Minestrone

Chock-full of fresh veggies, this Italian classic has made it into our short list of winter staples. It’s particularly well suited to the holiday season as a healthy counterpoint to all the cookies.

Source improved upon public domain Difficulty trivial Time 20 min preparation, 35 min cooking Serves 2

Minestrone, the mother of all vegetable soups.

Minestrone, the mother of all vegetable soups.

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Aglio, olio, et al. (-io)

In its simplest form, this Italian classic consists merely of spaghetti dressed in garlic (aglio) and olive oil (olio), though chili flakes and parsley are a common addition. We’ve replaced the flakes with fresh chili, reinforced the olive taste with actual olives, and heightened the addiction factor with toasted pine nuts. One of our more sinful creations — be sure to combine it with some lazy veggies to balance it out!

Source improved upon public domain Difficulty trivial Time 25 min Serves 2

Mmmm…

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Lazy Veggies, Part I: Nuked tomatoes and zucchini

A word of warning: This is the first of a series of messages which will thoroughly and entirely bereave you of any and all excuses to skimp on your daily rations of vegetables. These tasty recipes are so easy you can literally set them up while cooking spaghetti with canned tomato sauce and not lose any time. (And before you ask: no, canned tomato sauce does not count as a serving of vegetables…)

Microwaving is not only a convenient and quick way of preparing vegetables, but also a particularly healthy one, since the cooking time is minimal and there is no loss of nutrients from drained-off cooking water (see Wikipedia).

Source public domain Difficulty trivial does not even begin to describe it Time 2–5 min for preparation; 3–7 min for microwaving Serves 1–2 as a side dish

Freshly nuked tomatoes with a very conservative amount of cheese. ;o)

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Red lentil dal

Here’s one of our all-time favorites: healthy, satisfying, chock-full of complex warming flavors, this Indian-style spicy lentil stew has proven an effective antidote against Dutch weather. Its stress-free preparation makes it an ideal way of unwinding after day’s work.

Source improvement over a recipe from Vegetarisch Kochen Difficulty trivial Time 20 min for preparation; ~20 min for simmering Serves 2

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Red lentil dal with basmati rice, here further served with homemade paratha bread and mint-coriander chutney (not included in this recipe).

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Summer couscous

This light yet satisfyingly filling dish really shines on swelteringly hot summer days where the mere thought of eating is exhausting, but makes a refreshing and healthy lunch all year round. It can be prepared in large quantities with negligible effort and feels at home in tupperware, which makes it an ideal bring-along dish for a grill party.

Source improved upon various public sources Difficulty trivial Time 30 min for preparation; benefits from an hour or two of soaking in the fridge Serves 2, but can easily be scaled to fill a large salad bowl

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It’s never too hot for a bowl of summer couscous!

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Fresh mint tea and lemonade

Fresh mint is a great cooking resource; expect to see it again in a few more recipes. You can buy packaged bunches of fresh mint sprigs or potted mint plants in supermarkets. The plants can survive a suprising amount of neglect (unlike, say, basil), thus they’re compatible with nerd kitchen. Of course, once you’ve discovered fresh mint for yourself, you’ll likely consume your plant to stumps before it has a chance to wilt.

The most straightforward use is to give a handful of mint sprigs a quick wash and then steep them in piping hot water. Sweeten to taste (honey is traditional, but artificial sweetener works just fine too). Voilà: fresh mint tea. Try it; it’s quite different from the dried mint that comes in bags.

Fresh mint tea as I like it best: With added black tea and just a bit of sweetening (artificial sweetener works fine).

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Bread pudding alla Ticinese

This delicious traditional treat has its roots in the sunny italian-speaking canton of Ticino in the south of Switzerland, from where it was passed down through my grandmother Irène’s cuisine. The preparation may take a bit of time, but it’s pretty much foolproof. The only skills required are mashing and waiting.

Source family recipe  Difficulty trivial  Time a few hours, but only about 20 min of that is actual work; the rest is waiting  Serves 4–8 people depending on appetite, keeps a few days in the fridge.

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