Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Veritable Feast or "How I Turned A Bunch of Scraps into Dinner"

I'd like to start by saying I don't often use fake meats but that would make it seem like I'm hatin on those who have a thang for the veggie dogs, sausages, bacon, baloney, tofurkey and veggie ground. Let's be honest, we weren't all born vegetarians and if someone is going to choose between a hot dog and a tofurkey dog and go veg then who am I to cast a stone? *Gets off soap box

So I like so many recent university grads am floundering my way through the work world on temp work and odd jobs until we find that perfect job our Ivy League diplomas promised. (Work experience? Well no sir, but I could write you a twenty page paper no problem...) That being said, sometimes the wallet gets a little thin so I found myself tonight looking at the fridge wondering what the hell to conjure up.

I had half a pack of veggie breakfast sausage leftover from my weekend attempt at brunch (half success, half failed tofu omelette that turned into scrambled mush) a can of diced tomatoes with jalapeños, a couple of mushroom an onion and 3/4 of a can of cannelini beans I feared were about to go south so I decided on a minestone (-ish?) soup and spanish rice!

I had a box of spanish rice hanging around at the back of my cupboard but rice isn't exactly a meal so here is how it went........

Veggie Spanish Rice

1 package of Spanish Rice Mix (Whatever brand tickles your fancy)
1 tsp ketchup
1/2 Green Bell Pepper diced
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup green peas
8 grape tomatoes quartered (yeah thats all I had, I'd recommend almost doubling that amount)
4 Veggie Breakfast Links (again if you have more use'em!)
chili flakes (to taste I used about 1/2 teaspoon

Oil up a pan with about a teaspoon of oil and once it warms up to medium heat add the diced onion. After the onion softens up you are gonna want to add the garlic, give it a stir and throw in that bell pepper (colour really doesn't matter, I would used red or otherwise if choice was an option) and cook for 5 mins or so stirring a few times. Add that tsp of ketchup, the peas and tomatoes and chili flakes. Follow your rice recipe from here on in......

In a small pan with a thin layer of oil fry up the sausages until they are niiiiiiice and brown (I've never eaten a real one but I'd like to think that all fried up these bad boys look pretty authentic). Pat dry with paper towel to soak up the oil and slice into 1/2 thick slices. I allocate two sliced links to each serving of rice. Had about half the rice left over.

This was pretty damn tasty so I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for this.

Minestrone-ish Tomato Vegetable Soup

1 can diced tomatoes (Eden Organic Diced tomatoes w. jalapeños)
4 white mushrooms, sliced (I'd use 6-8 if you have cremini or baby bella would be awesome too)
2 carrots diced or cut up how you like! 
1/2 onion
1 cup canned cannelini beans (not uncooked beans!)
1/3 cauliflower, small florets
1/2 - 1 cup chopped green beans
2 cups veggie broth ( I used one mushroom broth cube and some frozen I made from scraps)
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic minced
pinch of basil & oregano
salt to taste - I love veggie salt by Herbamare
1 tbsp olive oil

In a medium sized pot warm up the oil on low-medium heat. Toss in the onions, allow to soften up for a few mins then follow with the garlic. Let them sizzle for another minute then add the carrots, cauliflower, green beans and mushrooms. Cook for a few more minutes as is before adding the basil, oregano and bay leaf. 

Pour in the diced tomatoes and the 2 cups of veggie broth. I follow this up with another canful of water to get the remnant out of the can so I don't have to scrape out the stubborn tomatoes (I have bested them - yes I am cleverer than your average diced tomato). Turn the heat up a bit and once things come to a boil add the beans and lower to a simmer. I like to smoosh up some of the beans to thicken the soup. All this involves is squeezing a small handful into a fist before dropping them in. 

I like to let my soup simmer for ages but you can keep it to 30 mins if you are impatient but I like to keep it thickening for an extra 15 minutes or so. Let your stomach be your guide........

So thats all for tonight..... some day in the future I'll buy a camera so that the pics are higher quality than my phone renders them.

Keep it pimp!

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