Cook Once Dinner Fix: Cassy Joy Garcia

          Leftovers make me feel guilty. More than they should, they frequently sit and sit in my refrigerator until, as my mother would say, “they’ve served their time” and can be thrown out for good reason—they’re no longer edible. There must be a better way.

          Now Cassy Joy Garcia shows us that way in her new cookbook, Cook Once Dinner Fix: Quick and Exciting Ways to Transform Tonight’s Dinner into Tomorrow’s Feast (Simon & Schuster 2021). I had previously written about Garcia’s first cookbook, the bestselling Cook Once, Eat All Week:  26 Weeks of Gluten-Free, Affordable Meal Prep to Preserve Your Time & Sanity, a title that pretty much says it all. This time around, Garcia again is all about saving time and money while creating great and healthy meals. Featuring 120 easy to make recipes, she uses leftovers from one recipe to create a second completely different meal for another meal.

          The trick, says Garcia, a holistic nutritionist who created the blog Fed + Fit, is to create twin recipes such as Dry-Rubbed Barbecue Brisket and then transform it into a second meal–the very yummy Cheesesteak-Stuffed Peppers and her leftover Roasted Garlic Turkey Breast becomes Spiced Turkey Potato Soup. Both twin meal shave different flavor profiles but enough commonality that it’s easy to adapt each one of a series into a second day dinner without fuss.         

In one dinner series, Garcia takes simply roasted cauliflower florets, transforming them into what she describes as a “craveable, nourishing General Tso’s take on cauliflower and then into the most satisfying tacos inspired by tinga, a Mexican stew.

The bold flavors of the sauces and the way we quickly re-crisp the cauliflower creates the magic. You will not be bored by these dishes, and I bet you’ll find yourself craving them often.”

         She also provides tips, substitution ideas, and a list of categories such as dairy-free, egg-free, freezes easily, gluten-free option, and nut-free to help those on special diets know which recipes will work for them.  

“I really like the idea of being able to bridge tonight’s effort into a meal in the future,” says Garcia, who lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and two children. “If you don’t get ahead, you’ll feel like you’re constantly catching up.”

We can all identify with that.

The recipes below are from Cook Once Dinner Fix by Cassy Joy Garcia.

MEAL 1                                                                                                

General Tso’s Cauliflower

Serves 4

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

  • 4 medium heads cauliflower (21/2 pounds total), cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 11/2 cups uncooked white rice, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh   ginger
  • 1⁄3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (see Tip)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (sliced on an angle), for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Toss the cauliflower florets with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, then divide them between two rimmed baking sheets, arranging them in an even layer, and sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops of the florets start to brown.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package instructions.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the honey, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, cornstarch, and broth and whisk until well combined and smooth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Transfer half the cooked cauliflower (about 6 cups) to an airtight container and refrigerate to use for Meal 2 (it will keep for up to 5 days). Add the remaining cauliflower to the pan with the sauce. Toss to combine, then remove from the heat.

Serve the cauliflower over the rice, garnished with the green onions and sesame seeds.

TIPS

  • Garcia says to ook for chili garlic sauce, a bright red Vietnamese condiment, in the international foods aisle. She uses the Huy Fong brand with the rooster on it– the same brand as her favorite Sriracha.
  • If you like less heat, use just 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce to make the dish milder.
  • If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, use a vegan fish sauce.

MEAL 2                                                                                                

Cauliflower Tinga Tacos

Serves 4

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

  • 3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • About 6 cups roasted cauliflower (reserved from Meal 1; see page 244)
  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl, whisk together the chipotles, tomato paste, lime juice, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and 6 tablespoons water. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat evenly.

Spread the cauliflower evenly over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops of the cauliflower florets start to darken.

Divide the roasted cauliflower among the tortillas. Top with the avocado, cilantro, and onion and serve, with the lime wedges alongside for squeezing over the top.

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Fresh Arugula Salad

Serves 2

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

For the Roasted Chicken

  • 1 (4- to 4 1/2-pound) whole chicken
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Fresh Arugula Salad

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, stir together the butter and garlic until well combined.

Rub about half the garlic butter over the outside of the chicken. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and smear the rest of the garlic butter under the skin.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Tuck the wing tips under the joint where the wing meets the chicken’s body. Using about 6 inches of kitchen twine, tie the ends of the drumsticks together.

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear and/or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of a thigh registers 165°F. If the skin starts to brown too deeply, tent the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, roast the potatoes: In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil. Spread them out over a rimmed baking sheet and season with the salt.

When the chicken has been in the oven for 35 minutes, put the potatoes in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, or until they start to look golden brown.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven, tent it with foil (if it’s not already tented), and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the arugula salad: Place the arugula in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and massage the dressing into the leaves. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Carve the legs, thighs, and wings from the chicken, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate to use for Meal 2 (it will keep for up to 5 days). Carve the chicken breasts from the chicken and divide them between two plates.

Serve the chicken with the potatoes and arugula salad alongside.

MEAL 2

Butter Chicken Bowls with White Rice

Serves 2

Active time: 35 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Cooked chicken legs, thighs, and wings (reserved from Meal 1), skin removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from about 1/2 inch)
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (from one 18-ounce can)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Add the chicken and toss to coat in the spice mixture.

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and caute for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant but not browned.

Add the seasoned chicken to the pan, reserving any spice mixture left in the bowl, and sear, undisturbed, for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom, then stir and sear for 3 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate.

In the same pan, whisk together the tomatoes, yogurt, cream, lemon juice, and any remaining spice mixture until combined. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until fragrant and slightly reduced in volume.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package instructions.

Return the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes more, then remove from the heat.

Serve the chicken over the rice, garnished with the cilantro.

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