I feel pretty good about my vegetable life at dinner time, but I’ve recently realized I am not terribly consistent about getting produce into my lunches when I’m working from home. When I even have lunch, that is. Often my mid-day meal, if I remember to stop what I’m doing to actually have it, is just a forkful of leftovers standing in front of the fridge, or a handful of nuts and dried fruit or Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers straight from the bag — think a small plates experience that has gone very wrong. So I’m making a real effort to do what The Weekday Vegetarians taught me how to do at dinner: Start with the Vegetable, then build the plate from there. (Bonus: I find that if I take time to have a real lunch, a mindful lunch, as they say, then I’m less likely to turn into a wolverine later in the afternoon.) Here are a few recent favorites.
Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Miso-Scallion Butter
Japanese sweet potatoes, also known as Murasaki potatoes, look like sweet potatoes on the outside, but their skins are deeper magenta and their creamy yellowish flesh is lighter and less cloyingly sweet than regular ones. I used to only be able to find them in select markets, but now I see them popping up everywhere. A version of this recipe is in The Weekday Vegetarians, but it was Kay Chun who recently reminded me of all kinds of ways to upgrade that miso butter. You don’t need a lot — miso-scallion butter is so intensely flavorful that a little goes a long way. I like to make a little pot of it to dip into all week long, for lunch and for dinner, for Brussels, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, virtually any roasted vegetable.
Make Miso-scallion butter: In a small bowl, using a fork, mash together 3 tablespoons butter (preferably room temperature), 1 tablespoon sweet white miso, 2 minced scallions until integrated.
Bake the potatoes at 425°F until the skins feel loose and slightly crispy, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and split each one lengthwise, holding the potatoes with an oven mitt or kitchen towel because they’ll be very hot. Let them cool slightly, then add a tablespoon of miso-scallion butter to the potato with a little sea salt.
Depending on my hunger level, I’ll give half the potato to Andy or sometimes have a little dollop of plain yogurt on the side, just to get a hit of protein.
Mound of Greens Topped with Some Form of Egg
I have been very into broccoli rabe lately — I actually feel its mineral-y richness activating my brain cells — which is what you are looking at above, but regular broccoli (chopped finely), broccolini, spinach, kale, chard are good options, too. (And frozen vegetables are not only legit, but encouraged. Remember my Frozen Green Bean phase?) To make: Throw your veg in a hot skillet (even if they are blocks of ice) with 1, maybe 2 tablespoons olive oil; salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if that’s your thing, then cook about 5 minutes. (I keep the heat on medium-high because I like a little char. Also, I use scissors to snip the greens right in the pan.) While your greens are cooking down, prepare an egg however you desire. Serve the egg on top of vegetables with a drizzle of sriracha. Sometimes I drizzle the greens with a little soy sauce, too. Sometimes I add chopped onions or garlic to the pan (or onion powder or garlic powder). Knock yourself out.
Kale, Apple, Almond Salad
My friend Lia told me once that her goal is to have one big salad a day and I think of this all the time, even if I don’t necessarily practice it. Kale, Slivered Apples, Slivered Almonds is my go-to for lunch. (A version of this is in The Weekday Vegetarians, with pomegranates.) Lately, I’ve been liking my apples to be peeled and sliced very thin, because I just love the combination of the crispy tangy apple (no chewiness) with soft and creamy almonds. This is a super easy lunch as long as you have a dressing made. If you don’t have a dressing made, it’s downgraded to just a plain old easy lunch. The above photo served two and was 1 bunch of lacinato (Tuscan) kale, shredded, 2 tablespoons minced red onion, 1 Fuji apple, peeled and sliced, and 2 tablespoons roasted sliced almonds. Toss with your favorite dressing.
Pureed Vegetable Soup
Hahahahahahahahaha I barely have time to cook at dinnertime, let alone lunchtime. Well, I get that, but just to make sure you fully realize how simple it is to make a hearty broccoli (above) or cauliflower soup, here is a reel I made for instagram last week. It features cauliflower, but you can use that formula with almost any vegetable. This is obviously a great dinner, too.
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