Kitchen Purge: A Romantic Comedy

A little creativity and basic food knowledge can take you pretty far.  Sometimes, I manage to make something truly delicious out of the most random crap.

I’m sure we’ve all had those times were there is just an accumulation of stuff in the kitchen. In the fridge, on the counter, in the cabinets, etc.   On one recent evening, for example, I came home from work and spent about two hours trying to decide what I wanted to do for dinner since H was at a work event.  I knew I had food in the house and it would have felt distinctly irresponsible to get takeout. So I took an inventory:

Counter: one super-ripe mango, one pineapple that needed to be cut, one cantaloupe that needed to be cut [I am soooo lazy sometimes], one Russet potato that was beginning to be questionable, and the ever-present garlic, onions, and shallots

Fridge: Crikey. Um…some sliced crimini mushrooms (which turned out to be gross and I had to throw them out), cooked brown rice, turnip greens, asparagus (some cooked and some raw), Trader Joe’s soy chorizo (FAVE), an unopened package of tofu, a baseball-sized chunk of cauliflower (why?), some past-due edamame hummus, and a mango-flavored coconut yogurt

Cabinet: let’s not go there

Eventually I formed a loose plan, incorporating the cauli-ball, some garlic, the cooked asparagus, the brown rice, and the soy chorizo.

I started the cauliflower first, since it would have to cook the longest.  Since I didn’t feel like turning on the oven, I just sauteed it in a little bit of olive oil on the stovetop, and covered it with a lid to help it cook faster. I tossed in a clove of chopped garlic about 2/3 of the way through, and toward the end I added a dash of garlic salt and a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes (and then I spent the next hour coughing. I knew that was going to happen when I put the flakes in, yet I continued breathing. How stupid of me.)

Anyway, I just heated the chorizo through in a pan with a little cooking spray. I cut the asparagus into pieces and was going to heat that in a pan too (stuff reheated on the stove is SO much better, in my opinion) but then I got impatient so I just nuked it, along with the rice.

Rand 001
What I should have done

When everything was done cooking, I put it in a bowl and VOILA:

Rand 007

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but this was a giant bowl of food. Since I am not exactly svelte, I thought to myself that I should probably only eat half, but of course I ate the whole thing, and then wished I had even more. Sigh.

Rand 008

Anyway, I was pretty happy that I managed to make a really tasty, filling dinner (despite starting with only a loose plan), make some room in the fridge, and incorporate some stuff that needed to be used (my battle against wasting food is ongoing, but that’s another tale for another day).

I do feel that this is important, because even if one does not have the time or resources to shop for and cook a big, fancy meal each night, a little resourcefulness and some standard ingredients can go a long way!

Let’s review: anything sauteed with olive oil and garlic is good, amirite?! Hello, cauliflower. Add some texturally-pleasing and flavorful ingredients (here, chorizo, though I could have definitely been healthier and used beans or non-rotten mushrooms. With either of those, I would have added some more spices and maybe a touch of tomato sauce or veg broth, but I didn’t need to do that with the chorizo because it is a processed food that is pre-flavored). Finally, a mild starch (here, brown rice) provided the vehicle on which to enjoy it all.

Of course, now that farmstand/farmer’s market season is here (rejoice!), I’m guaranteed to have loads of random produce laying around on any given day.  Maybe I’ll start my own Chopped competition of one.  Poor H.

Anyone else have any tips for incorporating various ingredients from around the kitchen? Or any examples of seemingly-incongruous stuff you’ve thrown together in a pinch?

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