Farm Stand Harvest

My oldest started kindergarten a couple weeks ago.  He’s done fantastically well, no tears at all, and comes home every day with a grin on his face.  After his first week, though, he did ask if he was done.  So we had the conversation about what the school year means vs. summer break, and “first kid school” {elementary school}, “second kid school” {middle school}, and third kid school {high school}, and then there’s even more school–“adult school” {college}, and then more adult school, for more specialty {graduate school}!  Yesterday my son said to me, “Mommy, when you grow up you’re going to be a cooker, right?  You love to cook.  Are you going to cooker school when you grow up?”

I just smiled and said, “Yup.”

You don’t need cooker school for this recipe–just a Farmer’s Stand–Run and get some corn, zucchini, and tomatoes, and you’re halfway there to making a fresh summer succotash!  The rest:  leftover rice, a can of cannellini beans, breadcrumbs…and you have a crispy rice cake to have with the succotash.

summer succotash with rice cakes 1

Chop up all your succotash ingredients about the same size and start sautéing,

summer succotash with rice cakes 2

summer succotash with rice cakes 3Add chopped tomatoes and parsley for a little freshness,

summer succotash with rice cakes 4Pan-fry your rice cakes, and voilá!

summer succotash with rice cakes 6 summersuccotashwithricecakes


RICE CAKES WITH SUMMER SUCCOTASH

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy, but there are two different components you have to keep and eye on
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE SUCCOTASH

  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut off into a bowl
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter

INGREDIENTS FOR THE RICE CAKES

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with forming the rice cakes.  Prepare two shallow bowls, one with  2 eggs, beaten, and the other bowl with the breadcrumbs.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work counter to place the rice cakes on to rest.
  2. Mix the rice, 1 cup of corn, the other beaten egg, and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.  Divide the rice mixture into 4 or 6 equal balls, and press each ball firmly together.  Gently flatten to form a patty.  First cover the rice cake with egg, and then pass to the breadcrumb bowl and cover both sides.  Lay on the parchment paper to rest.
  3. Prepare the succotash:  Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium high heat.  Add the remaining corn, zucchini, onion, and beans, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauce until the onion is translucent, and the other vegetables are crisp tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Add the water, tomatoes, and parsley and let simmer until the broth has reduced by half.  Reduce heat to low, add butter and stir until a thin sauce develops.  Let the succotash stay warm on low heat while pan frying the rice cakes.
  5. To pan-fry the rice cakes, coat another sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add the rice cakes, 2-3 at a time, and fry on each side until golden brown.  To serve, place a rice cake on the plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the succotash.

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Sweet Potato Egg Rolls With Love

sweet potato egg rolls 1

I remember the very first egg roll I ever had.

I was raised by a single mama who worked and went to school; we didn’t have a lot of splurges.  I was 12 or 13, maybe 14, and my mom dropped me off at the mall.  I don’t remember why–maybe she was doing something at school, and the mall was nearby.  Anyway, I had some time to walk around by myself, window shop.  I got hungry, and I thought I’d just wait until I got home, when it finally occurred to me that I could buy something for myself!  I looked around at my options and an Asian place looked the best to me.  I didn’t have enough babysitting money for a full meal, but I did have .99 cents plus tax for an egg roll.

The egg roll was hot, amazingly crispy and crunchy on the outside, melty and sweet, sour, salty on the inside.  I’d never had anything like it, and instantly loved it!  Mind you, fries, chicken nuggets, and eating out in general were not on our usual list of things to do.  Egg rolls quickly made it to the top of my most wanted list, and I got one every chance I had from then on!  The problem is that every subsequent egg roll wasn’t nearly as good as that first one.  They were dry, stale, had bland filling, or very little filling in ratio to fried wrapper–you name it, egg rolls fell off my list as soon as they went on.

Then I decided to try my hand at them.  I had some leftover sweet potatoes and rice noodles and thought that would make a great base for some additional veggies.  They turned out sweet, fresh, citrusy, and crispy crunchy!  The sweet potato mix did make the wraps soften the longer they sat, so eat them right away, or just reheat them in the oven to crisp them up a bit.

