The Minimalist Kitchen in a Minimalist House

My husband is headed over to Eastern Washington tomorrow, to help his parents move for the fourth time in the last eleven months. It might not even be the final move, and the siblings have still to tackle the darned house, now standing empty except for decades of belongings, 98% of which none of them want.

This might explain why I'm picking up books like Melissa Coleman's The Minimalist Kitchen.


Imagine if I ran for president. I'd never get elected because I'd tell everyone, "Never buy another single thing, if you can help it. And, if you can't avoid it, don't buy new, if at all possible. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The last thing any of us need is more stuff. And I'm going to press for a Constitutional amendment, making it a law that presents shall no longer be given on Christmas to anyone over the age of ten."

But I digress. Hey, if you actually use your kitchen for cooking; if people in your family can be coaxed into eating healthy, plant-heavy meals; and if you share my love for purging, check this book out. Coleman gives a very thorough run-down on what a working kitchen and well-stocked pantry actually require, and then she provides a hundred or so recipes. After a little reading, I ran right over to my kitchen and cleaned out three drawers and dumped some little gadgets I never use. Mischief managed.

In addition to the tips and structure, the book has beautiful photographs and handy breakdowns of time and equipment needed for the recipes. I gave this recipe a whirl this week, supplementing it with some minestrone, and everyone in the family thought it was delicious.

The length of the recipe can be daunting, but done in little stages, it was actually no big deal.

Open-Faced Sweet Potato Torta (minus the sweet potatoes because I forgot to put them on for the picture)

Open-Faced Sweet Potato Torta (minus the sweet potatoes because I forgot to put them on for the picture)

Minimalist Kitchen's Open-Faced Sweet Potato Tortas

(4+ servings, but I'd supplement with a salad or soup with meat, for bigger appetites)


3/4 c water
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp peppercorns
3/4 c thinly-sliced red onion

Bring water to boil in small saucepan. Put the rest of the ingredients, except the onion, in a pint jar, add boiling water, and stir till the salt and sugar dissolve. Put the onions in, making sure they're submerged. Throw the jar in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (The onions are good for 3 weeks. We ate leftover ones on hamburgers and in salad. I'd make these again just to have on hand!)


1 tsp pureed chipotle in adobo sauce (freeze the rest of the can for other recipes)
1/4 c mayo

Mix together and refrigerate.


1-1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, cut in 1/4" slices
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 450F. Combine cornstarch, salt, cumin, cayenne, and garlic in a bowl. Stir in olive oil until a paste forms. Toss the potato slices in the paste to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes each side. Sprinkle with cilantro.

To assemble the tortas, you will also need:

1 can refried black beans (she provides a recipe. I made my own.)
thick slices of artisan bread
1 c arugula
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 sliced avocado
1 sliced jalapeno (optional)
1 lime, cut in wedges
Sprinkle of cotijo cheese.

To assemble, toast the bread. Smear with 1/4 cup refried beans, 1 Tbsp chipotle mayo, sweet potato rounds to cover, 1/4 cup arugula, 1/2 Tbsp cilantro, 1/4 avocado, 1-2 Tbsp pickled onions, jalapeno slices, and a squeeze of lime. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.


I had no arugula, no jalapenos, and no cotijo cheese on hand, and these were still yummy. And so healthy! Let's be real, though--if your home has normal little kids in it, they're not going to eat this. If you have an empty nest or teenagers, then go for it.

Enjoy. And now excuse me while I get back to throwing things in the Goodwill bag.