When I moved away from home to go to college, I realized that the days of dinner magically appearing on the kitchen table were over. Yep, it was time to “barbecue or mildew,” as my dad used to say. Thankfully, both my parents and grandparents equipped me with a cache of culinary skills that allowed me to feed myself and throw some belly-filling barbecues, brunches, and dinner parties. What started out as small, infrequent gatherings with a few university friends turned into recurring soirées with students from all over the city. Now I wasn’t just making meals; I was making lots of friends.
These two menus give you a chance to practice for all those feasts you’ll be pulling together once you get your own place. No chips, dips, and delivered pizzas; you’ll be whipping up dishes that will have your friends buying cookbooks and watching the Food Network to keep up. Just don’t forget to make every meal as organic as possible. Why? Because knowing that the food you’re eating has been grown without chemicals simply makes it taste better than food that has been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. That sustainably produced food is also good for your health, benefits the local economy, and protects the Earth makes it that much more delicious.
Menu: Farm-Fresh Fiesta
Swiss Chard and Spicy Guacamole Quesadillas
Serves 4 / Cheese-free, but stuffed with veggies and creamy guac. Prep tips: Bright orange habanero peppers rate superhigh on the heat scale, so use caution when handling; or use a milder jalapeño instead. “Chiffonade” means cut into ribbons; layer chard leaves, roll up lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thin strips. View Recipe…
Two-Cabbage Coleslaw with Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette
Serves 6 / After I found out that cabbage has more vitamin C than oranges, I started eating it at least once per week. Cabbage also contains essential minerals, including iodine, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, so this tasty slaw really packs a nutritional punch. View Recipe…
Mexican Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4 / Ingredient tips: In my experience, Mori Nu silken firm tofu works best for this recipe. You’ll find unsweetened, antioxidant-rich cacao nibs in bulk bins and baking aisles; they add a nice crunch. Serving tip: You might want to top this with fresh raspberries. View Recipe…
Menu: Mini-Pizza Party for 6
Roasted Squash and Sage Pita Pizzas
Serves 6 / Featuring a great combination of flavors and the easiest pizza “crust” of all time. Prep tip: Because winter squash is rock hard, it can be tricky to cut; if you’re skittish about it, many grocers will do it for you. View Recipe
Online Exclusive! Citrus-Broccoli Salad
Serves 6 / If you usually don’t care for broccoli, this recipe might just change your mind. It’s best served the same day; overnight, the broccoli loses its vibrant green. View Recipe
Balsamic Peaches with Crème Fraîche
Serves 6 / A perfect way to enjoy late-summer peaches. View Recipe
Bryant Terry is a food-justice activist and coauthor of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (Tarcher/Penguin, 2006).