Supermarket Healthy by Melissa d’Arabian (book review)

supermarket healthy collage

Last year, I wrote about how I was going to try to plan a weekly menu instead of shopping daily. Back then, the plan lasted all of one week. That’s right: we couldn’t even make it work once. So I just kind of accepted it, and we went back to daily shopping. Fast forward to two weeks ago, and I decided it was time to try weekly planning and shopping again. This corresponded perfectly with the arrival of a book for review I requested from Blogging for Books: Supermarket Healthy by Melissa D’Arabian. The premise: It really is possible to make wholesome, healthy meals using whole-food ingredients found in a regular grocery store.

The book, like any standard cookbook, is divided into types of meals: snacks, breakfast, pasta, sandwiches, poultry, beef, soups, etc. We haven’t tried recipes from every category, but we have from several of them. Some of the ingredients aren’t as readily available as I hoped, at least in my area, so I’ve had to make a few substitutions (kale instead of Swiss chard in a soup, for example). But despite that, I have definitely found that the recipes in this book are absolutely amazing. And doable with “normal” ingredients. Out of the 15 or 20 that we’ve tried so far, all but two have gone onto a list for regular rotation. To have found at least a dozen new recipes that we all love is a wonderful thing.

My main complaint of this book is that it’s a trade paperback. I think cookbooks should always be printed with spiral binding so that it will stay open to make following the recipes easier. Additionally, I would like to see a photo of every recipe. I know this isn’t always feasible, but it’s very helpful in making sure you’re building everything correctly. These criticisms are minor in the long run, though. The book is so full of amazing recipes that I’m happy to overlook the problems.

So, what have our favorites been? I can think of three offhand that were exceptional. First, the sausage-lentil soup with chard (we used kale). The soup was very flavorful and hearty, and making it with brown-n-serve turkey sausage made it easy and healthy. We were all kind of sad when the pot ran empty. Next, the garlic chicken with potatoes. Oh, my goodness, that was amazing. Start by roasting some potatoes (whatever kind you like – we used slices of Yukon gold) and (a lot of) garlic in a roasting dish (I used my deep dish 9×13 baking pan) with a little bit of olive oil. About a fourth of the way through the roasting time, lay some fresh herbs atop the potatoes, then top with bone-in chicken pieces. Continue roasting until the chicken is cooked through. This was a wonderful meal that was super easy, and very hands-off. The potatoes barely needed chopping, and everything was cooked in one pan in the oven. And within just a short time, my house smelled absolutely heavenly. Hardly any dishes just makes it all the better! Finally, the chicken with fennel and onions, which is the picture included with this post. The picture in the book for this one looked like it was being served with pasta, but upon closer look, that was just the onion and fennel slices. But it gave me an idea anyway, and I served it over some angel hair pasta. The sauce from the vegetables was so amazing with the pasta, and the vegetables, though unconventional, were really delicious.

The recipes are only part of this book though. Ms. d’Arabian also includes “blueprints” for recipes throughout the book where she outlines a variety of ways to create your own meal from whatever you have on hand. This might include something like “Pick one of these three meats {pork, fish, or chicken], add an aromatic vegetable and some herbs {with examples of these}, add a sauce base {broth, juice, or wine}, and cook one of these ways {again, with examples}.” I haven’t utilized a blueprint yet, but I appreciate their inclusion in the book. As I get used to this style of recipe, I’ll definitely start experimenting more.

All this to say, I heartily recommend this book. If you have it in your budget, the $24.99 purchase price (less on Amazon) is well worth it. At the very least, head over to your library and see if you can borrow it to try some of the recipes. You won’t regret it!