When I first learned to cook, I was living at home with my parents and three siblings. So, as one can expect, I learned to cook on a massive scale. Big pots of curry, trays and trays of roasted veggies, and pans of lasagna, were all I knew. I could feed a small army, or a football team, at least. When I moved out to attend college, I shared a house with five of my closest friends. Our place was the hang out house; full of instruments, dance parties, laughter, and loads of food. Originally, I had intended to learn the delicate art of how to cook for one, but being the hospitable hippies we were, I ended up learning how to cook for more and more people. It wasn't rare that I'd feed anywhere form 13-25 hungry musicians and students at a time. Pots of rice and quinoa would cover the stove, every dahl you can imagine would bubble away, and pot after pot of vegan chili would satisfy the masses.
So, this brings me to this startling realization that, at almost thirty, I will be living and cooking for one. This summer I have the amazing opportunity to intern with V.K Rees here in New York, so a couple of weeks ago I picked up shop and moved to Brooklyn. And then the learning began. For the first little while I ended up making myself an odd array of dinner options: toast, hummus and crackers, kale with stuff on it and stuff with kale on it, and of course breakfast for dinner. Lots of breakfasts for dinners. As I grew tired of pancakes and kale, I thought more and more about how, if there were someone else to share a meal with, I would be inclined to put in more time, energy, and love. But why not do it for myself?
Having to learn to scale back and cook just for one is hard, but manageable. And when it comes to finding the balance of making food with love, but still being easy, I think we've found the perfect fit.
Hailing from Indonesia, Gado-gado is basically the ultimate big salad. Meaning "a mix of stuff", or "mix mix", the salad is comprised of raw and cooked veggies, protein, and a tasty nut butter sauce. Basically, everything I love. Some veggies are a staple to the dish including potatoes, cabbage, bean sprouts, green beans, cucumber, tofu, and hard boiled eggs. But it's certainly not limited to these. Greens such as spinach, zucchini noodles, or kale can replace the cabbage, sweet potato or beetroot the potato, even things like broccoli or cauliflower would be delicious. For my version I added some sliced cherry tomatoes that I had on hand, omitted the egg to make a vegan version (although you could easily add it), and opted for a multigrain tempeh over tofu. Basically, this is the essential dish to use seasonal and available produce or whatever is hanging out in the crisper draw. The recipe is up to you.
No Recipe Indonesian Gado-Gado
(This recipe makes enough tempeh and sauce for two people. That way you don't have to make more later in the week.)
Recipe: (Serves 1) Print it Here
2 New Potatoes, scrubbed
1 Large handful Bean Sprouts, about ½c cup
1 Persian Cucumber, or ¼ of an English Cucumber, sliced
1 Cup Shredded Savoy Cabbage
1 Handful Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Handful Green Beans
Handful Cilantro, chopped (some stems reserved -See below)
½ Recipe Indonesian Tempeh (See below)
½ Recipe Coco-nut-butter Sauce, warmed (See below)
- Begin by bringing a pot of water to the boil. Add the potatoes and continue at a rolling boil until they are easily pierced by a fork.
- Meanwhile, as the potatoes boil, heat a frying pan to medium and sauté the cabbage just until soft (you may need to add a splash of water). Set aside and continue to cook the tempeh in the same frying pan.
- Arrange the cabbage, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes, and tempeh in a bowl. Once the potatoes are cooked, chop and add them as well.
- Finally, add the green beans to the potato water and blanch for a mere minute. Add them to the salad.
- Serve with the Coco-nut-butter Sauce, cilantro, and lime.
Recipe: (Serves 2)
¼ plus 2 Tbsp Coconut Milk (use the rest in a smoothie or porridge)
⅓ cup Almond Butter, or nut butter of choice
1 Tbs. lime juice
2 ½ tsp Tamari
1 ½ tsp Honey or Liquid Sweetener of Choice
1 tsp Grated fresh ginger
½ pinch chili
1 Tbsp Chopped Cilantro stalks
1 Small Garlic
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until they come together. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Sever as is or gently heat on the stove top to warm it up before serving.
Recipe: (Serves 2)
2 Tbsp. Tamari
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp. Liquid Coconut Oil
1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
½ tsp. Cumin
¼ tsp. Coriander
8 oz Tempeh, cubed.
1 tsp Coconut Oil, for frying
- Combine the tamari, honey, garlic, 1 tsp oil, vinegar, and spices in a dish.
- Add the cubed tempeh and let sit to marinate for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Set a frying pan to medium heat and once hot, add the other tsp. oil and tempeh. Toss for about 5 minutes or until crispy and brown.