It finally happened: I got sick. After over a month of visitors and traveling, I suppose it was inevitable. Although I would have preferred to not be sick, the timing worked out relatively well. We have officially entered the schizophrenia season in Colorado, where the weather hovers in the 55-75 degree range, with sunny skies, punctuated the occasional snowstorm. My sick day coincided with a well-timed gray, snowy day; I hunkered down, clad in sweat pants and wool socks, and had a long, leisurely day on the coach watching the entire second season of HBO’s “Girls.” After the first few episodes and some dozing, I became hungry. So I took some Advil and bundled up, in order to venture to Trader Joe’s for some easy to prepare, yet tasty, sick day foods.
My first sick day food endeavor supplied a late lunch and plenty of leftovers. I was still feeling achy and chilled at this point, so I made the lowest maintenance soup I could imagine; I’m ever so eloquently dubbing it “Dump and Stew Tortellini Soup.” It requires absolutely no chopping, but rather, it is a series of store-bought ingredients that need only to be opened, and dumped into a soup pot. I started with 6 cups organic, reduced sodium chicken stock, a small can of diced tomatoes, 2 bay leaves, a quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 6 whole garlic cloves (lightly smashed in order to remove the peel). I allowed all of this to simmer over medium heat for about 45 minutes, and then I added a package of cheese tortellini from the refrigerator case, and allowed them to simmer for about 8 minutes, per package directions. I then ladled the soup over a few handfuls of raw baby spinach, and allowed the heat of the soup to wilt the greens. You could add it directly to the soup pot, but I prefer to add it to each individual serving so it doesn’t get overcooked. I then added a sprinkle of Parmesan and a dollop of store bought pesto. It couldn’t have been easier, and it certainly soothed my achy bones. The garlic and the cayenne are key for curative properties, and to ensure that you actually taste some something in a congested state. I recommend eating the garlic cloves; they mellow out a lot while cooking, and practically dissolve in your mouth after all of that cooking. I would also like to note that Trader Joe’s Organic Low-Sodium Chicken Stock is my new favorite, regarding this genre. At $1.99 a quart, the price is nothing to sneer at, and it actually tastes like chicken (roast chicken, to be exact), with a rich, brown color.
After about 6 more episodes of “Girls,” I was getting hungry again, and I whipped up a naan pizza in the toaster oven. Again, most ingredients were courtesy of Trader Joe’s, along with some lingering morsels I had in my refrigerator. The naan comes frozen, so while I let a piece defrost, I browned a pre-cooked garlic-herb chicken sausage link in a small sauté pan, to allow the casing to blister and the meat to heat through before slicing it into rounds. I smeared the naan with pizza sauce, augmented with a few teaspoons of sriracha, again for decongestive purposes. Then I added some Parmesan, a few sliced kalamata olives, and some toasted pine nuts. I seasoned the pizza with dried oregano, ground pepper, and garlic salt before finishing it off with chicken sausage and shredded mozzarella. I then put my gorgeous pizza in my toaster oven at about 375 for about 10 minutes, until the cheese was melted and bubbly (oven for the first 7-8 minutes, and broil for the last two). Put it directly on the rack (no pan or foil necessary), so that the bottom crisps. It was delicious, hearty, satisfying, and delightfully easy. The most challenging part of the preparation was slicing the browned up chicken sausage, which wasn’t exactly an insurmountable feat.
Posted On April 17, 2014