When the days are short, cooking dinner can sometimes seem like an impossible feat. Day seems to morph into night without warning. The gentle buffer zone of twilight where we shed the day and slow ourselves down seems to be over before it’s really even begun. It is in the hush of this dark season where I find myself waking early on Saturdays to cook in batches, whole meals that will require no more than some gentle warming in the evening to nourish and comfort. Days and weeks where dinner is made before we’ve finished breakfast feel like gifts, and make a Saturday morning in the kitchen well worth it. Some music, comfy shoes, and a warm cup of tea, and I’m ready to go. This method not only makes the evenings more indulgent, but it helps me make sure I’m using up all my CSA produce, especially the stuff that takes a little longer to prepare and might be neglected on a weeknight. Here’s what I made ahead this week:
Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup with Naan
Roasted Vegetables with Orzo
Kale, Swiss Chard, and White Bean Soup with Beet Salad and Sourdough
My trick for batch cooking is to prep all of one kind of ingredient only once. Here’s the how I did it:
You will need:
1 lb of white beans
6 white potatoes
5 sweet potatoes
14 cloves of garlic
2 cups of chopped tomatoes (fresh, frozen, or canned)
6 cups of bell peppers
20 ounces of frozen (or fresh) peas and corn
½ lb swiss chard
½ lb kale
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 tsp of dried thyme
1 lb butter
7 cups of bone broth
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
½ cup of sherry
1 tsp fennel seeds
Salt and black pepper
1 cup of milk or cream
vinegar of your choosing
1 bay leaf
1 tsp of herbs de provence
2 tsp coconut oil
3 tbsp of red curry paste
2 cans of organic, full fat coconut milk
Add 1 lb of white beans to a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. When the water boils, turn off the heat, and allow the beans to sit, uncovered, for an hour. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, peel and cut into large chunks 6 white potatoes and 5 sweet potatoes. Peel 14 cloves of garlic. When the water boils, add the white potatoes and two cloves of garlic to the boiling water. Trim the root and stem ends from 6 beets and rinse well under water. Add the beets to a steamer filled with a few inches of water, cover, and turn on high.
Trim, peel, and chop 6 onions. Move 1/6 of the onions off to the side, and split the remaining onions into three equal groups. Finely chop the remaining 12 cloves of garlic. Trim, wash, and chop 14 carrots. Check the beets and white potatoes, and when they can be easily pierced through with a knife, remove from the heat and set aside. Empty the water from the potato pot, and set the pot aside.
In a large dutch oven, heat 2T butter until melted and sizzling. Add one of the three larger piles of onions to the pan, and saute for five minutes. Add 2 cups of the sliced carrots to the pan, and stir and cook for five minutes more. Add 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground pork to the pan, and stir and cook until browned. To this pan, add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp of dried thyme, 2 cups of bone broth, 1 cup of canned tomatoes, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp worcestershire sauce, and ½ cup of sherry. Simmer this mixture for 20 minutes.
While the shepard’s pie is simmering, trim and chop six cups of bell peppers. Add the bell peppers to a large bowl, and stir in one of the larger piles of onions, and add 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh, frozen, or canned). In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup of olive oil, ⅓ of the chopped garlic, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 2 tsps of salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Pour the oil mixture over the vegetables, and toss to mix well. Move the oil and vegetable mixture into a freezer-safe container, and put it in the freezer. (These are the vegetables for your roasted vegetables with orzo).
Transfer the potatoes back into the pot they were cooked in, add ½ cup butter, 1 cup of milk or cream, and 2 tsp salt. Mash well.
Slip the skins off the beets and set the skins aside for compost. Slice the beets into bite sized pieces, and add them to the bowl where you mixed the vegetables and oil. Drizzle the beets with vinegar, olive oil, and salt to taste. Toss well, then cover and refrigerate. (These are for the beet salad)
Stir 20 ounces of frozen (or fresh) peas and corn into the meat mixture on the stove. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture, dot the potatoes with several pats of fresh butter, cover, and refrigerate. (This is your shepard’s pie)
Rinse and dry the pot used for the mashed potatoes, then add 2 tbsp butter and melt it over medium heat. Add the last large pile of onions to the pot, and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add half of the remaining chopped garlic to the pan, and stir for one minute. Add five cups of bone broth, 1 quart of water, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of herbs de provence, and 2 tsps salt. Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the pot as well. Simmer for one hour or until beans are cooked through.
While the bean soup is simmering, use another of the now empty pots to melt 2 tsp coconut oil. Add the final and smallest pile of onions to the pan and cook gently over low heat for ten minutes, then add the last of the garlic and stir for one minute. Add ½ salt and ¼ tsp pepper along with 3 tbsp of red curry paste. Add the chopped sweet potatoes to the pan, stir well, and then stir in 2 cans of organic, full fat coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring now and again, for 25 minutes.
While the sweet potato soup is cooking, wash and finely chop ½ lb swiss chard and ½ lb kale. Add the greens to a container with a cover along with the remaining carrots, and move this into the refrigerator. (These veggies will be added to the white bean soup before serving) When the white beans are cooked through, remove the soup from the stove and allow to cool.
When the sweet potatoes are soft, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth and silky. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Transfer both soups into fridge/freezer safe containers, and either freeze or refrigerate.
Now you find someone else to wash the dishes!
Ingredients You’ll Need for Serving:
All pre-prepped items
Fresh chopped parsley
Fresh torn basil
1 lb orzo
Two loaves of crusty bread or 1 loaf bread and 1 batch of naan
Shepard’s Pie - preheat the oven to 425. Add the covered dutch oven to the warmed oven, and warm for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, sprinkle the potatoes with chopped parsley, and cook for 15-20 minutes longer until the mixture is bubbling and slightly golden. Serve and enjoy!
Kale, Swiss Chard, and White Bean Soup with Beet Salad- transfer the soup to a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped carrots and greens that you’ve stored in your fridge. Simmer until the carrots are soft. Remove the beets from the fridge, toss them with some fresh chopped parsley and feta cheese. Serve the soup along with the beet salad and some crusty bread!
Roasted Vegetables and Orzo - the night before serving this, move the container of oil coated vegetables from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator. To serve, heat the oven to 400, spread the vegetables on a roasting pan, and cook for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the orzo. In the last ten minutes of cooking, stir in some fresh torn basil into the roasted vegetables. When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the roasted vegetables to the cooked pasta, toss well, and top with some crumbled feta. Serve and enjoy!
Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup - warm gently in a large soup pot until heated through. Serve with crusty bread or naan and butter.