A little flavor…

sweet potato eggroll ingredients

Some veggies…

sweet potato eggroll veggies

Assembly line magic…

sweet potato eggroll assembly line

sweet potato eggroll wrap up

And a spicy soy dipping sauce and coconut cilantro rice on the side…

sweet potato egg rolls 3

sweet potato egg rolls 2


 

SWEET POTATO VEGGIE EGG ROLLS

  • Servings: makes one full pack of large square egg roll wrappers
  • Time: 30-45 minutes if you have leftover baked sweet potatoes, add an extra hour if you need to bake the sweet potato
  • Difficulty: medium-ish
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 baked sweet potato, peeled and mashed
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper, about 2 inches in length
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced snow peas, about 2 inches in length
  • 1/2 cup peeled carrot (peel the carrot stick, then just keep on peeling), about 2 inches in length
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallion, sliced on the diagonal, about 2 inches in length
  • 1 package large square egg roll wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten

INGREDIENTS FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste (more if you want more heat)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix the first seven ingredients (the sweet potato through salt and pepper) in a bowl, mix well.
  2. Set up the assembly line:  Bowl of sweet potato mixture, bowl of rice noodles, plate of sliced veggies, egg roll wraps, and beaten egg.
  3. Place a wrapper on the diagonal on the plate.  First scoop 3 teaspoons of sweet potato mixture and place in the center of the wrap.  Layer with 1/4 cup rice noodles and a few slices of each veggie.
  4. Brush the edges of the wrap with the beaten egg.  First fold the bottom triangle over the veggies, then fold the two side triangles and roll.  You may need to seal the final triangle edge with a little more egg wash.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Heat 4 inches of canola oil in a pot to 365F.  Fry each egg roll until golden brown on each side.
  6. Stir together all the dipping ingredients and serve with the egg rolls.

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What Do I Do With ALL THOSE BEANS??!!

Scenario 1: You purchase a bean mix, thinking you’ll make a great batch of chili with it, and soup, and maybe…something else (it’ll come to you later)…then….it just sits in your cupboard until next year’s chili season.  And every time you open your pantry door, you see that huge container of mixed beans, still three-quarters or seven-eighths full, and feel a little guiltier each time you see it.  “What do I do with ALL THOSE BEANS??!!”  You ask yourself every.time.you.open.the.pantry.

Scenario 2: You were using those beans to make a large pot of Tomato Bean Chili for a multi-family chili pot luck, so you followed the container instructions and soaked a BUNCH of beans overnight, thinking you’d make two huge batches of chili.  You always forget how far beans go!  Sure, it was great to use up over half the container of beans, but you only used a third of those soaked/pre-cooked beans in the chili.  So now you have a bunch ready-to-use beans for….?

Meatless Main to the RESCUE!  Here are three recipes for the price of one bean:  Tomato Bean Chili, Full O’ Beans Shepherd’s Pie, and Beanie-Veggie Burgers!

My bean mix is from Epicurean Specialty, and includes dried kidney, white, pinto, and black beans, split yellow and green peas, and lentils.  I love this mix!  It’s hearty, versatile, warm, and as you’ll see, works great in more than just soup or chili!

bean mix chili


TOMATO BEAN CHILI

  • Servings: One Large Pot, about 6-8
  • Time: Overnight bean soak, 2-3 hours cook time
  • Difficulty: medium, for time
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups dried bean mix
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeds and ribs removed, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried wheat berries {or farro, barley, or other whole grain of choice}
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2(two) 8 oz cans tomato paste
  • 2(two) 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 limes, squeezed
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the beans:  Soak beans in three times their volume of cold water at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain.  Pre-cook the beans according to package directions:  Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, parsley, and fresh water, roughly double the volume of beans.  Bring water to a simmer and cook beans, uncovered, until tender, approximately 1.5-2 hours.  Drain.
  2. For the chili:  Coat bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Sauté the poblano peppers, whole grain of choice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the pre-cooked beans, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and lime juice and let cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, minus the vegetable stock, and continue to stir and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  Now add the vegetable stock, allow to come to a boil, and reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least one hour, adding water as needed.  Test the beans for doneness, and continue to simmer as needed until the beans are creamy and the chili has come together, another 30-60 minutes.  Add water or stock as needed for desired consistency.
  5. Serve with chopped red onion, cilantro, green onions, and any other favorite chili toppings.

