There are two kinds of people who cook at home: the first kind chooses an elaborate recipe, buys all of the ingredients, spends hours cooking it, invites friends to eat it, spends hours cleaning it, and takes the rest of the week off. The other kind has long-range vision, makes a large batch of something and uses that batch to feed his or her family for the rest of the week. This kind of home cook–the true home cook–is resourceful, inventive, and frugal without letting that frugality show. And, lately, I’m proud to say, I’m shifting from Column A to Column B. Let me prove it to you with a bag of lentils.
Observe: on a Monday night, after going to the gym, I shower there so I can be properly dressed for Whole Foods. True, you don’t have to be properly dressed to go to Whole Foods, but I hate the idea of going in there covered in sweat wearing workout shorts. A man has to have some dignity while shopping for organic produce.
At Whole Foods, I purchase a bag of green lentils, smoky bacon, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, a Fresno chile and two filets of salmon (skin-on).
When I get home, I basically follow this recipe, only I use the whole bag of lentils and cook the finished lentils in a larger pan. I also add a chopped Fresno chile for some heat, but you don’t have to do that.
When those lentils are done, I get two small pans very hot, pour in a little oil, sprinkle salt and pepper on the fish and sear each fillet–skin-side down–for a few minutes:
Then, very carefully, I flip the fish over and finish it in the oven until it’s just cooked through. I serve the fish on top of the lentils with a squeeze of lemon and a glass of this Pinot Noir, also purchased from Whole Foods ($20; acidic, with notes of cherry and 80s hair metal):
Meal one, complete. And there’s still a big pan of lentils waiting to be used for night #2.
So on night #2–that would be Tuesday–I come home and take the pan of lentils out of the refrigerator. I also take a packet of frozen Andouille sausage (from Lindy and Grundy) out of the freezer and defrost it in a big bowl of warm water.
I slice the sausage on a bias:
Get a non-stick skillet very hot with some olive oil (I use non-stick because I’m not looking to create a fond on the bottom of the pan, since the sausage is just going straight into those lentils; if I wanted to, I could use a metal skillet and then deglaze it with wine, pouring everything into the lentil pan too—that might be nice, but I didn’t do that) and add half the sausage:
When the sausage is brown all over, I pour it into the pan of lentils which I’ve been heating (with a little water) on the stove:
I repeat with the remaining sausage and then taste the lentil pan for salt and acid. It tastes lovely. And here’s the second dinner served up:
But my resourcefulness doesn’t end there.
On that first night, that Monday night, I saw three black bananas sitting on top of the fridge. I decided to turn them into banana bread with some remaining buttermilk using this recipe:
My resourcefulness knows no bounds!
I’m thinking of having that printed on a t-shirt. I just won’t wear it to Whole Foods, especially if I’m sweaty.