What to Eat When COVID Hits Home?

Red sauce with ground turkey. gbh007 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The dreaded finally happened — I got COVID. Two days later, my husband tested positive.
We were baffled because we’d been more cautious than most people, masking long after others stopped, avoiding theaters and dining outdoors in restaurants so late in the season that our hands and food nearly froze. Fortunately, we caught what amounted to bad colds.

At first, David cooked for both of us. But I took over once his fever reached 100.2 degrees. I won’t kid you: Getting meals on the table with two of us down was tricky.

I began by pulling leftovers from the freezer. I ordered meals from restaurants. I whipped up simple things, such as melted cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs.

But as I felt better, I realized it would be smart to prepare large quantities of easy recipes, so my efforts would last for multiple meals. I simplified old standards, such as chicken soup. I made salade niçoise from boxed lettuce and ingredients I had on hand. I threw together a delicious bowl of penne.

Although I fully recovered after five days, David’s case lasted a little longer.
I learned several things while going through this ordeal. Even if you get bored with quarantining, fight the urge to make elaborate meals as your energy level will probably lag behind your ambitious, well-meaning desires.

While experiencing the worst of COVID symptoms, prepare effortless foods that require little cleanup. Think of sandwiches, canned soup or hummus and pita bread. But most importantly, if friends offer to cook for you — say yes!

Shortcut Chicken Soup | Meat
Serves 8-10

8 chicken breast halves
1 pound bag of mini peeled carrots
1 package celery sticks, cut in half
1 small package of diced onion
1 pound baby potatoes, cut into halves or thirds
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
5 bouillon cubes
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon bottled parsley (from your spice rack)
1 teaspoon bottled dill (from your spice rack)
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Place all the ingredients into a large pot. Cover the ingredients with enough water so they are submerged by two inches. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil on a high flame. Reduce the flame to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours. Stir often. If the broth is evaporating too quickly, lower the flame.

Check toward the end to make sure there’s enough salt, and add some, if needed.
Remove the chicken from the pot with a slotted spoon utensil. Cool the chicken to warm. Discard the skin and bones. With a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken and return it to
the pot.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate. After refrigeration, gently remove the fat with a soup spoon and discard. Heat the soup and serve.

A Simple Red Sauce with Ground Turkey | Meat
Serves 6-8

28-ounce can whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil,
plus 2 tablespoons
2 pounds ground turkey
Kosher salt to taste
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried basil
8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 pound penne

Dice the tomatoes, preserving the liquid in the can and any that accumulates on the cutting board. Reserve.

In a large, deep pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on a medium flame. Add the ground turkey in clumps. Lightly salt the turkey. Sauté until cooked through, breaking up large clumps with a utensil. Using a slotted spoon utensil, move the turkey to a bowl and reserve. Carefully pour out any liquid in the pot and discard.

Drizzle 2 more tablespoons of oil into the pot and heat on a medium flame. Add the onion, garlic, basil and a bit more salt. Sauté briefly until the onion and garlic are fragrant. Add the tomatoes, liquid and all. Pour in the 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. Return the turkey to the pot.

Simmer for 30 minutes, until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly.
As the sauce simmers, follow the directions on the box of penne. Drain the penne in a colander, and move it to a large pasta bowl. Ladle the sauce over the penne, and serve it immediately.

So Easy Salade Niçoise | Pareve
Serves 6-8

5-ounce box of lettuce, any kind
2 hardboiled eggs, sliced
3 (7-ounce) cans of albacore tuna packed in water, drained
1½ teaspoons capers
16-ounce package cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
⅓ cup black olives
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
15 cooked or raw green beans, sliced, or another vegetable
½ onion, sliced thin
⅛ cup olive oil, or more if needed
⅛ cup red wine vinegar, or more if needed

Note: If you’re going to serve this salad a little at a time, saving the rest for subsequent days, only dress as much salad as you’ll consume at the time.

Place all the ingredients into a large salad bowl. With salad tossers, mix until well combined. Serve immediately.


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