Today’s recipe is by a dear, dear friend of ours: Melissa of The Fauxmartha, from her new book The Minimalist Kitchen! You know those people you hit it off with, within minutes? That’s Melissa. She’s kind, hilarious, and an incredibly talented designer and cook. She also happens to live in Minneapolis, which is where I’m from originally. Every time we visit home, we visit Melissa. She’s designed a picture-perfect home there (The Fauxhouse), and I feel just as at home in her home as my own.
Melissa is a minimalist at heart, which rings true with Alex and me. In fact, it’s what drew us to the kitchen at first! In our first tentative steps at cooking, we were terrified of the involvement. It was a minimalist mindset that convinced us that we could learn to cook, without lots of fancy gadgets and spices and know-how.
So really, what is minimalism? Here’s what Melissa has to say:
“Minimalism is my natural tendency, but it’s something I’ve fought my whole life. It’s not popular to want less when the American dream is to have more. A minimalist lifestyle is marked by living with less. I like to think of it as living efficiently, keeping only the essentials. In a lot of ways, it’s like yoga–a practice. It’s an ongoing, active practice that manifests itself differently over time. In short, minimalism is the practical application of the idea that less is more.”
What then, is a minimalist kitchen? Melissa says to think of it as a capsule wardrobe. Once you pare down, you realize all the things you can make. You pare down so you can create more. The 100 recipes in her book vary from 3 to 20 ingredients and use the same handful of tools and ingredients, but offer a wide range of flavor. A well-stocked pantry, pared-down tools, efficient techniques and maintenance grocery shopping all lead to the minimalist kitchen.
Her book is beautifully written, with the down-to-earth Melissa charm that we love. In the introduction, Melissa provides an in-depth, practical outline of how she runs a minimalist kitchen. The remainder of the book is how to implement those minimalist principles through 100 colorful and delicious recipes. A few that caught our eye: Ancho-ladas (enchiladas with an ancho chile sauce), Chilaquiles, and Quick Vodka Sauce pasta. While book is not vegetarian but has many recipes that are, or can be modified — like this quinoa vegetarian bibimbap!
I’ve counted bibimbap in my favorite foods of all time since some friends took us to a fantastic Korean restaurant here in town years ago. Bibimbap is a Korean rice bowl full of pickled vegetables, savory sauce, and a runny egg, all stirred together into delicious savory goodness. My first vegetarian bibimbap was dolsot bibimbap, which is bibimbap prepared in a hot stone bowl. The bowl makes a crispy layer of rice at the bottom, which is just heavenly–a must-try if you ever see it on a menu!
Making bibimbap at home to rival bibimbap at a restaurant is difficult, so this version works for the minimalist kitchen. It’s an interpretation of the original flavors, using quinoa instead of rice. The original recipe uses beef, but we’ve omitted it here and opted for vegetarian bibimbap, adding a bit of additional quinoa to keep it filling. Gochujang sauce happened to be onhand in our refrigerator, so we used that as well since it’s typically used in bibimbap sauce. Gochujang sauce is an incredible Korean condiment and we love keeping some on hand for dolloping on rice bowls.
The Minimalist Kitchen is not just a book of recipes: it’s a compelling ode to a minimalist lifestyle. Our warmest congratulations to Melissa on this masterpiece!
Buy the Book!
The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman
Listen to Melissa on the A Couple Cooks Podcast! Episode 9, Getting Minimalist in the Kitchen
This recipe is…
Vegetarian bibimbap quinoa bowls are vegetarian and gluten-free.
This zesty Korean-inspired grain bowl features quinoa instead of the traditional rice. Vegetarian bibimbap is a satisfying meatless dinner recipe perfect for Meatless Mondays!
For the quick pickles
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 cup mixture shredded carrots and radishes
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (or chili garlic sauce)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the quinoa
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the green beans
- 8 ounces haricots verts (French green beans)
- Kosher salt for salting water
For the eggs
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 4 large eggs
For the garnish
- 1 jalapeno, sliced
- 2 green onions, sliced
Make the quick-pickled radishes and carrots: Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. In a pint-sized Ball jar with measurements or a glass bowl, add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Add the boiling water to the vinegar mixture. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Submerge the carrots and radishes in the pickling solution and let sit for at least 30 minutes. This can be done up to 3 weeks in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: Stir together all of the sauce ingredients in a small ramekin. Set aside. This can be made a day or two in advance.
Make the quinoa: Add all the quinoa ingredients to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Make the beans: Fill a medium saucepan two-thirds full with water; bring to a boil. Add the beans; liberally salt the water. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
Cook the eggs: Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet on medium-low. Once warm, add the oil. Crack the eggs into separate corners, using a silicon spatula to pull in the whites. If the whites begin to bubble, turn the heat down further or pull the pan off the heat for a second. Cook for 1 minute, and then spoon the oil in the pan over the whites until cooked through. Carefully remove the eggs from the pan. Set aside.
Assemble the bowls: Divide the quinoa, beans and eggs among 4 bowls. Spoon the pickled vegetables over each including a generous spoonful of the vinegar mixture. Drizzle with the sauce and garnish with jalapeno and green onions, if desired.
Reprinted with permission from The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman