I’m meeting a friend for a bite to eat and a few glasses of happy at Spill the Wine for a late-night catch-up, so I don’t have grand plans in the kitchen tonight. But here’s the thing: I’m hungry now. What’s a guy to do?
You’re familiar with Second Breakfast, right? You grab some yogurt and fresh fruit and chow down in the morning, you’re oh-so-proud, and suddenly you’re at work checking to see when it’s time for lunch. And it’s 9 a.m. It’s time for Second Breakfast. Plan wisely, and you’ll have granola, nuts or oatmeal in your desk. Plan poorly, and you fall victim to scrounging for office doughnuts.*
So what do I do tonight? Have Dinner Round 1 immediately upon getting home from work, then Dinner Round 2 four hours later? This got me thinking about the staples in my kitchen. The absolutely-must-haves. There are the cooking essentials, of course — olive oil, balsamic, spices — but I really thought about my I-get-sad-when-I-run-out-of-them items, and was surprised how short the list was.
For the last few months, my must-haves have been:
- black beans
- dried cherries and cranberries
- plain yogurt
If I have those on hand, I can whip together breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course, I generally have a few other ingredients handy as co-stars, but these are the foundation for many whipped-together, running-late meals for me.
So how did I solve my dinner dilemma? Black beans, mashed into a paste, spread on a tortilla, with a sliced Roma tomato. And, as the just-happened-to-have-it, cilantro. A heavy snack, or a light meal … perfect for Dinner Round 1. Which brings me to last night’s meal, the Chorizo Seitan Soft Tacos pictured above, as well as the fact that I really have no problem having reruns in the kitchen.
OK, friends — I want to get to know you, too. What are your must-haves in the kitchen? What staples do you go to when you need to make a meal quickly? Tell me! It’s OK if it’s cereal. Or caviar. But if it’s caviar cereal, I think you might be a little weird.
*Confession: I hate doughnuts. I hate them so much. It’s OK if you like them. We can still be friends. But please don’t bring them to any dinner parties. It will get awkward.