Sometimes cooking is an utter joy! I feel rapture when I head into the kitchen to turn fresh, aromatic, gleaming ingredients into a tasty, healthy dinner or snack or treat. I love the creativity of chopping, deeply smelling, mixing, and seasoning. A teaspoon to taste with and a nice napkin to eat with. This is what perfect food evenings are made of.
At other times, cooking can seem so utilitarian. We need to eat, so food must be made so that we can put it into our mouths. We are hungry, tired, and I feel uninspired. But I am learning to enjoy the routine cooking as well as the special. When there is no time for fanciful steps or three course dinners, I am finding pleasure in organising a nice meal with an efficient hand. And in the less time, the better, since there is washing up afterwards.
A good first step is great ingredients. Here's one: Cavolo Nero is a dark green, slender cabbage, often called black cabbage. It can be cooked in any kale or cabbage recipe and makes a comforting warm dish for a cold day.
This was a speedy side dish for a busy weekday evening. Grilling a turkey breast is easy enough, so I used what little energy I had left to make a nice veggie dish to go with it. As a bonus, it also made the next day's lunch with the addition of some leftover quinoa. Any other grain would work, too. So there are two meals sorted, with only a little effort required. Now, over to the couch for the much needed relaxing; washing up can wait a while.
Warm Cavolo Nero Salad
serves 2 as a side dish + 2 lunch boxes
2 garlic cloves
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger root
1 head of cavolo nero (black cabbage)
1/5 head of white cabbage
1/2 c (a handful) frozen peas
1 c (about 160 g) cooked quinoa
Mince the garlic and ginger, then fry gently in olive oil in a large pan for about five minutes.
Remove the midribs from the black cabbage and chop into bite-sized pieces. Chop the white cabbage into bite-sized pieces.
Add the two types of cabbage to the pan. Add 1/2 c (125 ml) of water and cover the pan. Let cook over a medium low heat for 5 - 10 minutes; longer for more tender cabbage.
Add the peas and tomatoes and remove the lid. Cook over medium heat for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the peas are hot and the liquid has evaporated.
Season well and serve as a side dish for two people.
Mix the leftovers with the cooked quinoa and save in lunch boxes.