Caution ahead: There’s a lot of chopping on this list, so let’s talk about what can get chopped away first. And yes, it is easy to do a little extra when you’re already chopping at mealtime now, anyway. If not, set aside a little time over the weekend or on a weeknight after dinner.
Chop away, it’s good therapy. Trust me.
- Chop and freeze fresh such as parsley, basil, cilantro and mint so that they’ll be easily accessible when cooking. This is great for making pizza, adding to soups and stews and even to marinades for grilling. Examples on how to do it are here and here.
- Chop garlic now and freeze it. Chop a lot of garlic. You know you’re going to use it up all throughout the month since it’s on and in almost everything delicious, and much more than you might realize. Oh, and you could also roast it first, then freeze it but chopped raw garlic usually freezes better than the roasted version. It does, however, stay nicely in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
- Chop fresh fruit for all those naturally-flavored yogurts and smoothies you should be making at Suhoor time.
- Chop and roast your most-consumed veggies then freeze the for a quick pizza or pasta topping for a weeknight Iftar meal.
- Chop and freeze fresh veggies that may want to use in stir-fry dishes or as a base for rice dishes and summer soups such as garlic, ginger, onion, tomatoes, carrots and celery. You can even mix them together in a baggie for certain types of dishes, label and freeze:
- For soups, make the mirepoix and freeze: diced onions, carrots and celery
- For rice bases, such as biryani, mince these and freeze: ginger and garlic, yellow onion
- For stir-fry dishes, julienne these and freeze: red and green bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, kale, Swiss chard
It’s never to early to preserve these things…
- Dry certain herbs that don’t freeze so well herbs in a cool, dark place. This means you won’t be running to the store or further than the spice rack to flavor your meals when there’s 22 minutes left to sunset time.
- Dry citrus peels. They’re great to make teas, add to stews, marinades and even to salads and salad dressings for a little more zing!
- Preserve tomato sauce and tomato paste. You know, for the million and one times you’ll be making delicious one-pot rice dishes, soups and stews for Iftar parties of no less than 35 people.
Organize your life or it will organize you…
- Make sure you have all the herbs and spices on hand that you normally use in cooking so that you’re a little more sure to end up happy with your meals. There’s nothing worse than being so hungry after a long fast or rushed during suhoor and the food you make or serve just doesn’t end up satisfying as you had hoped. Here are some fun globally-inspired spice labels we thought up with Sakina Design and they’re free to download, so…no excuses.
- Make your Suhoor AND Iftar menus now. Yes, like in the next few hours. Or at least get started. it’s actually fun to start thinking about all the new and traditional things you can make and once you’re organized you will feel so good. I can promise that much. Here’s how I do it.
- See what else is missing or low in your pantry and buy the items in bulk that you cook with the most: rice, beans, couscous. Seriously, buy couscous in bulk. It’s quicker than rice (some cook in less than 5-10 minutes) and light enough to be wonderful for a Summer Iftar meal. Here’s one good couscous recipe for suhoor.
Anything else you’d like to add?