If we could sit down at Eden Grinshpan’s dinner table every night, we would. While her credentials as host of Top Chef Canada and cofounder and executive chef of DEZ—a fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant in Lower Manhattan where the build-your-own bowls are as good as the design—would have you believe that every meal at her house is an extravagant event, her at-home cooking routine is decidedly down-to-earth.
In Grinshpan’s Brooklyn kitchen, two things are constant: heritage and versatile produce. “I cook a lot at home and I mostly cook Middle Eastern food,” she says. Root vegetables, legumes, and leafy herbs are in her heavy rotation, and savory dips are always nearby. “We always have hummus and baba ganoush on hand.”
Ahead, Grinshpan gives us a sneak peek inside her cart, shares the fundamentals of shopping on a budget, and explains how to make the most out of everyday ingredients.
If you only had $30 to spend on food for a dinner party, what would you grab?
When I’m at home, I cook very vegetarian-friendly and I find that that’s a great way to save money and it’s also just good for you in general. I’d buy a bunch of root vegetables that I can just roast up and serve with a beautiful salsa verde or something bright with beautiful herbs to lighten it up. All those legumes are super hearty. Every time I eat them, I never feel like I’m missing any animal protein. If you want to add more protein to your diet, tahini isn’t too expensive. I love putting tahini sauce on all my roasted vegetables or as a side to accompany anything I’m making.
What ingredients do you find yourself repurposing to create multiple dishes?
These are a big staple in my house. I always have them on hand. Obviously, you can do omelets and fried eggs or use them as a binder for other dishes. I’m half Israeli and we eat eggs for dinner, so I’ll make shakshuka any time of the day.
I feel like lentils are a great ingredient to play around with. They’re delicious in salads. They’re delicious in soups. If you combine them with rice, they become a filling protein, so I always make sure to have them on hand. Plus, they store super well and they’re not expensive.
I love the San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes. If fresh tomatoes aren’t in season, I always have canned tomatoes in my home. I’ll make sauces. I’ll make soups. I’ll make braises. You can make anything. I’m always restocking.
My daughter loves them. My husband loves them. I’ll eat them whole. I’ll cut them and roast them and caramelize them as is. I use them in curry. They’re such crowd-pleasers and full of starch and great fiber and vitamins. I love using any root vegetables, including regular potatoes, russet potatoes, baby potatoes, radish, carrot, celeriac, beets, and turnips.
What does a quick, budget-friendly grocery store run look like for you?
I always head right to the produce first. So much of the food that I like to make is vegetable-heavy, and it makes more sense cost-wise. I pick up root vegetables, cucumbers, potatoes, fennel, bell peppers, and tomatoes, for instance. I love purchasing butternut squash—any vegetable that can make a lot. I’m a huge fan of cooking grains (putting them in soups to give them more body or making a salad), so I’ll pick up freekeh, barley, bulgur, and Kamut.
What are the tools every starter chef needs in their kitchen?
You have to be a little more careful with these because they’re extremely sharp, but they elevate your food. It changes your entire dining experience. I can make a beautiful fennel salad because I can shave it fine enough to enjoy it the way I should. Anyone who’s new in the kitchen should definitely use a guard.
A good blender
I have a Vitamix, which is on the expensive side, but investing in a really powerful blender is, for me, really important for sauces, dips, purees, and soups. If you have an amazing blender, there are so many possibilities for what you can do in the kitchen.
Cast-iron Dutch oven
They conduct and hold heat so well. You can do braises and soups. It’s a good investment.
Are there any shared meals that your daughter, Ayv, loves as much as you?
Right now, we’re going through a kind of funny (and tough) time with our daughter. I used to be able to give her anything—roasted vegetables, tahini, hummus, fish—and now she’s living off of carbs. Everything that I make, I always offer to her. If she eats it, amazing. If she doesn’t, then I’ll do an amazing slice of bread with tons of seeds in it and cream cheese on top or garbanzo bean pasta to sneak in some fiber and protein.
What does a lazy Sunday brunch at home look like for you?
That’s easy! It’s definitely shakshuka for my husband and I. It’s basically just eggs poached in a tomato pepper sauce. It’s really bright. There are spices in there. It stews, and the peppers get nice and sweet, and you just quickly poach eggs in the sauce and cover it with lots of tahini. We serve it with fresh sourdough bread from our bakery across the street, a side salad, and a couple of dips.
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