Leftovers Reimagined

The past few days I have been left to my own devices in my parent’s house. My parents and my little sister (who is still on break from college) have all left for a few days to go soak up some sun in the Turks and Caicos. I’m incredibly envious but at the same time I am reveling in the independence. There is something incomparable to the feeling I get taking care of a house/apartment in which I am the only occupant. Well really just the kitchen. (I could do without bathroom cleaning).

I love cooking for others and feeding them delicious foods, but it is hard for me to really experiment with my cooking like that. What if something goes horribly wrong? I can’t expect others to eat my disasters. If I am cooking for just myself though, it’s likely that I will just eat the disaster anyway. At least the salvageable parts of it.

The past two nights I have made myself meals that have been a combination of leftovers and freshly cooked foods. Sunday night I was in the mood for a nice warm soup. I didn’t want to just heat up something from a can but I also didn’t want to spend all day stewing up a thick and heavy soup. I noticed that there was an abundance of carrots in the fridge… carrot soup it was! I made a beeline to the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook to see if they had a nice recipe to give me a little guidance. Sure enough, they did.

Since it was just me eating, I halved the recipe and it made the perfect amount. I ate two large bowls and still had a full serving leftover to save in the fridge for another night. I followed the recipe basically as it was given. I left out the potato, chose non-fat plain yogurt for my dairy addition, and used cashews instead of almonds because I felt that they would add a richer flavor. This is where the leftovers come into play. A few nights ago my mom made oven roasted shrimp and broccoli. So delicious and so simple. All it is shrimp, broccoli, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder, and a little lemon juice tossed in a baking dish and slid in the oven to get all happy. Because it was such a hit, there was only a small bit leftover. I picked out al the broccoli for a snack earlier that afternoon so the only parts left were the shrimp and the seasonings. I tossed that into my soup and added a little fresh ground ginger. Done! It was so delicious and the shrimp added a nice little textural surprise and, not to mention, some protein. So yummy. Moosewood sure knows their veggies!

Tonight’s leftover rework was for the bean burgers. There were just two lonely burgers still chilling in the fridge. I wanted to give them some love. The ingredients for my freshly cooked addition also were scraps left in the fridge. I feel rude calling them scraps since they made something delicious, but there just wasn’t enough of each individual ingredient to make them the star of their own dishes. The trio? Button mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and baby spinach. I started by sautéing the mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil. Once they just about were coated in the olive oil I poured probably 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar right into the pan. I let them cook and shrivel up for a bit while I rinsed the tomatoes and cut them in half.  I threw those in, added a little salt, and kept the heat between medium and medium-high so the tomatoes would soften and get a little glazed. Just about a minute before I turned off the heat I tossed in the spinach. As soon as the spinach started to wilt I turned off the heat. I poured my creation right on top of a bean burger that I quickly heated in the microwave. Who need ketchup when you have this lovely medley? It was just the right amount of juice from the tomatoes, meatiness from the mushrooms, green from the spinach, and the little touch of sweetness from the balsamic that reduced as it cooked. I kept eating the topping more quickly than my burger so I kept going back for more. I love toppings. By the time my bean burger was gone, so was the entire pan of veggies I had just cooked up. What a scrumptiously simple creation.





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