Have you ever picked up a recipe book and thrown it down after a few minutes because every recipe calls for ingredients you don’t have (and often, have never heard of)? Yeah, me too.
The whole approach most cookbooks have is, in my admittedly non-culinary-expert opinion, wonky. Completely wonky. Dishes should be built around figuring out ways to use the things you have, not around going out and buying things you don’t usually want or need. That’s a huge part of the reason why so much of our food (¼! Look it up!) goes to waste.
So! Today I’m going to tell you how to make an awesome breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack with whatever you have.
First, figure out what you have in the way of protein and veggies. Eggs, mushrooms, peppers, onions, potatoes, cheese, olives, tomatoes, kale, canned chicken, carrots, and canned fish, tomatoes, lettuce, and parsley are the ingredients I’ve used, but basically any already-cooked meat and savory-type (aka not sweet potatoes) veggies will work.
Next step: get your protein. Eggs can be cooked in the microwave by cracking one or two into a bowl, stirring it and poking the yolk around, covering with a plate, and cooking for a minute or two until it isn’t wet-looking. Canned meats can be “cooked” by draining most of the liquid, spreading it out on a plate, and heating in the microwave until it’s steaming. You can also add any of these spices/herbs to the protein before cooking: thyme, rosemary, sage, pepper, paprika, coriander, cumin, basil, garlic, and anything else that says on the label that it can be used in meats and/or savory dishes. A good rule of thumb with salt, spices and herbs: add less than you think you’ll want, and then if it isn’t enough, just keep adding more—gradually.
Set aside your protein and slice up your veggie material into small slices. Spread it out on a microwave plate and heat until it softens, shrinks, or just plain tastes done. Start with 45 seconds of cooking and keep adding time in no more than 3-minute increments until the veggies are done. I’d recommend starting off with no more than 1-minute increments.
If you want, you can sprinkle olive oil over them before heating.
You might need to do this in several steps depending on how many veggies you want.
A quick guide to telling when veggies are done:
Carrots: done when somewhat soft and not crisp
Kale: done when shrunken to ⅔ to ⅓ of original size
Lettuce: same as kale
Mushrooms: done when shrunken and floppy.
Onions: done when slightly floppy/soft
Peppers: done when shrunken and floppy
Potatoes: done when you can poke a fork through them without any resistance, or, depending on the kind/cut, done when crispy rather than hard
Tomatoes: done when shrunken and with a different texture than at start
Parsley: use it fresh
You can also taste these to see when they’re done.
(Note: all of these are edible raw (even potatoes, as long as they aren’t green), but they work in this style of dish much better if cooked.)
Stir protein and veggies together in a bowl and add salt and any other spices/herbs to taste.
If you have cheese, shred it on top and either leave it that way or stick the bowl in the microwave and heat just long enough to melt the cheese.
That’s how to make a delicious meal from whatever you have in your kitchen, in under 20 minutes, in the microwave. Basically all variations on this recipe will taste great. Obviously, you need fruit and such too in your diet, but variations on this recipe could account for about 65% of your food intake and it would still be a whole lot healthier than the average person’s.
Take that, fancy cookbooks!