It may surprise you to learn that we actually eat lots of do ahead meals in our house.
Even though I love cooking. And would be happy to cook every day, I’ve found that when I’m taking photographs for my blog, or a book or a new online cooking class, it’s much easier to batch the work and have a big cooking and photography day.
This means we often end up with a fridge full of pre-cooked meals. Especially when there’s a new class on the horizon.
Over the last 4 years I’ve had a lot of experience in the best way to store and reheat all sorts of meals. Even the ones you wouldn’t normally think of as make ahead dinners.
And before I forget, I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all of the 888 people who took the time to complete last week’s survey about my upcoming online class, ‘The Organized Cook’.
When was going through the results and saw ‘do ahead meals’ as the second most requested topic, it sparked some inspiration. So today I thought I’d share with you my ‘golden rules’ for making sure do ahead meals taste their best…
The 3 Golden Rules of Do Ahead Meals
Rule 1. Just make more of what you’re making.
The thought of getting extra meals ready in advance can be off putting. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to be ‘captain organized’ to get the benefits of having some extra meals prepared in advance.
The easiest and most efficient strategy is to cook extra of whatever you’re already making. Eat some now and store the rest. While there is sometimes a bit of extra work in doubling or tripling a recipe, it’s rarely double or triple the effort. And usually doesn’t take any extra time.
Rule 2. Keep the components separate to store.
This is all about making sure the texture and temperature of each component aren’t compromised.
Keeping the components separate enables you to store, reheat (if needed), and serve each in the best way for each component. This means your slow cooked lamb shanks can be served piping hot with a cool crisp salad on the side for contrast and maximum deliciousness.
It also makes it easier to ‘mix it up’ and add variety so you’re not serving a carbon copy of the original meal each time.
Rule 3. Serve with something fresh.
Whenever I’m serving a pre made meal, I always try to add something fresh just before it goes to the table. This helps to make the whole meal feel fresh and new. It also helps balance things from a nutritional perspective.
Sometimes it will be a green side salad as in the example above, other times it’s some fresh herbs scattered on top. Or even some toasted pine nuts for some extra crunch.
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Whole Roast Cauliflower with Almond Tabbouleh
I think cauliflower is one of the most underrated vegetables. I love that it packs the same nutritional punch as its cousins broccoli and cabbage, yet its white colour gives it more flexibility than green veg.
And I should mention, if you’ve been looking for a gluten-free tabbouleh recipe that’s also ‘paleo’ then this almond tabbouleh is for you. We’re just using almond meal instead of the cracked wheat. I love the softer texture and creamy slightly nutty flavour you get from the almond meal.
Enough for 4-6
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup (60g / 2oz) almond meal
hummus, to serve
1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Trim outer leaves from cauli and place the head in an oven proof pot that holds the cauli snugly.
2. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cauliflower is well browned and tender enough to cut with a butter knife.
3. Meanwhile, for the salad, combine lemon juice with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Season. Toss in the parsley and almond meal.
4. Slice the cauli into wedges and serve with hummus, tabbouleh and more extra virgin olive oil drizzled over. Plus lots of salt and pepper!
do-ahead – roast cauli then cool and refrigerate. To reheat just pop back in the oven for 15 minutes or until warm. The tabbouleh is one of those rare salads that can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for a few days, just give it a good toss before serving.
carnivore – Serve as a side to roast chicken or brown some minced (ground) beef and scatter it over the hummus before serving.
nut-free – replace almond meal with cooked quinoa, cooked couscous or bulghur wheat that has been soaked in water until soft and then drained.
spiced cauliflower – combine a tablespoon each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds and dried chilli flakes with a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle over the cauli before roasting. If you have some baharat (Lebanese 7 spice blend) it works really well too. Or try some finely chopped red chilli.
make your own hummus – whizz 2 cans chickpeas with 6 tablespoons each of the canning liquid, lemon juice, tahini and 2 cloves garlic. When you have a creamy paste season and add in a little extra virgin olive oil.
different herbs – feel free to mix up the herbs in your tabbouleh. Mint, coriander (cilantro) and basil are all worthy additions.
more substantial / carb lovers – serve with warm pita bread or tortillas.
Have fun in the kitchen!
ps. The FREE email series includes a FREE downloadable / printable ‘cheat sheet’ which will give you a big head start.