Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever—or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples—or your seasonal produce—every which way.
I always keep fresh ginger root stocked in my fridge. It is such a versatile ingredient and can be used to flavor soups and curries just as easily as it can be popped into a mug of warm water for an ad hoc tea. When shopping for ginger, look for roots that are firm with smooth skin and a strong gingery aroma, and keep it stored in the fridge in a sealed bag or container. One little fresh ginger root can go a long way—sweet, savory, or even juiced. The possibilities are almost endless. Here are my 5 favorite ways to use this magical root:
Fragrant Black Rice
One of the simplest ways to use a good knob of ginger is to throw it in with some rice or grains as they boil to infuse them with flavor. This fragrant Forbidden Rice (also known as Chinese black rice) is simmered with ginger, cinnamon, and orange zest until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes if soaked; 40 minutes if not. I then serve it alongside some spicy roasted sweet potatoes. The rice itself will fill your kitchen with the most comforting smell, somewhat reminiscent of mulled wine (and yes, you can use ginger in that, too).
Moroccan Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew
If I had to pick just one country to travel to solely for the food, I think I would have to choose Morocco. I dream of markets where spices are piled high and mint tea is served on the regular. I am also a sucker for anything stew-like, and this hearty bowl has all of the Moroccan smells and flavors to make me swoon—ginger, cumin, saffron, cinnamon, and a little kick from some harissa paste. How could you go wrong?
More: Love Moroccon food? Here are Paula Wolfert's 10 Genius tips for preparing it.
To make it, sauté diced onion, garlic, and ginger in coconut oil until the onions are tender. Add a touch of stock or water and add in sliced carrots, cubed pumpkin, cooked chickpeas, and some spices like saffron, cumin, and paprika. Finally, add some tomatoes and stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add in currants, apricots, and harissa. Allow the stew to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Serve it over rice or dive straight into the spicy, gingery goodness.
Roasted Parsnip, Carrot, and Apple Soup with Gingery Toasted Pepitas
This cozy soup gets a double hit of ginger. Fresh ginger adds a real punch of flavor to a simple and seasonal root vegetable soup, plus the addition of gingery toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top help bring out the root's flavor. To make the soup, roast chopped parnsips, carrots, and apples with olive oil, grated ginger, and spices like nutmeg and cumin until tender. Purée the roasted vegetables and add in some stock until you reach the desired consistency. Warm in a pot, then top with shelled pumpkin seeds (roasted with olive oil, ground ginger, and salt).
Triple Ginger-Tahini Cookies
I am a cookie girl at heart, a true believer that a good cookie and a warm cup of tea will turn even the worst day around. Ginger and sesame is one of my favorite flavor combinations—and these cookies are ultra addictive thanks to the ginger added three ways: a little heat from the fresh, comfort from the ground, and sweetness from the candied. It's a great little treat to follow any of these savory meals.
To make them, mix tahini, molasses, brown rice syrup, fresh ginger, salt, and coconut oil in a bowl until well combined. Add in some ground ginger, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and crystalized ginger and stir everything together. The dough should be soft and wet but not sticky. If it’s completely un-workable, add another tablespoon or 2 of flour. Roll the dough into balls, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle each with a little turbinado sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350° F, until just set. Garnish with a little extra crystallized ginger before serving.
Coconut Quinoa and Warm Broccoli Bowl with Ginger-Lemongrass Dressing
I crave fresh and zesty salads with lots of color, green especially, and this bowl is just that. I would almost refer to this as a lazy man's curry, as it has all the flavor punch of a good bowl of curry, but comes together with minimal effort. The dressing is loaded with strong ginger, nicely rounded out by the creamy coconut and fresh lemongrass. This bowl can be made in no time for a quick and easy weeknight meal, but it can also be served to hungry guests at your next dinner party. Cheers to ginger!
Serves 2 to 4
For the quinoa and broccoli bowl:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 pinch sea salt
1/2 head broccoli florets
1/2 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup large coconut flakes, toasted
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
For the dressing:
1 stalk lemongrass
One 2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup grapeseed or olive oil
Photos by Jodi Kay