Up Your Covid Cooking Game With These Dancer-Designed Recipes

February 22, 2021

With theaters shuttered, many dancers are in search of a new venue to keep their creative juices flowing. Enter: the kitchen. This may be new territory for some, but for these four dancers, their moves here are well-rehearsed. If you’re looking for some gourmet inspiration, give these dishes a spin.

Chipotle Salmon With Cilantro Lime Gremolata, Black Beans and Kale Salad

Pennsylvania Ballet corps member Adrianna de Svastich knows what it takes to fuel a performing body. Beyond her work in the studio, she is a National Academy of Sports Medicine–certified personal trainer, a soon-to-be nutrition coach and a self-proclaimed foodie.


For the salmon:

  • 1 lb salmon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsps honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated

For the gremolata:

  • 1 lime
  • 1–2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1–2 garlic cloves
  • salt, to taste

For the black beans:

  • 1–2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1–2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 2 tbsps vegetable broth
  • 1–2 tsps cumin
  • dash of cayenne
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • olive oil, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Adrianna smiling showing off her plate of food

Courtesy de Svastich


For the salmon and gremolata:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake salmon on a baking sheet with a rack, or on a foil-lined baking sheet, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Mix adobo sauce, honey and garlic in a small bowl. Brush salmon with this mixture.
  5. Bake for an additional 15–20 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145°F.
  6. Zest half the lime, and use the remainder for juice.
  7. Combine lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, cilantro and garlic to create gremolata. Smother on salmon for serving.

For the black beans:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat, add shallots and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add garlic and cook for about a minute, stirring until fragrant.
  3. Add beans, vegetable broth, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover until ready to serve.

For the salad:

  1. Toss chopped kale in a bowl with queso fresco, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Recipe notes:
Makes 2–3 servings. A side of quinoa can be added to the dish if you want a heartier meal.

De Svastich and her boyfriend love to cook at home, and salmon appears on the menu at least once a week. “It’s a great weekday meal during rehearsal and performance periods,” she says. “In addition to being a great source of protein and omega-3s, it’s also high in B vitamins, vitamin D and essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium.”

Using real, whole foods is essential in de Svastich’s cooking. She aims to have a balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats, and lots of greens. “I try to keep my diet 80/20—being mindful 80 percent of the time, and leaving room for treats 20 percent of the time without feeling guilty!”

Authentic Masala Chai

Rohan Bhargava’s bold choreography fuses Indian culture with contemporary movement, recently earning him the Asian American Arts Alliance’s Jadin Wong Fellowship. When not working with his own group, Rovaco Dance Company, Bhargava performs with Kizuna Dance and teaches.


  • 3/4 cup milk (“I prefer whole milk, but nondairy alternatives work too”)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 green cardamom pods or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 whole clove (optional)
  • 2–3 fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1 tbsp loose-leaf black tea (Bhargava prefers Brooke Bond Red Label)
  • sugar or another sweetener, such as honey or maple syrup, to taste

Rohan chopping ginger in the kitchen

Courtesy Bhargava


  1. Pour milk and water into a pot or a tea kettle.
  2. Add ginger, cardamom pods (crack pods open before putting them in), clove and basil leaves. Cover and heat on low until it starts to boil gently.
  3. Boil for 2 minutes, then add black tea leaves. Mix well and boil for another 2 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, cover pot and let flavors infuse for an additional 3–5 minutes.
  5. Drain tea into a cup using a strainer.
  6. Add sweetener, and enjoy with toast or cookies!

Recipe notes:
You can use your own ratio of milk to water—for a heavy and creamier tea, use no water; for a lighter texture, use 1:1 ratio. The key is to infuse the flavors well. Bhargava prefers heating on low for a longer time.

Bhargava’s fondness for chai is rooted in his connection with his grandmother. While visiting home in New Delhi, India, drinking chai together became a bonding experience.

“Every morning, I would sit down and chat with her over it, and I think she was happily surprised because growing up, I never drank it. I could sense her excitement in passing on a tradition that she has loved all her life,” he says.

Bhargava enjoys chai in the morning or as a treat between lunch and dinner.

Peruvian Lomo

Siblings Stephanie and Marc Crousillat were most recently performing onstage together in Broadway’s West Side Story revival. But both have experience in all kinds of projects: Stephanie has appeared in Sleep No More, in music videos and with Johannes Wieland Company in Germany. Marc, a Princess Grace Award recipient, has danced for the likes of Trisha Brown, Netta Yerushalmy and Tere O’Connor.


For the rice:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Peruvian corn (optional)

For the meat:

  • 2 large Yukon potatoes, sliced to steak-fry size
  • 2–3 tbsps oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 lbs filet mignon or sirloin steaks, sliced into thin, bite-size pieces
  • 1 red onion, sliced thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsps yellow aji pepper paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine
  • adobo, to taste
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed, sliced thick
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Marc and Stephanie in the kitchen chopping vegetables

Courtesy Croussillats


  1. Bring rice and water to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, turn off heat and cover. Let stand for another 10–15 minutes before serving. Mix in salt and oil.
  2. Fry potatoes in oil until golden, season with salt and set aside.
  3. In a wok, pour 1 tbsp oil and cook meat to desired temperature. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, sauté onions, garlic, aji paste, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, red wine, salt to taste and adobo. Mix well on medium heat.
  5. Return the cooked meat to the mixture and stir well. Add cooked potatoes and stir again until well combined.
  6. Lastly, add tomatoes and parsley and stir to combine. Serve the stir-fry with rice. If you can find Peruvian corn, add it to the white rice; it makes a great combination!

Recipe note: The Croussillats also enjoy eating other versions of this dish, substituting the beef for halibut, shrimp, chicken or tofu.

The Crousillats have spent years watching their mother perfect this family recipe. “Our mom is from Cuba and our dad is from Peru, so it took her some time to fully understand what he was describing from his recollection, and how she could make that even better,” Stephanie says. That is why their version includes red wine and filet mignon. The star ingredient, though, might be the aji pepper. “We love it because there’s a sweetness to it that makes it so delicious,” says Marc.

When Stephanie and Marc were living at home, every Thursday was “Lomo Night.” Now, the whole family meets once a month—on a Thursday, of course—to maintain the tradition.