From Our Kitchen to Yours: 3 Recipes for #SafeAtHome

Sharing a Meal in the Time of Covid-19

A flatlay image of the construction of a pot of shakshuka, with a variety of ingredients both wrapped and unwrapped scattered across a beige table cloth. Left to right starting at the top: A pale blue bowl of chickpeas; a pot of shakshuka mostly covered by a Strawberry Fields print wrap; a stainless steel bowl of prepped veggies sticking out from under a blue Petals and Pods print Z Wrap; next row from left: a portion of purple cabbage in a Bees Love These print wrap; a small bundle of fresh herbs in a small Painted Poppy wrap; loose herbs and spices on and around a cutting board; bottom most row from left: some loose peppercorns and a sprig of thyme next to a white ramekin of tomato paste partly covered by a blue Petals and Pods wrap; something unseen covered completely by a Leafy Green print wrap; a bunch of carrot sticks in a cone of Farmer's Market print wrap; some dried chili peppers on their branch; a loose bay leaf; half a butternut squash, insides visible, in a Strawberry Fields wrap.

Click here to jump to Classic Minestrone Recipe

Click here to Jump to Recipe: Lentil-Loaded Red Sauce

Click here to Jump to Recipe: Shakshuka

We’re still at home, and that means we’re probably in the kitchen. Sharing a meal with people we care about is something folks all over the world think of as perhaps the best activity to nourish body, mind, and spirit. Good food with our people is something that satisfies so many of our deepest and most important needs--really, the things that fuel us at our core. Since we won’t be able to invite you to our table for the time being, we decided “Why not send some of the love from our kitchen and our table to the world?” 

Today, we’re bringing you 3 recipes from the kitchen of one of the Z Wraps team: Julia, our social media coordinator and photographer. She says, “Hi Z Wraps Community! When I’m cooking, I don't usually follow a recipe to the letter--I’m just not that kind of gal. But I often start with a recipe and use it as a foundation, tweaking this and that along the way, substituting for whatever I don’t have, and finding ways to include things I do have that need to be eaten. Today, I’m sharing 3 recipes I use all the time, which all bring together pantry staples and leftovers you probably have on hand, remixing them in different ways. My style of cooking is very free-form, so if something doesn’t work for you due to your preferences or diet, or it’s not something you have on hand, feel free to substitute. Try things out, and taste as you go. Above all, enjoy in good health and in good company - even if you’re Skyping in to supper.”

“This post was inspired by a recent handful of Z Wrapped items in my fridge that, while I was trying to decide what to make with them, I realized were all involved in some of my favorite meals. I wish I could illustrate this post with step by step photos, but given the challenge of food shopping at the current moment, that wasn’t really an option. I’ll have to come back someday and update this post!”

What Was In The Fridge

Chilling in the fridge in a Z Wrap, I found myself with: 

  • A bunch of celery (in an XL wrap)
  • One generous hike-snack’s worth of carrots (about 3 large/4 medium-ish carrots, hiding in a medium wrap)
  • ¾ of a large onion (also in a medium wrap with some wrap to spare because it was a hefty one)
  • The last 2” of a stick of dry summer sausage (I wrapped it in the original package after opening)
  • An 8oz can of tomato paste (opened in error and re-covered with a small wrap)

As you can see, tomato will be a theme here: that can of tomato paste has gotta go and I lugged it all the way home so it’s definitely not going in the bin. Folks who like to cook might also have noticed we have the makings of a very basic mirepoix in those carrots, celery, and onion. All three of the recipes I’ll be sharing are great “user-uppers” in that they are perfect for adding the bits of this and that you surely have around. They all scale very well, flavors only improve in the fridge, and they freeze well. All three recipes are also “one-pot wonders” meaning you can use the same single large pot from start to finish. As far as quantities for each ingredient go, you don’t need to worry too much if you have a little more or a bit less- these recipes are un-fussy, forgiving, and very customizable.

