No-Recipe Bowls*


macaroni_kale_2_exp.jpgSee the Hearty Salad Bowl "recipes" in this section for more ideas!    This Macaroni - Kale - Veggie Thing on the left was phenomenally delicious... and quick!  No recipe needed!  This version included chopped kale, dill (fresh or dried), tomato, raw purple onions, whole-wheat macaroni (cooked without salt) and walnuts.  You can't see it in the photo but it was tossed with one of our favorite dressings:  lemon tahini (made with low-fat tahini). 

You could use collard greens or lettuce instead, etc., walnuts are optional, could use spaghetti, rice, corn or other grains instead of macaroni, or even cut-up baked sweet potato.  You could add in some lightly cooked veggies (zucchini, green peppers, or broccoli, celery, etc.; I like to briefly dry-fry them in a non-stick pan).  It's nice to have some *mild* onions around, like purple onions or Vidalia, so you can throw them in raw. 

If you like this dressing, and keep it handy in the fridge, the rest is super-fast.  Buying pre-cut greens, or cutting them yourself in advance, also makes this quick.


To the right is another variation of whatever you call this sort of thing.
I'll call this one Cabbage-Rice Medley

This had brown rice, raw cabbage, peas (frozen peas, steamed) and mango, with a few dried herbs, and dressing (lemon tahini again). 

Instead of mango, you could use raisins, apple pieces (sprinkled with lemon juice so they don't brown).  You get the idea:  Whatever!


 veggies_frying_exp.jpgI guess I'll call this ...

Chick Pea, Pasta Stir-fry Prima Vera  

Step 1:  First I dry-fried carrots, onions, & peppers in a non-stick pan (i.e., no oil). Don't over-cook.  In the photo there's a pile of cabbage which I didn't cook.  




 Step 2:  With some chick peas and some whole-wheat macaroni, it's done, all except for some dressing. 




DRESSING NOTES:  Lemon-tahini dressing or vinegar-tamari-tahini, are staples.  To either of these you could add a little prepared mustard, garlic powder, or pepper.  Dried dill weed is a great addition to any dressing or stir-fry, IMO.  It's usually easier to make dressings yourself since store-bought low-fat or no-fat dressings tend to be awful.  Or use a little Hoi Sin sauce, or BBQ sauce (which contain sugar) if you feel like you need it sweet, though we generally recommend avoiding sugar.  You want to avoid oil which would tend to undermine the health benefits of the salad.  The nutrient - to - calorie ratio is what counts.  Oil is pure fat, a highly processed food, is not a healthy ingredient.  But a little healthy fat from nuts, avocados or seeds (tahini) may increase absorption of micronutrients.  A small handful of nuts is all you need for this.  If the dish is has a flavorful variety of ingredients, then a little lemon or lime juice may the only dressing you need.   




Let's call this Kidney Bean & Cabbage Surprise!

Step 1: Lightly dry-fry some veggies in a non-stick pan, just enough to caramelize (sweeten & get browned or a little black in places), but still crunchy.  Letting them sit in the pan without stirring will achieve this effect without over-cooking them.  Try to under-cook rather than over-cook.  Pictured are onions, carrots & celery. The tendency is to cook them too long, so be careful.  Alternatively you could just steam them if you like.





Step 2:  Throw in some raw cabbage and some cooked beans (pictured are black & kidney beans). 








Step 3:
With a little dressing, this turned out really good.





THE SKY'S THE LIMIT:  You can pretty much include any of the above ingredients with any others.  If your creation tastes too plain you can always jazz it up with something extra, such as corn, pasta, beans, nuts, avocado, raisins, dressing, or herbs.  (Nuts, avocado and raisins are famous for making things more delicious).    

Not just the boy scout's motto, it's the key to eating well.  You can cook rice, barley or other grains ahead & store in the fridge or freezer.  Some of this involves shopping strategy; you may want to favor cabbage, carrots, onions etc. which can be stored for longer periods than some other veggies.  

Beans:  Make sure to keep canned beans around; they're a lifesaver (literally).  Even better, to avoid the expense, salt, and BPA (the harmful chemical that comes in everything canned), soak, cook, and freeze your own in advance.  Freeze in canned-sized (or two-canned size) batches since most recipes call for a "15 oz. can" of beans.  One 15 oz can = about 1 1/2 cooked beans =  8 ounces cooked beans by weight.  They cook fast in a pressure cooker (as do some slow-cooking grains like brown rice & black rice).  In a pinch you can defrost frozen items quickly on the low setting of the microwave.

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commented 2013-01-03 12:33:53 -0500 · Flag
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published this page in Food Without Recipes 2012-01-13 18:31:00 -0500