January menus, with or without resolutions, should be gentler and milder given the inevitable excesses of December.
For post-vacation cooking (since your kitchen has undoubtedly seen a lot of action lately), you want convenience, lightness, and ease, and these three dishes have it all. They can be served one after the other, as a menu for a quiet dinner or alone.
We all crave comfort, especially this winter, and nothing calms you down like a warm soup, whether as a starter or a meal. Pureed vegetable soups are both easy to prepare and quick to cook. It’s just about cooking the vegetables tenderly and flashing the contents of the pot.
There are of course details that need to be considered. Make sure to season the soup as you cook it – it should taste good even before it goes into the blender. And there is the question of thickness. I prefer a mashed soup that pours easily and has a creamy consistency rather than one that is as stiff as a porridge. But that’s easy to do: it just means adding a little more fluid when needed.
Classic leek and potato soup is known and loved. Replacing the potatoes with parsnips may seem arbitrary, but the result is sweeter, earthier, and more fragrant. I’ve kept it simple and just flavored it with salt and pepper and a touch of turmeric for the color, but it’s satisfying and tastes like what it is. Searing the vegetables very slowly before adding any liquid is the key to success. I like it best with water instead of broth – it makes a lighter soup. For a little wealth, a dab of crème fraîche or yogurt or a splash of olive oil can be nice.
As a main course, you can’t go wrong with meatballs in general. While a meatball can traditionally swim in red sauce, in the spirit of a lighter, leaner cuisine, these are made from ground chicken and are sauceless.
However, there is no restriction on taste; The chicken mix is laced with aromatic spices. A mixture of black pepper, lemon peel, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and crushed fennel seeds provides the necessary momentum. Cooked chopped spinach, a shower of coriander and a little serrano chilli give the required green, herbaceous back notes and a little kick.
To keep cooking time to a minimum – and to keep the taste to a maximum – make the meatball base a day before cooking. Gently frying the meatballs in olive oil over medium heat will keep them moist. (Heavy boiling would make them tough.) For a pleasantly light meal, skip any type of sauce and serve the seasoned meatballs with steamed rice and lemon wedges or alongside a salad made from leafy vegetables.
A great fruit salad is a perfect dessert. Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, it’s delicious and breathtaking. Winter is the season for citrus fruits. So if possible, choose between brightly colored oranges and grapefruits, including blood oranges. Fuyu kakis, even now in season, can be eaten raw and unripe. (Pointed-bottom hachiya kakis can’t.) They have the slippery texture of mango and a nice taste somewhere between melon and papaya.
Light, ruby-red pomegranate seeds like sweet and sour jewels round off the whole thing. I think this salad, well chilled, doesn’t need a side dish or additional flavoring at all. However, if you want more, add a dash of orange liquor or limoncello.
After an intentionally relaxing meal like this one, leave the table glowing with no regrets.
Recipes: Creamy leek and parsnip soup | Herbed Chicken and Spinach Meatballs | Citrus and persimmon salad