The Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen Director, Belle English, is no stranger to cooking strategy. Under normal go-to-work-come-home-at-the-end-of-the-day circumstances, she’s a big fan of meal prep. “Meal prep is not dead!” she declares. Belle commonly makes a big bowl of a versatile base—say, for example, quinoa—then quickly dresses it up at the end of every day for a wholesome meal.
Belle’s strategy comes into even more play now, as her choice at the market has become somewhat limited so her pull-together meals are an educated sort of alchemy—swapping in this for that to result in a nicely balanced, good looking, absolutely delicious finished dish. “Don’t be afraid to use swaps and substitutions in a recipe,” she says. “We don’t have access to all the ingredients we think we ‘need’ right now, so be resourceful and be creative!”
Belle’s been perfecting her meal prep technique over the years and a big bowl of quinoa is one of her favorite places to start. It stores well and it’s mellow flavor works with a variety of dishes. Try her technique today and you’ll be impressed with how much you can accomplish with the ingredients on hand.
Big Batch Quinoa
• 2 cups (12 oz./375 g) quinoa, rinsed and drained
• 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) water
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
Breakfast Quinoa Bowl
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 cup of the cooked quinoa with 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) almond milk. Add 1 Tbs. almond butter, 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) fresh berries and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes, stirring in more almond milk if desired to achieve your desired consistency. Top with your choice of cocoa nibs, toasted nuts, sliced banana or a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.
Greens and Eggs Bowl
In a fry pan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the 1 cup of the cooked quinoa and two or three handfuls of your favorite greens and cook until the greens are wilted. Add 1 clove minced garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute. Stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Using a wooden spoon, make two wells in the quinoa-greens mixture. Crack an egg into each well and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the egg whites are set, about 2 minutes.
Kitchen Sink Quinoa Bowl
In a fry pan over medium heat, warm a drizzle of olive oil. Add 1 cup of the cooked quinoa and some chopped fresh herbs, then season with salt and pepper and stir until heated through. Spoon into a bowl and top with whatever is in your fridge: we suggest two different vegetables (either roasted or raw), your favorite protein (like leftover cooked salmon, chicken, steak, tofu or beans) and whatever dip you have on hand (such as guacamole, hummus, tzatziki or harissa). Season with salt and pepper and garnish with more fresh herbs, if desired.
Easy Peasy Quinoa and Beans
In a fry pan over medium heat, add 1 can (14 oz./440 g) of your favorite beans, undrained. (Belle likes to use black beans.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the beans are softened and warmed through. Add salt to taste, a big squeeze of fresh lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Add 1 cup cooked quinoa and stir to combine, then stir in a handful of chopped green onions and chopped fresh cilantro. Top with diced avocado and diced black olives, if desired, season with flaky sea salt and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.