Cooking in reverse
Following a recipe in Bermuda used to look like this:
1, Pick a recipe
2, Drive round multiple stores collecting ingredients for said recipe
3, Get home and start making recipe but realise you forgot one thing
4, Send other half back out to the store to get the missing ingredient
5, Receive call from other half saying missing item is not there
6, Send them to another store
7, Other half returns triumphant — with actually the wrong thing but you don't have the heart to tell them
8, Anesthetise yourself with a glass of wine
9, Cook the recipe anyway with new, surprise ingredient
10, Enjoy a spectacular dinner and collapse in a heap.
Covid-19 has changed things a little. Given access days, queues and face masks, the chances of us going into more than one store are pretty low. I still love shopping, but I know lots of you are nervous of diseased humans and have retracted into your shells somewhat — and understandably. The stores are doing an amazing job of managing hygiene and resources but it's an anxious time for lots of people, I know.
The positive to all this, is that many of us are doing a lot more with what we have. We're finding ways to cook with what we can get, or with what we have left, rather than constantly “topping up” and accumulating lots of excess and waste. I was chatting with a long-time girlfriend Emily about this and we agreed we're now “cooking in reverse”. It's all about ingredients first, and the recipe comes second.
To be honest, I've been doing this for a fairly long time. Because I never really knew what would be available in our Bermuda shops, I started just buying whatever looked good and fit the budget. Then I would create meals around that. So when my clients ask me if I follow my own Nutrifit meal plans, I have always, very honestly answered, no! I absolutely follow the general guidelines, but I don't cook to a meal plan. The meal plans are there for people who are learning, who love or need the structure and guidance and who don't want (or have time) to think. Ultimately though, the aim is to get people to a place where they can pull a healthy meal together themselves, using whatever they have to hand.
But two weeks ago, Emily and I decided that “cooking in reverse” deserved a little bit of shared love, hoping it would help make lots of people's lives easier. She had posted an amazing looking salad online, I asked her for the recipe and she said that she just had a few things lying around (radishes, cucumber) and used Pinterest to find a recipe that matched what she had. By the time she was finished it was a beautiful dish, covered in toasted walnuts and an amazing vinaigrette. We thought we'd share what we come up with as we cook in reverse, in the hope that it inspires you too. It's a great way to take advantage of seasonal produce and it's brilliant for reducing your grocery bill and preventing waste.
While we'll always share the recipes, the goal is to encourage you to do the same. Whenever you find a fantastic ingredient, jump online and find a recipe to match what you have. Don't be afraid to make switches and be flexible. It's usually not going to matter if you switch a nut for a different type or even juggle your protein sources. Chicken curry can become wahoo curry very easily. You can always pretend that's what you planned anyway!
The recipe below started with a bag of multicoloured carrots from Miles Market. They looked a little rough around the edges because you can't see how amazing the colours are before they're washed or peeled. Cut them open though and they have these incredible orange, yellow and bright purple colours. Different colours mean different nutrients so it's a great way to cook one thing but optimise nutrient exposure. (As an aside, my kids were wary of purple carrots and didn't think they would like them, so we did a blind taste test and they realised they couldn't taste the difference between the colours anyway, awesome!)
I really didn't have much at home but I know cumin goes well with carrots and I had lots of that. I did a Google and between that and a little creativity, this is what I came up with. Don't be afraid to switch the type of nut. I just happened to have macadamias but pistachios, walnuts or almonds would work well … or try sesame/pumpkin seeds if you need to be nut free!
Do join Emily and I on Instagram and Facebook for more #cookinginreverse inspiration, and drop us a hashtag if you join in. We'd love to see what you come up with too!
Roasted carrot salad with toasted macadamia nuts
(For a crowd, serves approximately six as a side)
2 bags multicoloured (or ordinary) carrots, peeled and cut into sticks (4 sticks for a small carrot, 6 for a large)
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
½ lemon, quartered
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs light olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
½ — 1 cup macadamias, roughly chopped
1 box arugula
1, Preheat the oven to 355F. Line a large baking tray (or two) with baking paper.
2, Toast the macadamias gently in a dry pan over a medium heat, and set to one side.
3, Whisk together the olive oil, garlic and spices in a large bowl.
4, Add the carrots, onion and lemon to the bowl and toss to coat evenly.
5, Spread everything across the baking tray(s) and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until tender and a little caramelised.
6, Enjoy warm or chill, and serve on a bed of arugula family-style! Either way, sprinkle with macadamias before serving!
• Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram