A Dialing-Back-Carbs Week
A collection of recipes from Bittman's newest book
There is such a thing as too much bread and pasta: I live it. With a professional baker as my partner, we often eat too many carbs — even if it’s beautiful bread made with Bittman-approved flour (mostly, though my partner Rick is not as much of a whole-wheat purist as Mark). So while there’s very little chance we’d ever go on Keto or any variation of it, sometimes, we have to be more conscientious about diversifying dinner. Or at least I try.
Below, I’ve put together a handful of recipes from Mark’s newest book, How To Cook Everything Fast, including a hard-boiled egg snack; tuna salad with green beans, which can be luxurious with good canned tuna; tofu and cauliflower, and stir-fried chicken with chard. Perhaps you’ll join me in spirit with these recipes.
Hard-Boiled Eggs with Dijon Mayo
Everything you love about deviled eggs with none of the hassle. You can even prepare the recipe through Step 2 up to a day or two ahead of serving.
Serves 4 or more.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
1 bunch chives
1. Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. One at a time, gently lower the eggs straight from the fridge (or not) into the boiling water with a spoon so they don’t crack. Cover, turn off the heat, and set the timer for 10 minutes (if you want the yolks set but not chalky; adjust less or more as you like).
Fill a large bowl with ice water.
2. Put 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
Chop 1/4 cup chives.
3. When the time is up, the eggs are done.Transfer them to the ice water with a slotted spoon. Leave them submerged for at least 1 minute.
4. Crack and peel the eggs. Transfer them to a cutting board and halve them lengthwise.
5. Sprinkle the eggs with a little salt and dollop the mayonnaise mixture on top of each half. Garnish with a little more salt and pepper and the chives and serve.
Canned Tuna Salad with Avocado and Green Beans
There are so many ways to buy "canned" tuna now. Packed in olive oil is almost always my preference, large chunks or small fillets if possible. Bonus points if you find some in jars. In general, stay away from tuna in pouches since it tends to be mushy. Another way to serve this (and the tofu variation that follows) is over mesclun with lemon wedges and whole-grain bread or crackers.
1 pound green beans
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 small red onion
12 ounces oil-packed tuna(in jars or cans)
1. Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a large skillet and salt it.
Trim the green beans and cut into 2-inch pieces.
Halve the lime; squeeze the juice into a large bowl.
2. Add ¼ cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon soy sauce to the bowl and whisk to combine.
Trim, peel, halve, and thinly slice the onion; add it to the bowl.
Halve and pit the avocados, scoop out the flesh, cut into chunks; add them to the bowl.
Prepare a bowl of ice water big enough to hold the green beans.
3. When the water comes to a boil, add the green beans, cover, and cook until they’re just tender, about 3 minutes.
4. Drain the beans and immediately transfer them to the ice bath.
5. Break the tuna into chunks and add it to the bowl. Toss gently, adding more olive oil if the salad looks too dry. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.
Tofu and Cauliflower à la Suvir
A quick braise based on a Chinese-Indian dish known as “Manchurian cauliflower” made famous by my friend (and phenomenal chef) Suvir Saran. I’ve been doing different interpretations for years since the ketchup-based sauce is amazing with virtually everything. Serve in a rice or grain bowl (if you’re not cutting carbs) or stuffed into sub rolls.
5 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
1 brick firm tofu (14 to 16 ounces)
Salt and pepper
1 small head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
2 cloves garlic1 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1. Put 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
2. Add the tofu to the skillet (it’s okay if the pieces are crowded), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the bottoms are golden and crisp and release from the pan, about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to stir once they release. Cook, stirring once in a while, to crisp and brown as many sides as possible, another 5 minutes or so.
Trim and halve the cauliflower and cut out the toughest part of the stalk. Break or chop the rest into bite-sized pieces.
Line a plate with towels.
3. When the tofu is ready, transfer it to the towels with a slotted spoon.Add 2 tablespoons oil and the cauliflower to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and raise the heat to high. Cook undisturbed until the florets sizzle, about 3 minutes.
Peel and mince 2 cloves garlic.
4. Stir the cauliflower; let cook undisturbed until lightly browned in places, another 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add the garlic to the skillet along with 1 cup ketchup and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Cook, stirring, until the ketchup starts to bubble and caramelize around the edges of the skillet.
6. Return the tofu to the skillet and toss to coat with the sauce; add a splash of water if the mixture needs to be thinner for better coverage.7.Turn the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the tofu is warmed through and the cauliflower is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.
Stir-Fried Chicken and Chard
It might not be the most common green used in stir-fries, but chard takes well to high heat and has a ton of flavor. The leaves soften quickly and acquire wonderful singed brown spots (especially in a cast-iron or carbon-steel skillet), while the little bits of the stems form a crunchy counterpoint. Try serving this with soba noodles for something different.
4 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 11/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
1-inch fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch chard (about1 pound)
2 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
Sesame oil for serving
1. Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Slice the chicken into 1/2-inch strips or chop into bite-sized pieces.
2. Add the chicken to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until it sizzles and releases easily from the pan, about 3 minutes. After that, stir occasionally until it loses its pink color and browns in places, another 5 to 10 minutes.
Peel 1 inch ginger and 2 cloves garlic; chop them together.
Trim and chop the scallions, keeping the white and light green parts separate from the dark green tops.
Rinse and trim the chard, keeping everything but the toughest stem ends. Cut the leaves across the stem into ribbons as wide or thin as you like.
3. When the chicken is done, add the ginger, garlic, and white and light green parts of the scallions. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute. Transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl.
4. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the skillet and turn the heat to high. Add the chard, a handful at a time if necessary to fit it in, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the leaves soften and begin to brown slightly, 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Return the chicken mixture to the skillet; add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 cup water and stir until most of the liquid evaporates before turning off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the scallion greens and serve, passing sesame oil at the table.
I have made the tofu and cauliflower a couple of times now and can confirm that it’s delicious, on brown rice or in a sub roll. I had real doubts, but the slightly charred cauliflower combines with the ketchup (who knew!) and minimal seasonings to become way more than the sum of their parts. Only, be sure to have everything measured out in advance, or your food will char a little harder than expected and the fire department will come to your house to check on dinner! I will be sure to make this again but next time I will open the windows first. It might also be helpful to pat the tofu dry before cutting it up for a more crisp surface.
Thanks for this. As winter approaches, it’s a good reminder to dial back a bit. I like the idea of just being selective about the carbs. If someone brings me an amazing homemade loaf of sourdough, no way are we not going to eat it up. The grower of figs shares a homemade fig and pear tart??? It would be blasphemy to waste it. But we can pace ourselves on the other stuff. In our house we used to have a baguette or rolls with many dinners, especially with a salad course. Now we tend to trade it up for a vegetable or fruit. Are we banking our carbs for when it counts??? 😂