texture thanks to the cornmeal, and a delightful crunch from the millet. In the past, I've used the crust and custard recipe as the base for any number of fillings: on The Kitchn last year, I did a version with greens and gruyere, and I teach cooking classes that often include a version heavy on local mushrooms and shallot. So if you are not keen on salmon or have some vegetables you're looking to use up this week, feel free to fold in whatever is inspiring you right now. Sometimes at this point in winter that can be hard, so hopefully this recipe may help a little. 

Read More