Some people believe vegetables are only good if they’re cooked just before mealtime. This is not always true, explains Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal. Get your prep work done early with her time-saving, veggie-friendly meal tips.
Each week I buy whole bunches of the leafiest, stemmiest vegetables I can find. Then I scrub off their dirt, trim off their leaves, cut off their stems, peel what needs peeling, and cook them all at once. By the time I’ve finished, I’ve drawn a map of the week’s meals and created the beginnings of a succession of them.
Then each day I pick up where I left off. On Monday night, I decide to neatly make a vinaigrette, plump a few raisins in warm vinegar, and have a roasted vegetable salad. Or I warm some vegetables up with a sprig of thyme, a little broth, and a splash of cream and have soup. On Tuesday, I choose to eat the salad as is, or turn what is left into a frittata, or I decide to eat soup and spend my time making little garlic-rubbed toasts to accompany it. On Wednesday, I add freshly chopped mint and vinegared onions to roasted beets, or perhaps press garlicky cooked kale into sandwiches, or toss the kale with a béchamel sauce and spread it in a buttered dish to make a warm, bubbling gratin.
This ensures my vegetables don’t go bad—crisper drawers must be some of the most inaptly named things in history: I have never seen anything get crisper in one—it also means that I eat vegetables at most meals: turned into cooked ingredients, mine are as convenient as canned beans.I like to roast vegetables. I can fill my oven once and create a week’s worth of healthy, delicious ingredients. Roasted vegetables are also particularly good when they have had a few days to settle into themselves.
I recommend buying two heads of cauliflower or broccoli or one of each. Both are celestial cooked in a hot oven. They’re also two-in-one vegetables: cauliflower’s pale leaves and solemn core and the leaves and stem of broccoli can be eaten.I buy one or two whole bunches of beets. Beets love to be roasted, are better cold than hot, and wait, without losing their pluck, to be turned into different dishes all week long.
Look for beets with their dark green leaves attached, then salvage them from their delicious roots and sauté them with garlic and olive oil, along with the rest of the greens you buy. Other vegetables also have pleasantly peppery tops. If you ever have to buy beets or tur¬nips or kohlrabi already shorn of their leaves, ask whoever is mind¬ing the farm stand or stocking vegetables about them. You’ll likely be given what they just sheared.
If it is autumn or winter, buy one butternut squash, or any combination of carrots, parsnips, celery root, and turnips. Simply roasted, these are one of the great pleasures in life. I grew up eating them hot at dinner, turned into salads at lunch, and cold as an after-school snack. There’s nothing wrong with a snack of granola, but there is something unarguably right with one of roasted vegetables.