A "Super Bowl", or what was supposed to have been a chickpea pot pie...
There are times when I enjoy really taking the time to cook. I prepare a glass of wine or sparkling water with sliced fresh limes, I turn on my favorite jazz or electroswing playlist (any Parov Stelar fans out there?), and I flip to a new recipe I've had my eye on for weeks. The ritual of preparing a meal is as relaxing to me as anything else I might do in the evening (I'm certain my husband does NOT feel this way, which is why I do most of the cooking around here ;)
There are other times, like last night, when the goal is simply to convert whatever remaining raw ingredients we have in our refrigerator into a meal as quickly as possible, preferably with leftovers for the following days. I'm sure most of us are often in the latter boat.
This Sunday evening in particular, we had just arrived back in town from a weekend away in New York, had not had the luxury of our usual Saturday market routine, and the Eagles were about to kickoff what would become one of the most historic Super Bowls in NFL history (that in-zone throw to Nick Foles? Amazing.) I was tackling laundry and dinner while Chris took care of our pup, and the minutes were ticking down to the coin toss. It had to be fast enough that I could pop it into the oven and pop myself onto the couch, and it had to come together exclusively with the less-than-fresh ingredients we already had on hand leftover from last week. What on earth to cook??
Super bowl aside, we've all been in this situation more often than we'd like to admit. To be totally honest, I had zero intention of writing a post about this one when I made it -- but then I realized that it is exactly situations like these that make we want to share what I make in the first place. The reason I write this blog is so that I can share, teach, and hopefully inspire others to feel confident in the kitchen with whatever ingredients they happen to have on hand. How many times have you found an awesome-looking recipe only to realize that you're missing half the ingredients? You don't have time to run to the grocery store, and takeout starts to look really tempting when your Plan A for Dinner falls through.
My goal is to show you how to think creatively with the ingredients in front of you, whether you're browsing a winter market looking for staples or browsing your refrigerator looking for anything that still might be edible. You don't have to rely on precise recipes to craft healthy, delicious, and resourceful meals for your family -- in fact, I have almost never strictly stuck to a recipe in my life (this is why I am usually NOT the baker in our family). Rather, I'm always adapting and subbing ingredients to use whatever we have, and sometimes I'll up the amount of veggies called for just to use something up, add nutrients, or make more leftovers.
So what did I make last night for the big game? I knew it had to be quick to prepare, and it had to be something I could bake in the oven rather than prepare on the stove so I could throw it in and walk away. I checked the fridge and found the following items on hand:
- thinly sliced sweet potato rounds I had used in a lasagna the weekend before
- the last of the chickpeas I had cooked the weekend before
- some very wilted spinach
- 4 very sad carrots
- 1 still intact parsley root (similar to celery root or parsnip)
- the last of a carton of mixed mushrooms
If you think old vegetables are out of the question, think again. Anything that may have lost it's raw appeal can still be perfect for a stew or a bake. In this case, I decided to make a chickpea pot pie. To my raw ingredients, I added the following items from the pantry:
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 cloves of garlic (feel free to use as much or as little garlic as you like, in any recipe. It's your dinner after all.)
- a can of diced tomatoes
- dried basil and thyme, and salt and pepper
- about 3 T of spelt flour that I had remaining in the freezer (this could be any type of flour, I just happened to have the end of a bag in the freezer to use up)
- some extra water to add moisture to the sauce
And that's it. I sauteed all my vegetables in some coconut oil while the oven preheated to 375, added the spices and water, and then added the flour to thicken it all at the end. From there, I dumped the entire pan into my pie dish and arranged the sweet potato slices around the edges and on top. I set the timer for 35 minutes, and took my seat on the couch just in time for the first touchdown.
Fly Eagles, Fly.