(A quick note: Although I sometimes post recipes, I’m not interested in being a recipe blog. Instead, I want to talk about the mechanics of using up, making do, and doing without when it comes to meal planning.)
In the past, I’ve talked about the general concept of meal templates and pointed out the ones I use for frittatas, cottage pie, chicken pot pie, etc. But during our quarantine summer, I’ve been making pad thai once a week to use up bits and pieces from our farm share.
It’s a strange feeling, making this dish, because it makes me feel like when I first started cooking, because again I’m suddenly right at the very edge of my ability to multitask, handle pressure, think creatively. As when I first started learning how to cook, I still can’t make this one and still be kind if someone is in the room trying to help. Nonetheless, it’s a worthy recipe, and I pass it on to you as a way to hide vegetables in plain sight and make something a bit fancy or different after months of extra cooking at home.
Here is the recipe I use. It’s written exactly the way I like a template recipe to work, with a mix-and-match approach of tried-and-true ingredients. A few notes: I’m cautious about buying exotic ingredients that might go to waste, but if you can get tamarind concentrate, it makes a noticeable difference (even for someone with an iffy sense of smell/taste!), though I just subbed sugar at first and that was still good. Also, you can definitely cram more than a cup of sautéing vegetables into your batch if you’re feeling desperate to use things up — the sauce stretches just fine. And finally, you can use whatever Asian noodles you have (I made a batch with a combination of Chinese, Thai and Japanese noodles and I had to stagger the cook times but it was still delicious.) Probably you could just be an ugly American and use angel hair, but I haven’t tried that. (Tell me if you go the ugly American route and it works. Or doesn’t!)
What new recipes or approaches to cooking have you adopted since all this coronavirus craziness started?