Today: The brightest dinner you can make straight out of your freezer.
This is the recipe that will save you from all of your pesky kitchen failings. Did you forget to make a plan for dinner tonight? Do you need that dinner to be on the table five minutes ago?
Shop the Story
Do you have a coterie of forgotten greens and anemic herbs in your crisper drawer that aren't making dinner happen any faster? Do you wish that you could press your freezer into service at moments like these, and that a logical strategy for freezing and defrosting ran in your blood the way that ordering pizza and scrambling eggs do?
It's okay! We all have these moments. I have them all the time. Happily for all of us, this Secret Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce from Amanda Cohen, chef-owner of New York City's most celebrated vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy, solves every one of our classic problems, and does it with so little effort, it's shocking we never thought to do it before. "I'm kind of surprised people like this recipe so much," Cohen wrote to me. "Because I really did just throw it together to deal with my own refrigerator shame."
It's a secret weapon in more ways than you'd expect. First, it's a quick way of shuttling all of your faltering greens and herbs and desiccated nubs of ginger out of their holding pens and into the future. Just blanch the green stuff, don't wring it dry, pile it in a blender with garlic and ginger, and then pour it all into an ice cube tray.
The real dinner secret weapon is packed in these mulchy-looking ice cubes. Squirrel them away in your freezer and you can have a vividly flavored fried rice or stir-fry anytime without washing or chopping or peeling—or even defrosting.
Add a few cubes straight from the freezer into the skillet at the last moment to instantly release all the flavor and fragrance you locked away in ice. Add whatever vegetables (or eggs or leftover bits and bobs) you have in the fridge and your whole kitchen ecosystem is suddenly operating at 100% efficiency.
Though Cohen likes it best for dispatching lingering containers of take-out rice, "It's adaptable for any grain, really," she says—anywhere you want "a really big, bright green blast." Five minutes ago.
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Associate Editor Ali Slagle for this one!
The Genius Recipes cookbook is finally here—and a New York Times Best Seller! The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites—all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It's on shelves now, or you can order your copy here.
Photos by James Ransom
The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."