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Dinner, Recipe

The virtue of using what’s on hand…

Sometimes I look into the fridge thinking about what to prepare for dinner and nothing jumps out at me. I open drawers, sift through cupboards, but I completely lack inspiration for making anything that I want to make much less eat.

Usually this comes at a time when I do not have enough of a single ingredient. I had one such experience over the weekend. I found myself famished after yoga on Sunday afternoon regretting the choice to put off grocery shopping until later in the week and rifling through the fridge finding little more than a bunch of odds and ends and wondering what to do.

I contemplated walking two doors down the street to a little Thai place and getting the usual take-out option that Cam and I get when we go for take out. (In case you’re wondering, he gets the vegetarian pad thai and I get the green curry vegetable rice with tofu and pineapple added in.) But no. I’m committed to sticking with the plan and I was not up for spending extra money on takeout when we had plenty in the house. So I hunkered down and thought about it some more… a little more pondering and wouldn’t you know it? A delicious recipe was born. Coincidentally,  it contains tofu and one of my dear readers asked that I post some recipes containing tofu and talk about some tofu preparation techniques. I’m up for the challenge, but we will start off with a softball for this first recipe.

Daaaaaaaaaaaaang! Veggies make that plate look good!

Veggie-Lish-ous Mix n’ Match Surprise!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs Earth Balance (or non-dairy butter-like substance of your choice)
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Cubed tofu (I suggest Nasoya’s Organic pre-Cubed Extra Firm Tofu)
  • 1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes (organic if you’ve got ’em!)
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp of dried thyme)
  • Shredded carrots (up to a cup)
  • 1 1/2 fresh peppers cut into bite-sized pieces (I had a little each of red, yellow and green pepper)
  • 1 small ( or 1/2 lrg) eggplant, skin on & diced
  • 3/4 cup artichoke hearts (frozen are fine, canned are okay but not preferred)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

What you’ll need to do:

Using a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the Earth Balance completely over medium heat and make sure that the bottom of the pan is completely coated. Turn the burner on high heat and toss in the onions, stirring constantly. Once the onions start to get a little soft and their color starts to turn clear, add in the balsamic vinegar and continue stirring. Once the onions are totally cooked, add in the drained tofu cubes and stir until the cubes are coated with the balsamic-onion mixture. Pour in the entire can of diced tomatoes (no draining!) and stir thoroughly. Once it starts to bubble, put in the carrots and mix them in. After about two minutes, reduce the heat back to medium and toss in the eggplant, wait a minute or two, then toss in the peppers. Cover the pot and let the party simmer for another minute or two, then come back, stir, add in the artichoke hearts, lemon juice and strip the leaves of the fresh thyme into the pot, or stir in the dried goods. Salt and pepper to taste, allow to simmer for another minute or two, then pull it off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before stirring once more and then serving.

You can serve it over rice, quinoa or couscous (pictured). I actually had some leftovers warmed up over mixed greens for lunch and it was pretty excellent. Have a piece of hearty bread or a slice of avocado on the side and it will make for a delicious, quick dinner.

This recipe is a mix-n-match because you can follow the basic recipe and use whatever you have on hand. No carrots? No problem. Not fond of artichokes? That’s fine. Replace the ingredients I use with whatever you have in your fridge. There are only two tricks to this recipe: one is to put the tofu in right away so it has plenty of time to absorb all of the wonderful flavors. The other trick is to stagger the addition of the veggies into the pot according to their cooking time.  You cannot put everything into the pot at once otherwise half the veggies will be mush while the rest will be rock hard when you’re done. Here’s a little trick to remember: the further you have to go into the soil to get it out, the longer it needs to be in your pot. Example: Potatoes need to cook longer than spinach. Carrots need more time than tomatoes. Turnips require a longer time over the fire than zucchini. Use what you have and you will have a fast, healthy and inexpensive meal on your hands instead of a bunch of half-used veggies. Use what you like and what you have. Be creative! Your kitchen, your choice.

….and surprise! It’s de-lishy!



About lishyskitchen

A regular gal attempting to balance career, life and love while on the path to wellness...


2 thoughts on “The virtue of using what’s on hand…

  1. Using what’s on hand…. If having a garden has taught us nothing else for the last few years it is exactly that. For 6 months of the year we plan dinner based on the question, “How can we use up THAT before it spoils?” We have learned (and invented) a lot of new recipes this way…and it’s very rewarding to gain cooking skills like that.

    Posted by Jimmy Cracked-Corn | March 31, 2010, 9:48 am
  2. I totally agree. It is shocking to learn about how much food goes to waste each year–especially when it takes such minimal time and effort to pull together something good once those skills are honed.

    Posted by lishyskitchen | March 31, 2010, 10:25 am

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