What’s in your Gentle Kitchen pantry? If you are a highly organised, experienced (much admired) cook there may be some exotic spices, or something guaranteed to produce a sure-fire quick-fix dinner or a much-loved recipe preserved from the kitchen garden.
And if you are like the rest of us and still finding your way around the produce aisle (when did carrots become purple?) you are on a journey to discovery so don’t be so hard on yourself.
A busy working person or a student struggling in a less-than-desirable kitchen may enjoy my go-to guide for quick plant-based cooking ideas. There are plenty of wonderful cook books to browse but at the end of the day you just have to know some pantry basics.
- Always have some staples in your pantry and refrigerator like coconut milk, healthy looking curry bases, marinated tofu, firm tofu, big mushrooms, tins of peeled tomatoes, corn kernels, brown rice, onions and garlic, ground flaxseed (for pancakes).
- You don’t have to buy greens in bulk. Yes they do look pretty in the refrigerator but a stack of kale can be off-putting when you are tired and hungry. I prefer to shop for fresh produce in small amounts (1 zucchini, a head of broccoli, 12 snap peas, a red pepper) and actually go ahead and eat them. All of them.
- Chop your salad New York style to pack more greens into your life. Bite size pieces of everything with a great and preferably oil free dressing is ideal for lunch or dinner.
- Buy or grow a bunch of parsley, some basil and chives. Keep them like a floral arrangement on the kitchen bench, snip with scissors and add to everything.
- Learn to make perfect brown rice and freeze it in small bags for instant meals. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a couple of cups of rice (proportion of rice to water not important as it’s not the absorption method), simmer for exactly 30 minutes then immediately drain off all the water, leave the rice in the saucepan with the lid on for 10 minutes and then fluff it.