LaLaLaLa. It makes me want to sing. More accurately though, Lu-La-Li-La. I’m so very good at naming things aren’t I? Feel free to say no and supply names for any of my creations. Make sure the name indicates that most of them are half stolen, er, evolved from the ideas of others.
That is to say that once again a new creation comes about because of poor planning, wrong ingredients and leftovers. Little Sis broached the topic of ‘Have Veggies, Must Use’ in her last post in which she discussed the choices of using up veggies too fresh to ignore and veggies too on-the-edge-of-fuzziness for delay. Use both in her wonderful fritters.
Sometimes the vegetables dictate dinner. We think we are in charge but really, the slightly soft squash and the slightly wrinkled beans tell the frugal to get busy. Rather than search for a recipe that calls for the precise ingredients you have on hand, you can always turn to some recipes that, given the right spices and the right balance of types of ingredients are ready to help you empty your vegetable bin with dignity.
A few wonderful vague recipes come to mind.
Stir fry? Choose a blend of cooked grain (be it rice, quinoa, barley or anything else you use)
some veggies, (whatever you can cut, pull from the bin or defrost)
tofu or meat if you choose
and make sure you include soy sauce (or Bragg’s), sesame oil, perhaps some garlic and/or scallions, and perhaps some ginger (kept in the freezer it’s very easy to grate).
Cook in a wok or pan briefly at high temp and you have a tasty stir fry. Adding some pineapple or peanuts can make this very special
Dosas with cumin, or dosas with garlic or oregano. It doesn’t matter – just so you use up the veggies in the bin, in the garden or in the freezer along with some chickpea flour. Pick your veggies first based on what you have, grate or slice them, mix them in the batter and cook them up with a spice that goes well with your chosen veggie.
Little Sis had a post about variety bowls as well.. can’t find it Little Sis – please help.
Now you can add luscious layers. The first time I made it, it was a vegan lasagna, I don’t know where I got the idea – so any and all of you are free to take credit. I didn’t write it down but it was so simple I didn’t see the need.
Lightly oil a baking dish
Place a layer of corn tortillas
Then layer zucchini or squash thinly sliced longways
Repeat layers as you like
Bake at 350 for 30 – 45 minutes until zucchini is soft as you like
Okay, basic enough and rife with opportunity for variation, which is what I like because often it means I don’t have to go to the grocery store for lack of a certain ingredient. Laziness can also be the mother of invention :-)
So here’s what I did while we were on vacation and I wanted to make an easy tasty dinner.
Sliced the zucchini and tomatoes we had on hand.
I placed one layer of corn tortillas in the bottom of 2 lightly oiled pans so I could have a GF / DF (dairyfree) version.
Next I layered the zucchini
Spread the sauteed large onion and about 4 large handfuls of spinach with ground cumin mixed in
– slapped on the remaining few tortillas as I didn’t have enough for multiple layers, hence….
I put on a layer of leftover quinoa (already cooked) – about 1/4 – 1/2″ thick
A little of this and a little of that…still more quinoa to come
The next step was to add some sauce.
You can go 2 ways here. You can add salsa and go Mexican, or you can add marinara / tomato sauce and go Italian.
Since I went Mexican, I used cumin in the onion/spinach saute. If you go Italian you could use rosemary or oregano and/or garlic if you choose to include sauteed onions and greens.
You can make your own salsa or sauce or buy some at the store… no judgment, we’re talking about fast, as healthy as possible and tasty here.
So I slopped some commercial mango salsa on as a layer
Lay the tomato slices on top
Placed fresh mozzarella slices on one pan and cashew cheese on the other.
Step-Mom, helping me through this process suggested a little parmesan on top of the mozzarella pan. Even better.
Then we baked them at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Although the cashew cheese on the right looks crusty and dry, it was not. There is a recipe for cashew cheese that melts which I have not yet tried but it would probably make this dish more appetizing. Although, it was indeed very appetizing. Everyone, even the meat lovers at the table enjoyed it.
So don’t fret over whether you have the exact same ingredients. Create luscious layers of whatever you have.
Layer it, bake it, save the leftovers for lunch, and then rest your weary head little real food soldier.
You have earned your sleep :-)