Chris and I have started this new thing to save a little cash, decrease how much food we are wasting, and get out of our cooking rut. Err.. Maybe I should back up and tell you, that during a typical week, Chris and I sit down over the weekend and create our meal plan for the next 5-6 days- effectively, Monday thru Friday. Under this system, the CSA veggies informs the menu, the menu informs the shopping list, which ultimately kind of falls apart when the inevitable unexpected meeting, or late night at the office pops up, or something weather related. So then, we have the ingredients for things that we didn't cook just kind of sitting there-- and we end up making a freezer pizza(!!!), going out to eat, and my half pan of butternut squash black bean enchiladas gets thrown out because I had them for lunch, and god forbid one has something for dinner that one had for lunch, amiright?
Forgive me if this is already a thing which most smart efficient people already do..To me, this is groundbreaking, so just bear with me for a second.... Under the improvisation cooking system, Chris and I plan meals for three of the five days, plus one get-rid-of-leftovers day, and day and a clean out the fridge dinner day (i.e., dinner improv). The clean out the fridge day only has one rule- one needs to make something out of the stuff one already has on hand. There can be no- running out to the store to quick buy a few things, that's the only rule. Por ejemplo, last night Chris and I made the most delicious southwest black bean burgers with sauteed carrots, poblano peppers, toasted cashews, onions, garlic, feta cheese, barley, roasted corn, and three teaspoons of southwest seasoning. We didn't have burger buns, so we used just regular ole' bread, and we used a cucumber dill sauce from the night before as the main condiment. It was totes delightful. I used this recipe to help me cobble together what I had into burger form without it being too moist nor too dry. I highly recommend!
The trick to improvisational cooking is to seek out recipe guides or collecting many recipes around a certain topic and picking and choosing what you like the best. Quick recipes which naturally lend themselves to improvisation include salads, pasta, soup, pizza, sandwiches (including vegetable-based patties such as the aforementioned black bean burgers). If you are a NYT subscriber, you can find these 'Cooking Guides' as a appendix to the recipe section. If you aren't, you can generally find cute infographic/ guide on the topic of making x by doing an image search for 'x cooking guide.' I also realized that one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman has several of these guides/ tables of variations for any curious cook. Let me know if you want to borrow it, and get some inspo for your next improvisational feast.
What is in your CSA shares this week?
- Red Onions
- Red Potatoes
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Sweet Corn
What I'm cooking this week:
- Corn Stock
- Green Bean Stir-Fry with Peppers Onions and Potatoes
- Smoky Baba Ghanoush
- Peach and Tomato Salad
- Kale Quinoa Fruit Salad (I kind of just use whatever fruit/nuts/ vinegrette I have on hand) but here is a link where you can get the general idea