School Night Meals, Part I

tempeh from TJ's.

Monday at a coffee shop, I was approached by a friend: “What classes are you taking that you get to read fiction?”

The beauty of 3L. Thanks to my light reading load, I was able to forego trademarks in favor of finishing the following:

I’ll get to the schoolwork eventually, but I couldn’t put either of these down. I was inspired to read the Joyce novel after I read one of his short stories in the Sedaris compilation. What took me so long to get to him? And, Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being has always been one of my favorite books, so I decided to return and try his first. He’s a Czech author who wrote a lot about Prague during Communism, and this book is no exception.

I’m moving on to Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, which was recommended to me by the roommate of a bartender at Beer Run during a bourbon barrel stout-fueled conversation about who we should be reading instead of Franzen. I’ll keep you posted – but I imagine my pleasure reading time is coming to a close.

Our time preparing more intricate meals is also going to be limited, so we’ve shifted our focus to school-night meals – balanced dishes we can prepare in short amounts of time with the things we have lying around our kitchen.* With a few exceptions [including one today], my focus will change from giving out structured recipes to describing flavor or ingredient combinations that work well and maximize nutrients. Here’s what we have so far:

Protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A, cancer inhibitors, vegan: Spicy Marinated Tempeh and Kale Salad.

tempeh from TJ's.

The key to a healthy salad: a green, a protein, a fruit/vegetable, some color, some crunch, and no heavy dressings [think: ranch, caesar, 1000, bad]. The kale was soaked in lime juice while the tempeh marinated in garlic, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and chili flakes. Topped with cherry tomatoes and pumpkin seeds, this was spicy and filling. Citrus + spice is a great salad combination, and kale is firm, meaty, and filled with fiber – much more rewarding than iceberg or romaine.

Protein, fiber, anti-bloat, anti-free radicals, B-vitamins, vitamin C, portable: Kale Smoothie. Made in our brand-new blender [an amazing Christmas gift from Shaun’s parents!]:

it's a monster.

It’s perfect to take to class, which is exactly what I did. I ordered a new to-go smoothie cup on Amazon to combat the mess I made in Antitrust with my travel french press-cum-smoothie container.

for coffee, not smoothies...

Recipe forthcoming!

[Good] carbohydrates, protein, vitamin C, lycopene, immune system booster: Artichoke “Marinara” with Broccoli and Tofu. Made completely with things we had laying around:

cabinet spelunking.

Simmer onion, garlic, tofu, diced tomatoes, basil, parsley, oregano, crushed olives and [tons of] red chili flakes:

pasta sauce.

…while artichoke pasta boils and broccoli steams [don’t cook the broccoli in the sauce, steaming is best for flavor, texture and nutrient absorption]. 20 minutes later, you’ve got a spicy, hearty pasta:

could've been spicier...

The keys: fresh [not dried] spices and canned tomatoes. We can’t all be perfect and have our own jarred tomatoes, or peel tomatoes for fresh from-scratch marinara, but please oh please don’t use that store-bought “marinara sauce” junk. It’s got preservatives, sugar, chemicals… forego. Please.

And there you have it, three dishes to throw together. I’m not sure what the rest of the week will bring, although I know there’s one night of fish stew and one night of C’Ville Restaurant Week on the horizon. Stay tuned for the Kale Smoothie recipe.

* Not really “lying around.” We put things in cabinets and drawers and fridges, I promise.


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Categories: Food, Recipes


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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4 Comments on “School Night Meals, Part I”

  1. January 25, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    YUM to the quick kale and tempeh combo- will add that to my own school night rotation!

    • January 25, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      Go for it! I think it took all but 5 minutes to prepare, minus the marinating.


  1. School Night Meals, Part II | Ryes and 'Shine - January 27, 2012

    […] salad itself was prepared similarly to the kale salad from the other night: after I cooked 1/2 cup of the bean/lentil mix [simmered it whilst studying], it soaked in […]

  2. Steamer Madness | Ryes and 'Shine - February 9, 2012

    […] quick meal [for more ideas, see School Night Meals Part I and Part II] consisted of a no-bull burger with steamed carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli. Pro-Tip […]

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