I’ve been seeing a lot of double duty dinner prep in food world recently. It’s ingenious and especially timely, as making dinner is exponentially harder with two kids than one. The things they don’t tell you, amiright? While in theory I’m still up for a great cooking project (I will conquer you, Banh Xeo!), dinner time has become more of a balancing act than it used to be. I no longer have the sacred hours of 3 to 5, prime dinner prep time, because Alice is no longer napping. This was an event she was preparing me for through recent multiple nap strikes, but it was nevertheless shocking, frustrating, and debilitating (especially when it comes to putting something edible on the table). It has taken the wind out my sails for extravagance in the name of authenticity (I’m looking at you lasagne), and at one point made me consider throwing everything out of our freezer and filling it with Costco tortellini and pasta sauce. We could survive on that, right?
Enter the vegetable triple threat: a way to prep once and reap the rewards all week long. Roast a ton of veggies on a sheet pan on Monday. Blend it with some water and herbs as you’re cleaning up and bam! Dinner’s made for Wednesday. Saute it with chicken, red curry paste, and some coconut milk and wow! You’ve got curry for Friday. Here’s why this is the best plan ever:
- It makes it so easy to add veggie goodness into a meal. Salad is the last thing on my mind when Alice is so innocently wrestling Parley because I’ve taken my eye off the sleep deprived pair of them for 20 minutes. If you don’t have the time to make a veggie side dish, no worries. The main dish will already be packed with them
- The flavors are so varied. I was worried the dishes would all taste the same, but they didn’t. At all. Using different things to flavor each dish (rosemary and sage for the soup, red curry for the curry) really makes them into completely different taste profiles. However, for the sake of not having something orange-hued for three nights in a row, I preferred to space them out over a five nights.
- The recipes are so forgiving. Roast some cauliflower or red pepper in with veggies! Stir some cream into the soup! Grate some ginger into the curry! Don’t do any of these things! It will still taste great, because any use of roasted veggies is going to turn out tasting good.
Roasted Winter Vegetables and Chicken for night 1
This makes enough for 2-3 people for each night. If you want more, just add in more vegetables on another baking sheet. I can’t because our teeny tiny oven can’t handle anything more than a half baking sheet. #studenthousing4life
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves (not peeled)
Salt, pepper, and olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400
Put the veggies in a sheet pan, and season liberally with salt, pepper, and drizzle some oil on them. It will be a bit crowded, but it will work! Shake the pan (or use your hands) to more or less coat each piece. Place the chicken thighs on top and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes. Make sure you set aside the garlic cloves and most of the onion – though they’re delicious roasted, they’ll provide a lot of flavor for the soup and curry if you leave them be the first night. (Also, make sure to follow the first direction for the soup while you clean up! Warm veggies are easier to blend than cold ones)
I like to eat this alongside pasta and tomato sauce, but if you’re not as obsessed with carbs as I am, you can just eat it up without anything else.
Roasted Veggie Soup for night 2
Before you stick the leftover veggies in the fridge on night 1, peel the garlic cloves and all the vegetables in a blender. Start to blend, and pour in water slowly to get things going. Stop adding water when everything is smooth. It will be thick. You can add more water or liquid of your choice when you make it into soup, but you’ll want the rest to remain thick for the curry.
Whenever you want to eat the soup, place a little olive oil in soup pot. Throw a teaspoon each of rosemary and sage into the oil and fry for a second. Add in 1.5 cups of the soup (or as much as you want, just make sure to leave ½ to 1 cup of it for curry) and warm it up. Add some water, milk, or cream if it’s too thick. Taste it, and add some salt and pepper if necessary (depending on how much you watered it down, you might need some more salt and pepper to boost the flavor).
Instead of rosemary and sage, you can try a shake of nutmeg and cinnamon for a savory “pumpkin spice” feel.
- Drizzle with some heavy cream
- Pistachios, or really any nut. The crunch adds great contrast.
- Parmigiano Reggiano, pecorino, or that amazing Irish Dubliner cheese (I try not to buy it, but it’s just so good and Costco has it at such a great price!)
- My favorite thing has got to be brown butter sage leaves. If you have fresh sage leaves, fry them up in some browned butter before drizzling the now magically infused butter and crunchy leaves on the soup.
- Just eat the thing with a piece of bread. It tastes amazing all by itself.
Winter Veggie Red Curry
While I am so partial to homemade curry paste, I realize not everyone (1) cares about making it homemade and (2) has the time/energy to do find the ingredients. While it’s a straightforward recipe, the ingredients are sometimes a little hard to find, and they absolutely require a trip to a well stocked Asian market (which can be intimidating). For the people who this interests, you want to check out this. Rinscookbook’s youtube channel is where I go for everything Thai. All of her recipe are MAGICAL. They taste just like a Thai restaurant. I almost fell over when I made her Tom Ka Gai soup, it was so good.
Also, I’ll be posting my recipe for red curry paste (a simplified version of hers) soon.
For the rest of the world who just wants a decent dinner, pick up a bottle of red curry paste in the asian aisle of any grocery store.
Here’s the curry:
1 lb boneless, skinless breast or thigh chicken meat, cubed
2 tablespoons red curry paste
½ cup coconut milk
1 cup blended veggies (or whatever you have left)
Heat a little oil in a pan. Add in the curry paste and fry until you can smell it. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and throw them in. Stir to coat the chicken. Add in the coconut milk and the blended veggies. simmer until the chicken is cooked. Add more coconut milk if you want it thinner. Serve over rice and glorify in the fact that you didn’t have to chop anything for dinner.