I love my kids dearly, but I have no problem admitting that feeding myself while also feeding them can be boring and uninspired.
They are starting to eat a wider range of foods, but they’d never eat, say, browned butter beans with seared scallions, carrots and garlic, my dinner last night. We’d been on spring break for a week, so when they went to their dad’s yesterday, I broke out a can of beans and just-for-me cooking.
What’s just-for-me cooking? Exactly what it sounds like: Food you make when you don’t have to feed anyone else. I didn’t know where this dish was going when I started, but because I was cooking for one, I didn’t have to worry about meeting someone else’s palate needs/wants.
I peeled and chopped two carrots and cleaned up the near-wilting green onions in the bottom of the vegetable drawer. (This is also the kind of dish you make when you’re low on groceries.)
I’d seen a recipe for browned butter beans somewhere — though I can’t for the life of me remember where so I can thank the author — so I drained, rinsed and dried those canned butter beans while I sauteed the veggies. When I was digging around in the pantry, I also remembered I had a bag of Central Market quinoa and bulgur I’d picked up at the store for moments just like this.
I popped that bag of ready-to-eat grains in the microwave, and by the time I’d cooked the veggies, all that was left was to sear the beans.
Frying beans in a hot pan with a little oil seemed like an odd technique when I first read about it, but butter beans are big and solid enough to take and even benefit from the direct high heat. The flat side of the bean gets a little charred, especially if you are generous with the olive oil. (If you try to cook these in a dry pan, I suspect they will degrade and turn to bean mush, which isn’t the goal here. Do not fear the oil.)
The beans cooked in about 5 minutes. I added the veggies back to the pan and then served the mixture on top of the quinoa/bulgur with a good pinch of flaky salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and another drizzle of olive oil. In less than 20 minutes, I had a fiber-rich, nutrient-dense Meatless Monday meal all for myself, with leftovers to boot.
I’ll be making versions of this dish again, especially with that pre-cooked quinoa and bulgur. I’ve made both of those grains plenty of times, but it’s too easy to accidentally over/under cook them or make them too watery. I’m willing to pay more to not have to fuss with it, especially on cooking-for-one nights like this.
What do you cook when the kids (or spouse or parents or roommates) are away? Do you keep any helper products around for making meals in a pinch or when you’re running low on groceries? Tell us in the comments or share a photo on Instagram with #Austin360Cooks.