Contrary to popular belief, two are not always better than one. A duo of dueling squirrels making hell on your window sill? nope Two literal goblins haunting your basement? Thank you, we are satisfied with just the one.
But plenty of other things are just better in pairs, including shoes, lovebirds, and recipes that have the magical ability to become two related but wildly different dinners. As people in the beauty industry say about eyebrows: They’re sisters, not twins.
That’s our concept for this quartet (or octet, really) of Do-It-Yourself dinners that aren’t exactly meal prep, but happen to accomplish the same goal. You start with a double batch of a base sauce; Use half for one dish and turn the rest into a radically different meal the next night. Take the umami-rich miso and butternut squash soup from Rachel Gurjar, food editor at Epi, for example. It’s easy enough to prep for follow-up work on a weekday or lazy weekend day — just cook diced butternut squash with shallots, garlic, and ginger, along with some sweet white miso and a dash of maple syrup, and blend until bright orange, silky smooth smooth soup.
If you double the amount, you’ll have plenty to eat the next day. (You don’t really need to tell us how to make this part.) But this soup also turns into a sauce you can poach cod fillets in. The fish flakes beautifully in the bowl and its subtle flavor pairs beautifully with the salty-sweet soup. Don’t forget the chili crisp.
If you like this trick, we have a few others for you. Kendra Vaculin, food editor at Epi, addresses her favorite combination of green olives and roasted peppers in a jar, blending in a thick, rich tomato sauce that’s equal parts sweet, smoky, and salty. It’s exactly what you want with pasta — specially baked pasta smothered in melty mozzarella, because wintertime calls for ribbed fare.
Alternatively, you can use the same sauce recipe for an easy AF stew with shrimp and rice. It takes a slightly different approach to the baked noodles with the addition of cumin and turmeric, which add an extra dimension of spice to the dish that pairs well with sweet, fresh-tasting shrimp.
Don’t eat meat? Vegan friends (and friends of vegans), we don’t leave you out. Epi contributor Jocelyn Ramirez begins her take on the two-way sauce technique with a strong chili sauce that calls for two flavors of dried chilies: fruity, spicy guajillos and roasted, sweet anchos or pasillas. This forms the basis of a platter of enchiladas filled with mashed potatoes, flavored with roasted garlic, umami-rich nutritional yeast, and mushroom powder for an extra savory bite.
The next evening, the same smoky-sweet chilli sauce becomes the basis of a vegan menu. Since Menudo’s traditional tripe isn’t exactly plant-based, Ramirez reaches for dried, ruffled snow mushrooms, which are pleasantly chewy when plumped and soak up the sauce well along with the cornmeal.
want another one we have you Rachel Gurjar’s paneer bhurji-inspired sauce is the easiest of them all. First, fry a few slices of paneer in hot oil until brown and crispy on the outside. Remove from the pan and add a handful of flavors and warm spices — onion, garlic, jalapeño, ginger, cumin, mustard, coriander, cayenne, turmeric — and a can of tomatoes before returning the crumbled paneer to the sauce . The resulting chunky sauce makes an excellent filling for roasted peppers, especially when they take on a hint of char in the heat of the oven.
But for an excellent on-the-go snack, spoon a thick layer of the sauce onto some bread – crusty country bread or plain white bread or whatever you have. Top with shredded cheddar or mozzarella, sliced onions and cilantro and then pan fry this big boy in butter until golden and crispy all over. Dip the sandwich in ketchup between bites to enhance it even further.
With these basic recipes in your back pocket, you’ll have a week’s dinner situation in order. And sure, eight four-sauce dinners might look a lot like this too much of Food – but remember, you also have to feed all those goblin mouths in the basement.