Friday Link Love
Deborah Madison's Shaved Fennel Salad with Celery and Egg

Cooking for the Whole30

Whole30 turkish eggplant beef stew

It's been a week since I started the Whole30. Seven whole days! And so far, what irritates me the most is figuring out breakfast. I'm usually a toast and cereal breakfaster, sometimes dabbling in oatmeal or pancakes. But now, all I eat are eggs. Eggs, eggs and more eggs. It's okay - I buy these totally luscious eggs from a little lady at the market and they have incredible orange yolks and taste sweet and fresh, like they were laid this morning. But still. 23 days from now, I know I am going to be deeply thrilled to eat anything other than an egg for breakfast again.

Other things I have discovered:

1. Whole30 is getting me to eat way more fruit. I hadn't realized how little fruit I'd been eating lately until now.

2. I'm eating far more "mindfully". There are no more random snacks or treats just because I'm feeling bored or tired. I have to think a little more about the preparation of my meals and when I sit down to eat, that's all there is. No dessert or pre-dinner snacking. It's sort of liberating.

3. I don't really miss the things I thought I'd miss (bread, pasta, bread and bread). In fact, it's way easier to do the Whole30 than I thought it would be. My cooking isn't really any different than before, it's just that I don't rely on my usual starches in addition to everything else to fill me up.

What I really do miss: my milky morning (and sometimes afternoon) Earl Grey. Oof, I miss it so much.

As for how I feel? I have a weird low-grade headache and feel sort of blurry in the afternoons, if you know what I mean. I've heard this passes eventually. Otherwise, I feel the same as always.

Now, here are a few things I made over the past week that were delicious and very easy and that you should eat whether or not you're on some ridiculous "nutritional reset". (Just add rice!)

First, a sort of deconstructed Turkish eggplant-ground beef soupy stewy business (I'm a recipe-naming wizard, aren't I?):

Okay, you know how cooking eggplant is always a tricky business? More often than not, you end up with super-oily eggplant, which is no fun in my book. Here's the best way I know to cook eggplant: in the oven. Take four small eggplants, wash and trim them. Then cut them into bite-sized pieces. Put the eggplant pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with flaky salt. Make sure the eggplant pieces are all in one layer. Put in 200 C (392 F) degree oven for about 20 minutes, then shake a bit and cook for 5 or 10 more minutes, until the eggplant is browned and fragrant. Now you can stir that delicious, soft and silky eggplant into tomato sauce (for a lighter pasta alla Norma, for example) or you can put it aside, while you make my Turkish-inspired ground beef soupy stew sauce.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan, then add a small minced onion and one small sliced yellow bell pepper. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, then add a pound of ground meat (beef or lamb). Cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink. Add two cloves of peeled garlic, a good pinch of salt, 3/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/8 teaspoon cumin. Stir well to incorporate and cook for a few minutes. Then add a 14-ounce can of chopped tomatoes. Pour water into the can to fill it a quarter of the way up and then add that water to the pan as well. Stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil and let simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adjust with a bit of water for a looser sauce, then serve over the roasted eggplant.

Whole30 stewed cod

Next, Stewed Cod in Spicy Tomato Sauce (that's better, isn't it?).

Pour a little olive oil in a sauté pan. Add two cloves of peeled garlic and one small minced onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent and fragrant. Add 1 peeled, diced carrot and cook for a few more minutes. Add one crumbled dried chile and stir. Add one 14-ounce can of chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt and stir well. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, until thick and stewy. In the meantime, pit and chop about 6 or 7 Kalamata olives. Stir the olives into the sauce. Slip two or three pieces of cod fillet or any other firm, white fish into the pan and cover with some spoonfuls of sauce. Let simmer until the fish is just cooked through and flaky, but still moist and tender, about 8 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet. Top with chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve immediately.

Whole30 roasted celery root with garlic-herb rub

This is barely even a recipe, but it's delicious, so here you go. Let's call it Herb-Roasted Celery Root:

Take one celery root, peel and cube it. Put the cubes on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a two or three tablespoons of this herb rub. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil and toss well until the herbs and oil are well-distributed. Put the baking sheet in a 200 C (390 F) degree oven for 20 minutes, toss briefly and cook for another 10 minutes, until the celery root is browned and fragrant.

Whole30 roasted cauliflower salad

And finally, Roasted Cauliflower Salad (I'm getting the hang of it, aren't I!):

Separate a head of cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil and some flaky salt. Roast in a 200 C (390 F) degree oven for 15 minutes, then add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes to the sheet and roast for another 15 minutes, until browned and tender. Scrape the roasted cauliflower and tomatoes into a serving bowl. Add some lemon zest and chopped flat-leaf parsley to the bowl. Make a vinaigrette out of olive oil, sherry vinegar and a touch of mustard. Drizzle over the vegetables and toss well. Serve hot or room temperature.