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On to the Full O’ Beans Shepherd’s Pie.  This is so hearty and warm–and topped with smashed sweet potatoes adds the perfect amount of subtle sweetness.  {I usually add a sweet potato to my regular potatoes if I’m making mashed potatoes–it adds more flavor, nutrients, and a fun orange color!}

bean mix shepherds pie 1

bean mix shepherds pie 2

bean mix shepherds pie 3


 

FULL O' BEANS SHEPHERD'S PIE

  • Servings: Makes One 9-inch or 1-Quart Baking Dish, serving 4-6
  • Time: Overnight bean soak, 2-3 hours cook time
  • Difficulty: medium, for time
  • Print

This is a snap to pull together if you have about 3 cups pre-cooked beans ready to go.  If you are busy during the week, soak and pre-cook your beans over the weekend, and just pull them out of the fridge to throw this together and heat up for dinner.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEANS:

  • 1 cups dried bean mix
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal and set aside
  • 1/2 cup barley, farro, wheat berries, or other whole grain of choice, cooked and set aside

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SMASHED POTATOES:

  • 2 medium potatoes (any variety is fine), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped

INGREDIENTS FOR THE GRAVY:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2-2 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the beans:  Soak beans in three times their volume of cold water at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain.  Pre-cook the beans according to package directions:  Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, parsley, and fresh water, roughly double the volume of beans.  Bring water to a simmer and cook beans, uncovered, until tender, approximately 1.5-2 hours.  Drain any extra cooking liquid.
  2. Stir in the whole grain of choice with the beans in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. For the smashed potatoes: Put the chopped potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with two inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Reserve about 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain the rest, and put the potatoes back in the pot.  Roughly smash the potatoes with a smasher, fork, or spoon, adding the cooking liquid as you need.  You can also add a dollop of butter, vegan butter, sour scream, kefir, or any other potato-enhancing ingredient to your smashed potatoes.  Set aside.
  4. For the gravy: In a small sauce pan, heat the oil or butter over medium heat, then add the flour, whisking the entire time to incorporate and “cook” the flour.  Once it’s bubbling, add the vegetable stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Continue to stir until the gravy thickens and comes together.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  6. For assembly and bake: Spoon the bean/whole grain mixture into a greased casserole dish.  Next evenly layer the carrots on top of the beans and pour the gravy over the carrots and beans.  Spoon the smashed potatoes on top.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes, until gravy is deliciously bubbly and smashed potatoes have crispy golden tips.

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Last but not least:  the Beanie-Veggie Burger.  Who doesn’t love a burger, right?!  The beans make a great base for any of your favorite additions.  I used 1/2 cup leftover cooked barley, chopped walnuts, fresh parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and ground flax seed as a binder.

bean mix veggie burgers 1

bean mix veggie burgers 2

I had {believe it or not} 6 cups of leftover beans to use for burgers, even after using a ton of beans for that pot luck chili dinner, and about three cups of beans I used for the Shepherd’s Pie.  I think I initially soaked 6 cups of beans, and used that huge pot of pre-cooked beans in all three recipes!  Dried beans go a loooooooong way!!