Classic Minestrone

Hot soup loaded with good-for-you stuff. Season to your taste for infinite possibilities. My starting point was with this version from the amazing Cookie and Kate. Tomato-y and herby broth forms the basis for this classic soup - you can customize the rest to fit your taste and your pantry. Parmesan makes a fantastic complement: shave a few ribbons on top of your bowl, add a parm rind to the broth while cooking for extra flavor, or grate a generous amount onto some hot toasted crusty bread for a delightful and crunchy dipper.


  • ½-1 onion (medium-large), diced
  • 3+ cloves of garlic, minced or through a garlic press
  • 4-6 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil or the oil of your preference
  • 2” summer sausage, diced small (optional)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes (or 2 if you’re making a big batch)
  • 1 can of white beans (or great northern, cannellini, etc)
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans (or pinto, chickpeas, heck more white beans is fine!)
  • Small pasta of your choosing- ditalini, macaroni, stelline; you can substitute barley or farro if you prefer. If you plan to freeze the soup or are an ardent al-dente-ist, cook pasta separately and combine in your individual bowls.
  • Broth, powdered stock, or bouillon paste to make about 6 cups; use caution with a bouillon cube, as they can be very very salty; if you don’t have this, water is fine and you can adjust the seasoning to compensate
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning blend (or make your own: basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano is a good starting point), dry or fresh if you’re feeling fancy
  • 1-3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3+ baseball-sized-ish new potatoes (white, red, yellow, or purple), cut into thumb-size pieces
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato, cut into roughly 1” pieces (optional)
  • 1-2 cups chunky-chopped other fresh, seasonal vegetables of your choice: zucchini, summer squash, green beans, peas, or even broccoli or butternut all work!
  • Few handfuls of baby kale, spinach, or ripped-up regular kale (curly, russian, or dinosaur/lacinato, any kind)
  • Parmesan cheese (Romano or pecorino also work fine; if you have a parm rind you are beyond #blessed and should totally add it to this broth, or freeze it with the idea in mind!)

How to Make: 

  1. Prep your vegetables, rinse and drain your beans, and put about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Sizzle the bits of summer sausage (if using) until they start to render some of their fat and are fragrant. 
  2. Add onion, celery, and carrot and stir to coat with oil. Sauté 2-3 minutes until the pot is hot, then add the tomato paste. Mix well to coat, continue cooking about 5-7 more minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice, water, broth, and garlic. Stir well and simmer about 5-10 minutes; any last minute vegetable prep starts now! 
    1. If you are doing pasta on the side, start water boiling now if you haven’t already. 
    2. If you will be using barley or farro instead of pasta, be sure to check the cooking times for your grain and the amount of liquid they typically require; adjust liquid amounts and add your grain here to prevent mushy veggies. For grains, cover most of the way while simmering to keep liquid levels sufficient, and be sure to stir occasionally to keep grains from burning to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Assuming your soup goes the pasta route: Add the veggies, potatoes, beans, spices, and salt + pepper to taste. Simmer about 15 minutes, partly covered, or until veggies and potatoes have just about reached your preferred amount of doneness. 
    1. If you used a grain instead, add veggies and check that the remaining liquid is still sufficient about 10 minutes before your grain is supposed to be done. 
    2. Add any additional liquid that may be needed here as well, for grains or to keep all veggies covered.
  5. If using pasta and not preparing separately, check how many minutes it needs to cook and add it towards the end of the veggies for however long it requires.
  6. Add the greens just as you take the soup off the heat and allow them to just wilt in the hot broth.
  7. Serve soup with crusty bread, some extra olive oil, shaved parmesan, lemon wedge, or any other extras that sound good - leftover croutons perhaps, or a crusty parmesan toast with anchovy if you feel like living large?
Half of a purple cabbage, inside portion visible, resting inside a mostly-open Strawberry Fields print Z Wrap

Lentil-Loaded Red Sauce 

A fairly typical pasta sauce that’s been bulked up with several hearty plant-based proteins. Craveable classic pasta and red sauce, but make it a nutritious, stay-full meal. Tasty with any kind of fresh or dry pasta, ravioli, or even rice; can work great for lasagna too, though you may want to make it a little thinner depending on how you make lasagna. Sometimes we just eat it from a bowl! If you want to add meat, I prefer to brown it in a separate pan that I can get nice and hot, such as cast iron. I do this even with frozen, pre-cooked meatballs: browning it first adds a lot of flavor to the meat, and improves the appearance and texture. Plus, anytime you create browned bits of protein and fat in the bottom of a pan like that, if you deglaze the hot pan with a small bit of water or balsamic, you get to scrape all that delicious fond into your sauce for a yummy flavor boost. I’ve noted below when to add meat if you choose, but please note that these instructions assume you’ve cooked it/browned it first. This recipe didn’t start from an existing plan, it just evolved over time in our almost-mostly-vegetarian kitchen.


  • ½-1 onion (medium-large), diced
  • 3+ cloves of garlic, minced or through a garlic press
  • 3-4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil or the oil of your preference
  • 2” summer sausage, diced small (optional)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 large can of crushed or diced tomatoes (or both if you making a big batch)
  • 1-2 cups of green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup of red lentils, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, small or large depending on how loaded you want the sauce
  • Broth, powdered stock, or bouillon paste to make about 10-12 cups; use caution with a bouillon cube, as they can be very very salty; if you don’t have this, water is fine and you can adjust the seasoning to compensate
  • Italian seasoning blend (or make your own: basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano is a good starting point), dry or fresh if you’re feeling fancy
  • 1Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper Flake
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
  • Balsamic Vinegar if you wish

How to Make:

  1. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a stock pot on medium-low heat.
  2. Saute onions in olive oil until they soften, being careful not to brown them. Add the summer sausage if you’re using it.
  3. Add celery and carrots and stir to coat with olive oil. Continue sauteing until they begin to sweat and soften, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add your spices, garlic, a pinch of salt, and the tomato paste. Stir well to coat the veggies in the spice and tomato paste. Add the diced and/or crushed tomatoes and stir.
  5. Add the lentils and stir again. Add water or broth to ensure everything is covered. Cover the pot most of the way and bring everything to a simmer. 
  6. Once simmering, cover completely and reduce heat; cook for about 30 minutes, at which time lentils will be almost done.
  7. Add the chickpeas and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until lentils are done. 
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preferences. Adding a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar is where I find “done” but maybe just some salt and pepper is more your style, or some extra red pepper flake, or some pecorino! Mushrooms are also a great addition to the sauce: saute with carrot, celery and onion, or add dried mushrooms when you add the liquid.

A flatlay image on a white background of colorful Z Wraps containing a variety of items. Clockwise from top right are: a yellow enamel saucepan of pine nuts covered by a blue Petals and Pods print Z Wrap; a large pot totally covered by a green and pink Strawberry Fields print; a dark purple dinner plate with chunks of bread peeking out, covered by a Farmers Market print Z wrap; a flat Painted Poppies wrap with crouton-sized pieces of bread on it; a piece of smoked cheese in a Leafy Green print Z Wrap; carrot sticks in a cone of Bees Love These print wrap; half an avocado in a red and white Connect the Dots print wrap; half a purple cabbage wrapped in Bees Love These floral print wrap; and a bowl of tomato-based food with a spoon in it, half covered by a Leafy Green print wrap in the center.Shakshuka 

The name of this dish roughly means “a mixture” and it’s been around for centuries. Warmly spiced, tomato-based, and is truly just as delicious and comforting for breakfast as it is for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Some versions of Shakshuka contain meat, where others do not. Sometimes there’s cheese, and almost all of the time there’s eggs. Sometimes it’s spelled with an S and sometimes a C, plus or minus a few vowels. However you spell it or make it, this is definitely a concept to keep in your culinary pocket for whenever you need comfort food. My foundation in this recipe began with my first experience of my brother-in-law’s version (that has never been the same since, ha!), and was re-ignited by the deliciousness that was The Green Bean Cafe’s version (there is no recipe at that link, just their website; the cafe is unfortunately closed due to the pandemic, which is a good time to point out that our favorite eating spots need us more than ever and if you can spare a little for your favorite spots right now, they would no doubt be grateful to be able to reopen soon and keep making your favorite treats).

