Good Enough to Read: Cooking in the Moment

Veteran food writer Irene Sax shares healthy and delicious recipes from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing.
Book jacketGood Enough to Read

You should see my copy of Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment. When I get a new cookbook, I use yellow sticky notes to mark recipes I want to try, and my copy of Reusing’s book sports a whole garden of fluttering little yellow tabs. Zucchini noodles with ricotta. Warm mushroom salad with shallots and sherry vinegar. Salted cucumbers dressed with green chilis, garlic and lime, and whole onions roasted like baked potatoes until they turn black and split open.

Reusing is the award-winning chef of Lantern, a pan-Asian restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but Cooking in the Moment is in no way a chef’s book — nor, except for an occasional dash of fish sauce and mirin, is it particularly Asian. The subtitle is “A Year of Seasonal Recipes,” and it’s that idea — seasonality — that gives the book structure. It’s what leads Reusing to have us build a shopping list around what’s best in the market. If asparagus is ripe, she says, lay the tender stalks on a charcoal grill. When fresh corn is in later in the summer, eat it on the cob until you’ve had your fill and then make corn fritters and grilled Mexican corn. In the fall, sauté sliced apples and onions in bacon fat. And for Mother’s Day, do a platter of baby carrots and zucchini, small fennel and hearts of lettuce with a garlicky dipping sauce.

But she is a restaurant chef and also a working mother. She knows the value of dishes that can be tossed together in a hurry, of simple one-pot meals, and of making a big batch of something that you'll have on hand to dig into through the week. And while the book is driven by the seasonal sequence of fruits and vegetables, it also includes recipes for summery fried chicken and autumnal cider-braised pork shoulder.

Eating this way is good for you, good for the farmer, good for the planet and just plain good. Besides all those lovely fresh greens and beans, here’s one weird recipe I can’t wait to try: The next time I light the grill or build a campfire, I’m going to make what Reusing swears is an old Girl Scout treat, bacon and eggs cooked over a fire in a brown paper bag.

No-apologies chard with chiles
Dark greens like chard and kale are in markets from late summer to late winter, making this a healthy and delicious dish for a full half-year.

Braised Chard with Fresh Hot Chiles

Serves 4
3 PointsPlus® values per serving
Adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 semi-hot fresh red chile, such as Fresno, or more to taste
  • 2 big bunches of chard (about 25 stems total), stemmed, leaves torn into big pieces and stems thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add the oil and then garlic and chili.
  2. Stirring frequently, cook until chili has softened and garlic is golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chard stems, tomato, and then chard leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss to coat with oil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, tossing frequently with tongs, for 3 to 4 minutes, until chard is tender. Using tongs, transfer chard to a warm shallow bowl, letting juice and most of tomatoes and pepper fall back into pan. Reduce liquid in pan for 2 minutes, or until it is slightly syrupy (about 1/3 cup). Pour sauce over chard and serve.

Easily improved carrot soup
This is pretty healthy as it is, but you can make it even more so by substituting a mild-tasting olive oil for the butter and cutting the amount of fat to 2 tablespoons, plenty to use for sweating the onions and garlic. Reusing makes her own curry powder, but you can use a commercial brand.

Carrot Soup with Toasted Curry and Pistachios

Serves 6 to 8**
4 PointsPlus values per serving**
Adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing


  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp curry powder plus more for garnish
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Thick Greek-style yogurt, for garnish**
  • 1/2 cup shelled roasted pistachios


  1. Melt butter in a heavy 4-quart pot. Add onion, garlic and half teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent.
  2. Meanwhile, peel carrots and slice them into thin rounds.
  3. Raise heat to medium, and add curry and cayenne. Stir and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add carrots, wine, and another half teaspoon of salt. Cook for 2 minutes, until wine reduces a little. Add 6 cups water and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until carrots are completely tender.
  4. Purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Add water if soup seems too thick. Adjust seasoning and serve in warm bowls. Garnish with yogurt, pistachios and a sprinkling of curry powder.

Notes from Andrea Reusing

  • I love any dish that can be made using water rather than stock. It’s a bit of useful laziness that can help establish the clean, pure flavor of the ingredient itself, whether it’s carrots or clams. One key is a slow, patient approach to cooking (or “sweating”) the onions and garlic, creating sweetness and depth.

** Notes from

    When calculating the PointsPlus values for this recipe, we:
  1. Opted for 8 servings.
  2. Used 1 Tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt for each serving (8 Tbsp total for the recipe).
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