Back to the burgers…using 6 cups of smashed beans will make 9 burgers, using a #6 {about 3.5oz} cookie/ice cream scooper.  I cooked a few up for dinner, and froze the rest to cook up for a quick weeknight dinner later.  They were amazingly burger-iffic.

bean mix veggie burgers 3bean mix veggie burgers 4


 

BEANIE-VEGGIE BURGERS

  • Servings: makes 9 burgers
  • Time: Overnight bean soak, 1-2 hours to pre-cook the beans, then about 20 minutes to pull together the burgers
  • Difficulty: medium, for time
  • Print

This is a snap to pull together if you have about 6 cups pre-cooked beans ready to go.  If you are busy during the week, soak and pre-cook your beans over the weekend, and just pull them out of the fridge to throw this together and heat up for dinner.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEANS:

  • 2 1/2 cups dried bean mix
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BURGERS:

  • 6 cups precooked beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked barley {or farro, wheat berries, or another whole grain of choice}
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the beans:  Soak beans in three times their volume of cold water at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain.  Pre-cook the beans according to package directions:  Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, parsley, and fresh water, roughly double the volume of beans.  Bring water to a simmer and cook beans, uncovered, until tender, approximately 1.5-2 hours.  Drain any extra cooking liquid.
  2. Spoon half of the pre-cooked bean mix into a blender and pulse until the consistency of guacamole, sort of chunky-smooth.  Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining whole beans and the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until well mixed and fully incorporated.  Let rest for a few minutes.
  3. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper.  Using a scooper to ensure equal-sized patties, scoop bean mixture and form into patties.  The mixture will be wet; press well to keep the mixture together and well-formed.  If you use a #6 {about 3.5 oz} scooper, you will make 9 patties.  Let rest to help bind everything together before cooking or freezing.
  4. These are great cooked in a skillet, indoor/outdoor grill, etc.  Without any meat or eggs, you just need to heat through and get a crispy exterior, about 5-7 minutes on each side.  Serve with your favorite burger toppings!

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There Are Some Things You Just Have To Do Yourself

There are some things you just have to do yourself.  You know, like when the cheapest hardscaping bid comes in three times over budget.  It’s in that moment that you and your husband look at each other,  shrug, and say, “Well, I guess we’re gonna do this.”  This is my apology and excuse for the blog-neglect.  We have been spending the last two weeks turning our backyard from a sandpit into a hardscaped wonder.  {See exhibits A and B, C, D}

20151029_112946 20151109_171314 20151113_173925 20151116_101440I’ve pretty much neglected everything.  {Except the dishes.  And throwing fruit snacks at my kids.  I have standards.}  We aren’t done yet…but we are thinking maybe one more weekend of hitting it hard.  And then we can go back to our normal routine.  {And I will cook again, instead of pulling frozen leftovers from the deep corners of the freezer.}

So back to other things you should do yourself…

I can count on one hand the number of times my mom bought pizza growing up.  Or bought any “store-bought” foodstuff, for that matter.  I remember once begging for chicken nuggets from a fast food place, and she went ahead and made her own batter-covered chicken breast chunks and fried them up for us for dinner.  “Store-bought” cookies and 2% milk were a treat only at a friend’s house–“Cookies?!  We can make those at home!”  My mom would always announce, walking us straight past the cookie aisle in the grocery store, and over to the 10 cent fruit roll-ups we were allowed as our treat.  And as far as milk was concerned, “Whisking milk” was on the monthly chore list…we grew up making and drinking the more cost-effective powder milk.

Is it any surprise that I have culinarily turned into my mom.  {Is it any daughter’s surprise, really?!}  Today, I would only go near a fast food place by necessity–and by necessity, I mean we’ve been hardscaping for hours on end and my boys are melting down; when my boys ask to buy a treat at the store, I turn my nose up and say, “Nah…we can make that at home!”  One difference is we drink almond milk, not powdered milk.

And pizza?  Pizza is best homemade.  Unless you are in Italy, of course.  Then always go out.  If you’re staying in, do my mom’s favorite toppings–she calls it Cupboard Pizza.  Unload whatever leftovers or cupboard surprises you have, throw on some cheese, and you’ve got a good dinner.  I don’t think I’m even going to post a recipe here, to be honest.  Use your fav pizza dough recipe, and fav red sauce, and top with your cupboard surprises…{I’ll post my fav pizza dough and red sauce recipes as other posts later.}

My leftovers?  Why, pumpkin, of course.  I had some leftover roasted pumpkin from pasta, and some leftover maple-roasted pumpkin from the salad.  I love these colors–very deep and autumn-ish.