If you want to cook your eggs in the Shakshuka (instead of frying, poaching, etc separately) you will want to use an oven-safe large skillet with a lid, pot with lid, or Dutch oven. Cast Iron and tomato-based recipes don’t usually play nice, making enamel or stainless steel a good choice here. It’s not required however to cook the eggs in the mixture- a fried or poached egg on top of a bowl of this stuff is just as good as one cooked in it. Like the red sauce, adding meat is an option and I have noted where you’d add it, but I strongly recommend at least browning it first for the flavor and color it imparts, as well as food safety. Sausage (my favorite is hot or sweet italian), in links or ground, works well. If you want to freeze your shakshuka, do not make the eggs in the oven, prepare them on the side instead - both the first time you make it, and when you defrost it. 


  • 1+ onion (medium-large), diced
  • 3+ cloves of garlic, minced or through a garlic press
  • 4-6 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 bell pepper, ideally on the sweeter side (red, yellow, orange), diced or chopped
  • 6 small/3 larger new potatoes
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, cut into roughly 1” pieces (optional)
  • Olive oil or the oil of your preference
  • 2” summer sausage, diced small (optional)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes 
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • +/- 1 can of tomato sauce (if you like more soup-like, add; if you want it thick, skip)
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (or great northern, cannellini, etc)
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans (or pinto, more chickpeas, whatever you have)
  • 1-2+ cups chopped seasonal or available veggies: cabbage, turnip, zucchini, mushrooms, summer squash etc. I like cabbage or cabbage and zuke, in fat ribbons and quarter-rounds respectively.
  • 1+ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1+ teaspoon ground sweet paprika (or hot, or smoked, whatever you have)
  • ⅛+ teaspoon ground cayenne 
  • 1+ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1-2 Eggs per person at the table, depending on your crowd
  • Feta, goat cheese, cilantro, or parsley - all optional (1 cheese and 1 herb work best)

How to Make:

  1. In a large (ideally oven proof and not cast iron) skillet or Dutch oven, heat some olive oil and saute onions and peppers over low-medium heat. Stir often and do not burn; the goal is to gently caramelize them just a little while you prep your other veggies. If you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for things to caramelize, just saute them until you’re done prepping the other ingredients. 
  2. When the onions are nearly done, add the garlic. Do not burn or brown it- saute until fragrant, adding a little more olive oil if needed.
  3. Add the carrots and celery, plus the summer sausage if using, sauteing another 5-8 minutes or so. If you’re also adding meat (should be already browned) do that here as well. 
  4. Add the spices, a tiny bit more olive oil if things seem dry, and stir well to coat everything. Heat for 1 minute until fragrant. Again, be careful not to burn!
  5. Now add all of the tomato items you’re using (including the sauce if you are using it, but it’s OK if you add it later if you realize things are too thick). Stir very well to get everything mixed, no spices left on the bottom. 
  6. Bring it all to a simmer, and once there simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add your veggies, potatoes, and beans. Cook covered on medium-low for about 30 minutes until potatoes are tender; be mindful not to let it boil over, as things can get very hot even on low with a good heavy lid.
  8. If you’re doing your eggs in the shakshuka, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (about 190C). When your 30 minutes are almost up, remove the lid and remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning (it’s hot, careful!) now. Use the back of a serving spoon or ladle to create a little well to crack each of your eggs into on the top of your mixture, spooning a little mixture onto the whites to help keep that egg where you put it. Salt and pepper the eggs (or season to your taste) before putting the now-very-heavy cooking vessel into the hot oven and baking for 8-12 minutes until the whites are opaque and the egg moves just a little bit if you wiggle the pan; go longer if you prefer harder yolks. 
  9. Remove from oven and serve immediately with crusty bread and a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese; some people also like cilantro or parsley on top, a drizzle of good olive oil, some parmesan, a spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt, or even a squeeze of lime. 

So there we are! 3 new things to try out, designed to fill your belly and warm your heart. What have you been cooking up with your leftovers lately? Tell us about it on social media and tag us using our community hashtag, #myzwraps. Share a recipe back and we'll give it a go!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published