Well actually all you really need are carrots, celery, onions, and a few other things to create delicious meals on a regular basis. You know how I feel about ingredients. They are affordable and enable you to prepare your own healthy meals whenever you please. I’ll give you two lists of things that you should keep on hand to make delectable dishes and a couple of easy peasy recipes to prove it.
Chilies (jalapeno, Serrano, etc.)
Cilantro (or any fresh herb you use on a regular basis)
Beans (at least 2 or 3 kinds)
Stock/Broth (I like vegetable, but chicken or beef work too)
Canned tomatoes (diced, pureed, whole)
Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
I’m working under the assumption that you have salt, pepper, and sugar (or some kind of sweetener) on hand already.
Let me explain my rationale for these choices. There are certain bases that you can create for any number of dishes. I’m all about that base, ‘bout that base. Sorry I couldn’t resist. Here are some examples.
Mirepoix is a classic French combination of diced carrots, celery, and onions. It’s usually one part carrots, one part celery, two parts onion. For example, it would be ¼ cup of carrots, ¼ cup of celery, ½ cup onions. It’s a great start for soups and stews.
Trinity is classic in New Orleans cooking. It’s a combination of diced celery, onions, and bell peppers. I’m pretty sure you can’t make gumbo without it, although I’m not a gumbo expert.
Sofrito is a Latin base that is much more flexible in it’s ingredient list, but could include any or all of the following: onions, bell peppers, chilis, garlic, cilantro. The list goes on. There are as many variations as there are cooks.
Here is a short list of meals you can create with the ingredients listed above and, as promised, recipes follow. There are also links to recipes that I have provided previously on this site.
Vegetable Soup (Vegan)
1 quart vegetable stock
2 cups water
1-15oz. can diced tomatoes with it’s liquid
2-3 carrots, sliced
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
¼ to ½ cup onion, diced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Simmer until vegetables are cooked through. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Note: Add any additional vegetables that you have on hand. This is a great way to use up leftover veggies. Just don’t cook them for as long as the raw ones. Feel free to add any herbs and spices that you like as well. You can even add some beans to bump up the protein and make the soup a more complete meal.
Gringa Style: Add 1 tsp. each of cumin and chili powder as well as ½ cup each of sliced zucchini and corn kernels. To finish, add some chopped cilantro. Some cooked black or pink beans would also be a delicious addition. (add approximately ½ cups of beans or more to your liking)
Italiano Style: Add 1 tsp. (or more to taste) of each dried basil and dried parsley. Add up to 1 cup zucchini and/or summer squash as well as some cooked white or garbanzo beans. (add approximately ½ cup of beans or more to your liking)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bell peppers in half. Remove stems and seeds. Stuff with leftover Black Beans and Rice. Place peppers in baking dish. Cover with tomato sauce. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until peppers are cooked and everything is heated through.
Note: If you really want to be efficient and save yourself another night of cooking, prep the peppers on the same night that you prepare the Black Beans and Rice. Double the recipe, if necessary. Set everything up in a baking dish, cover and refrigerate (or freeze). On a night when you don’t have time to cook, pop the baking dish in a 350 degree oven and cook through.