pumpkin pizza 1

Before the bake

pumpkin pizza 2

After the bake

pumpkin pizza 4

 

Quinoa Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers

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{Recipe + Photo featured in LDS Living Sept/Oct 2016 Issue}

This is a double whammy of a dinner–It’s a Leftover meal as well as a Pumpkin meal!  I had a ton of leftover quinoa from those Cilantro Orange Quinoa Tacos, and thought they would transform perfectly into a quinoa black bean PUMPKIN burger.  Boy was I right!  The extra flavor from orange and cilantro made an amazingly fresh burger, played nicely with the sweet nuggets of roasted pumpkin, and the quinoa developed a toasty, nutty flavor from cooking in the skillet.  This made a perfect fall dinner!

For these burgers, I used a regular orange pumpkin, nothing special, easily found in any patch.  This one was definitely harder to cut and peel than the cinderella pumpkin–acting just like a “normal” winter squash.  Peel and clean, and then dice up your pumpkin to pan-roast.

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 2

I had 6 cups of quinoa, so the recipe reflects that amount.  With 6 cups of quinoa, I used 4 cups of diced pumpkin.  This made 7-8 burgers (based on how much you’re scooping); I cooked 4 to eat that night, and I froze the rest of the patties .

Hi, my name is Michal, and I have a proportion problem:  I ALWAYS cook more food than we eat that night for dinner.  I either need to have more kids, or learn how to reduce cooking amounts.  In the meantime, good things I transform leftovers into new yummy meals, or freeze the rest for quick weeknight dinners later.

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 3 leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 4

Just mix up the quinoa, pan-roasted pumpkin, bread crumbs, and eggs, and form your burgers in equal-sized patties.  If you want to keep it vegan, substitute ground flax seed and water (see recipe).  So easy.

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 5

And so delicious.

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 6


QUINOA PUMPKIN BLACK BEAN BURGERS

  • Servings: makes 7-8 burgers
  • Time: 20 mins tops, if you've got the quinoa ready to go
  • Difficulty: super easy, especially if you have leftover quinoa
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE CILANTRO ORANGE QUINOA
(Just in case you don’t have leftovers)

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2-1 whole jalapeño pepper (depending on the heat you like), seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1 cup rainbow or red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Juice from the same orange, and enough water added to equal 2 1/4 cups total
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BURGERS

  • 6 cups cooked cilantro orange black bean quinoa
  • 4 cups pumpkin, diced
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten (for vegan version, mix 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 2 tablespoons water to equal one egg)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook the cilantro orange quinoa, if you don’t have leftovers.  Coat the bottom of a medium pot with olive oil and heat to medium.  Saute the onion, garlic, and jalapeño until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the quinoa and saute until it is dry and slightly toasty.  Add the orange “stock”, zest, and cilantro.  Let come to a boil and then turn down the heat to low and cover the pot.  Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the stock has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through.  You’ll know the quinoa is done when the seed has turned sort of translucent.
  2. When the quinoa is done cooking, turn off the heat, add the black beans, and stir.  Cover and let rest.
  3. If you already have leftover quinoa, start on this step to make your burgers.  Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium to medium-high heat.  Add your diced pumpkin and salt and pepper to taste and saute until the pumpkin is golden and toasty.
  4. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper to place your burgers on while they are waiting to be cooked.
  5. Add the quinoa, pan-roasted pumpkin, breadcrumbs, and eggs in a large bowl, and stir until well combined.  For easy, same-size burger patties, I use a #6 scoop.  Scoop the quinoa pumpkin mixture, and press firmly into a tight ball, then gently flatten on the cookie sheet.  Even with the bread crumbs and eggs as binding, these burgers are a little delicate.  They will firm up as you let them rest on the cookie sheet, or putting in the fridge for a few minutes will also help.
  6. Coat a large skillet with olive oil (you can use the same skillet you used to pan-roast your diced pumpkin) and heat over medium heat.  Cook 4 burgers at a time, browning each side, about 5-7 minutes total.  Serve with toasted hamburger buns, and fav burger toppings of choice.

