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.


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


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.


  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!
    Camila F.

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