For the first time ever, I’ll be living alone this summer. The problem is, I have absolutely no clue how to cook. I can cook a box of pasta and an egg, but that’s about it. I’m excited but nervous about this opportunity to teach myself how to cook, especially because I am a vegetarian. As I’ve realized over the years, it’s a lot easier to buy frozen meals and heat those up. However, if I spend a whole summer by myself with a kitchen, I need to learn to make nutritious vegetarian meals finally. I’ve started to do some research in preparation for this new adventure, and have come across some recipes and types of food I’m looking forward to cooking and eating.
As a vegetarian, tofu is a big part of my diet. The tofu in our dining hall can be really good, but other times not so much. I’ve cooked tofu once at home before, and have learned that there are infinite ways to prepare the vegetarian staple. One of my favorite meals our dining hall makes is sweet and sour tofu, and I’m hoping I can replicate this recipe over the summer. The New York Times Cooking website has an extensive list of vegetarian meals that I will be heavily referencing. One of their recipes that caught my attention is their Za’atar Roasted Tofu with chickpeas, tomatoes, and lemon tahini, which is a mix of some of my favorite ingredients. I hope my tofu journey goes smoothly, for I know learning this skill will open doors to infinite recipes.
Last Christmas, I gifted my mom a book all about bread making. I’ve always wanted to learn how to bake bread, and especially more recently as my mom has been experimenting with different recipes at home. She has a simple and quick pita bread recipe that I know will come in handy as a last-minute side to a meal this summer. Another simple dough I’ll be incorporating into my meals is the easy pizza dough my mom has made since my brother and I were little. My mom puts our dough in the freezer for nights when we’re running short on time, so I’ll keep that trick in mind when it comes to my busy work days.
Pasta (of course)
I know I already said that I know how to cook a box of pasta, but the recipes stop there. I suppose by pasta I mean I’d like to learn how to make different types of pasta sauces. If I’m going to be making pasta, I can’t have a basic tomato sauce every time. I would love to learn how to make my own pesto, especially if I can get fresh basil from nearby. Additionally, pasta is another way I can incorporate meat substitutes into my meals. When I ate meat, my mom made amazing spiced meatballs that I would love to recreate with Beyond Meat. There are so many different recipes involving pasta, so I know this is a reliable group of food for my summer.
For the Days Where I’m Lazy
I need to be realistic with myself. I’m working a 9-5 internship; I’m not going to want to cook every single day. There are going to be nights when I’m eating frozen meals. Trader Joe’s has a great selection of frozen vegetarian meals, and I already know I’ll be taking advantage of all of these. Amy’s Kitchen also is an amazing frozen meal option for vegetarians and vegans, with a lot of their meals also being gluten-free. Three of my favorite prepared meals I’m definitely relying on this summer include Trader Joe’s Outside-In Stuffed Gnocchi, stuffed with Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella, Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala, and Amy’s Pesto Tortellini Bowl. A few that I have been keeping my eye on for when I get home are Trader Joe’s French Onion Macaroni & Cheese, Impossible Chicken Nuggets, and Amy’s Tortilla Casserole & Black Beans Bowl.
I hope to take advantage of my kitchen and the farmers’ market right down the street this summer. As I’ll be spending a lot of time outside of my internship on my own, cooking will be a good hobby to pick up—both useful and entertaining. I’m trusting my years of helping, but most of the time getting in the way of, my mom in the kitchen to guide my personal cooking journey this summer. But if all fails, I do know how to make a good box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese.