Just south of Unit 2 stands a big home blocked by a wood fence. If you happen to dare discover past the driveway of this humble Berkeley dwelling, one can find a gate main as much as a again home. Every week, vats of water doused with salt come to a boil on the electrical range as grocery baggage filled with dry pasta are walked via the door. This home is my dwelling. It’s also dwelling to my eight different roommates.

This expertise isn’t restricted to us, nonetheless: Recipe developer and UC Berkeley alumna Ali Slagle echoed related sentiments in an interview with The Each day Californian.

“I really feel like in school, you make plenty of pasta,” Slagle stated. The very first thing we learn to do is boil water and throw in a single fundamental ingredient.

Fairly merely, that is precisely what we do. Pasta is our default choice after we desire a home-cooked meal with minimal effort and room for error.

As school college students, we now have restricted house, restricted budgets and restricted time to truly cook dinner good meals for ourselves. Concurrently, that is the time in our lives after we understand that we really have to feed ourselves three meals a day. Though cooking is the budget-friendly choice, the thought might be scary to some college students.

Photo of Ali Slagle

Courtesy / Mark Weinberg

Slagle comes from a household of cooking lovers. Continually watching her mom cook dinner, nonetheless, couldn’t put together her for the dynamic between cooking and school. “That’s when cooking for actual and once you’re hungry grew to become a factor, not simply cooking for enjoyable,” Slagle stated. Our new discovered independence might be overwhelming, even for individuals who have expertise within the kitchen.

Many college students are also afraid to experiment with cooking as a result of failure interprets into misplaced time and an empty abdomen. Once we eat out and purchase quick meals, we expect we’re simplifying our lives. In actuality, we’re lacking out on a chance to develop important survival expertise: studying to eat wholesome meals for much less. And once you store for elements at your native farmers market, you help the atmosphere and native economic system whereas discovering the world of produce out there on your subsequent home-cooked meal. By taking the worry of cooking and changing it with easy and versatile recipes, we are able to begin to create a eating regimen for ourselves that extends past pasta and takeout.

Slagle encourages college students to develop on what they already know easy methods to do within the kitchen. “If you happen to can boil pasta, you possibly can boil greens or grains,” she stated.

Whereas Slagle was a scholar at UC Berkeley, she served as a TA for meals author and adjunct professor Michael Pollan and interned at Ten Pace Press, a serious cookbook writer. By way of these experiences, she was capable of develop an understanding of recipes and seasonality of produce that in the end led her to grow to be a contributor at Food52, the net hub for foodies, and The New York Instances. Slagle has poured that data into her first cookbook, “I Dream of Dinner.”

Based on Slagle, Berkeley is the best place to embark on a journey of cooking and understanding our meals system. House to a number of farmers markets and a mecca of meals consumers referred to as Berkeley Bowl, and blessed with the proper stability of rain and sunshine as in comparison with the East Coast, Berkeley is a house cook dinner’s paradise.

“I really feel like what I’ve discovered since dwelling in New York is Berkeley really does have produce that’s slightly bit extra fairly priced than somewhere else,” Slagle stated.

“Berkeley is the best place to embark on a journey of cooking and understanding our meals system.” — Ali Slagle

Because the leafy greens and winter squash go away the farmers markets on the finish of 1 season, new spring greens take their place. Asparagus, peas and carrots grow to be their sweetest as April and Could seem on our calendars.


A springy noodle stir fry: The bounty of spring veggies, each uncooked and charred

So, now that it’s spring, what can we do with all of those new greens within the kitchen and in a non intimidating approach? Slagle proposes her springy noodle stir fry. “If you may make pasta, you may make this stir fry,” she promised.

Photo of a pasta meal

Courtesy / Mark Weinberg


  • 2 oranges
  • ½ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon recent floor ginger
  • 2 kilos spring greens
  • 2 tablespoons impartial oil
  • 10 to 12 ounces ramen noodles
  • ½ cup frozen, shelled edamame
  • Sprinkle of sesame seeds


  1. Convey a big pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the rind from an orange, and squeeze 1 cup juice from 2 oranges into a big bowl.
  3. To the orange juice, add the rind, tahini and soy sauce. Finely grate your ginger into the bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir.
  4. Trim the stem ends from 2 kilos of spring greens (any mixture of asparagus, inexperienced beans, snap peas or snow peas). Then, thinly slice them on a diagonal ½ inch thick. Add half to the bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir to mix.
  5. Add your ramen noodles (ideally recent) and edamame to the boiling water, and cook dinner based on the package deal instructions. Drain and rinse this combination, then stir into the sauce.
  6. In the identical pot, warmth your oil over medium-high warmth. Add the remaining half of the greens. Season with salt and pepper and cook dinner, stirring simply as soon as, till the greens are browned in spots after a couple of minutes. Add every part within the sauce bowl and cook dinner, tossing till the sauce is heat and glazy, for a few extra minutes.
  7. Bathe your dish with toasted sesame seeds, and revel in!

Professional suggestions: As an alternative of ramen noodles, you would possibly like to make use of soba, dried or recent udon or lo mein. Additionally, if you’d like, you possibly can add brown tofu, floor rooster or pork earlier than including the greens and mixing all of it in with the sauce.

“I actually do need my recipes to type of meet folks the place they’re no matter their circumstances.” – Ali Slagle

When cooking this recipe for myself, I opted to buy my elements from Berkeley Bowl. In a small fridge tucked away with the majority bins, Berkeley Bowl sells recent soba, udon and ramen noodles, which all pair completely with this recipe. I used to be in a position to make use of the random spring greens I had readily available to make this recipe with as a lot ease as attainable: Slagle’s recipes are designed to be adaptable.

“I actually do need my recipes to type of meet folks the place they’re no matter their circumstances,” Slagle stated.


Tacky vegetable tart

Though the springtime does name for gentle and refreshing flavors, we should want crispy and tacky consolation to get out of our winter droop. Nothing is less complicated than defrosting some puff pastry and loading it with cheese and greens.


  • 1 (14-ounce) package deal of frozen puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • Salt and pepper, to style
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche, full-fat yogurt or ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup sharp white cheddar or crumbled goat cheese
  • A couple of sprigs recent thyme
  • 1 pound asparagus, carrots or mixture of each
  • All-purpose flour (for dusting)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Lemon (optionally available)


  1. Take your puff pastry out of the freezer, and permit it to defrost till it’s malleable however nonetheless chilly. Place it in your fridge till it is able to use.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425 levels Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Put together your greens, whether or not you’re utilizing carrots, asparagus or each. Both scrub the surface of the carrots or peel them, then lower them lengthwise to create slivers about ¼ of an inch thick. Trim off the stiff bottoms of the asparagus, normally about an inch, and lower them in half lengthwise.
  4. In a small bowl, combine creme fraiche, full-fat yogurt or ricotta with the egg and garlic. Season this with salt and pepper. If you happen to select to make use of sharp cheddar, shred ½ cup of it right into a small bowl. If you happen to use goat cheese, crumble about ½ cup of it right into a small bowl. Take away a few sprigs of recent thyme from the stem, and place it on the aspect.
  5. Now that your elements have been ready, take the defrosted puff pastry out of the fridge. Evenly mud the dough with flour, and roll it out right into a rectangle about ¼ inches thick. Place it on ready baking sheet. With a pointy knife, rating the pastry, making a border that’s about ½ inches thick. Then, with a fork or knife, prick a number of small holes throughout the border of the dough. It will stop the pastry from puffing up below your toppings.
  6. Unfold the creme fraiche combination throughout the border. Place your greens in a single layer on prime of the creme fraiche, and sprinkle them with the thyme, your cheese of alternative, salt and pepper. Lastly, drizzle the tart with olive oil.
  7. Bake the tart for about half-hour or till the greens are cooked via. Permit the pastry to barely cool, then transfer the tart to a wire rack to complete cooling fully. Squeeze slightly lemon juice excessive, and serve.


By studying to cook dinner for ourselves, we grow to be lively members in our meals system. We’ve the ability to create motion towards sustainability after we select to cook dinner a fast meal as an alternative of shopping for a quick one. This isn’t to say we have to do away with quick meals altogether. We are able to, a minimum of, maintain some autonomy in our personal palms.

We’re college students consistently studying, trying to construct a social life and fascinated about our future. Amid the chaos and tedium of all of it, we should take a beat and learn to deal with and maintain ourselves infrequently.

“I believe, each time you go to the shop, selecting up one factor that’s fascinating to you or thrilling to you is type of like a straightforward option to propel you into the kitchen,” Slagle steered. “Simply determining what’s enjoyable and never scary to cook dinner after which type of like exploring that.”

So make one thing extra than simply pasta: Deal with your self.


Springy noodle stir-fry was offered to us by Ali Slagle. The recipe is reprinted from Slagle’s latest cookbook “I Dream of Dinner.”

Contact Isabel Bollinger at [email protected].

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