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Leftovers 101

If you often have leftover rice, noodles, or polenta like I do, and you would rather forego the bland-nuked-next-day meal, I am creating a new category:  LEFTOVERS!  Welcome to turning yesterday’s meal into today’s 2.0 dinner.

Today’s Leftover post:  Polenta.  Remember those enormous grilled polenta squares?  I made a cake pan of polenta and used two huge squares for the grilled meal, and had two more leftover.  I cut those squares into four smaller squares, totaling 8, pan-fried them, and decided to go with a Moroccan topper.  I’ll be honest, I love the fragrant, warm and deep Moroccan flavors, but it isn’t something I can simply throw together, so I definitely needed some help.  The Moroccan Rice Pilaf recipe is from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home Cookbook, and the Spiced Cauliflower is from the Better Homes & Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good Magazine (Do you get sucked into those check-out counter grocery store magazines as quickly as I do?)

Assembly line prep makes for quick and easy fried polenta squares!  Crispy and crunchy on the outside, cloud-soft and dreamy-creamy on the inside.

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All you need is a little flavor added to your leftover rice, and you have a whole new meal.

pan fried polenta moroccan rice ingredients

Pile high, and enjoy!

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{I am going to post three separate recipes for each of the different leftover components}


PAN-FRIED POLENTA SQUARES

  • Servings: 4, plan on 2 squares per person
  • Time: 10-15 mins (you are using leftovers, remember)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • Leftover polenta that has been formed and cooled in a square cake pan (just a head’s up, you need to cut the polenta into small squares)
  • 1 cup flour, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut the polenta into 8 small squares and place on a paper towel to soak up any extra liquid.  Using another paper towel, dab the tops of your squares to make sure they are extra dry.
  2. While the polenta squares are resting on the paper towel, prepare three separate shallow bowls, one with the seasoned flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the seasoned Panko bread crumbs.  (You can use the plain Italian bread crumbs instead of panko, if you’d like, I just love pan-frying with panko because I personally feel like it yields a crispier texture.)
  3. One square at a time, coat all sides with the flour, then move to the egg and coat completely with the egg, then move to the bread crumbs and coat all sides.  After coating, let rest on a cooling rack until all your squares are coated and ready to fry.
  4. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Pan-fry four squares at a time, flipping when they are golden brown.  Brown the other side.  You can serve with the recommended Moroccan rice and spiced cauliflower, or a simple side of marinara sauce.

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RICE PILAF WITH DATES AND ALMONDS

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 25 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe courtesy Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover brown, white, or basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped and toasted

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot or skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper with salt and pepper to taste until they are just tender.  Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice or nutmeg, and dates.  Let the spices heat until you can smell them, about 30-60 seconds.  Add the rice, parsley, and water.  Heat through and stir in the toasted almonds.

SPICED CAULIFLOWER

  • Servings: 4 one cup servings
  • Time: 20 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe courtesy Better Homes and Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 head cauliflower florets, trimmed
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup water

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl combine mustard, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper; set aside.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add cauliflower and cook and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add sweet pepper and green onions, cook for another minute or two.  Reduce heat to medium and add the mustard spice mixture.  Cook and stir until you can smell the spices, about 30-60 seconds.  Stir in the water and let everything come together.

The Best Croutons in the World

If I ever have leftover rice or risotto, it *always* gets turned into arancini (ah-ran-cheen-ee): fried Italian rice balls, crispy on the outside, creamy rice on the inside and a melty cheese surprise right in the middle.  And since I usually load up my risotto with veggies, they’re in the rice ball party, too.  Although this may be sacrilege for hardcore risotto foodies out there,  I prefer using leftover risotto because it’s already sort of sticky and gummy and holds its shape really well in ball form.  If you don’t have leftover risotto, you can use any leftover rice, or cook up some of your own.

arancini assembly

 

There’s a small time expenditure getting the rice balls ready along the assembly line (I always keep power tools at the end, just in case any of those arancini get a little rowdy), but it’s worth it, and once everything is ready, the frying only takes a few minutes.  For these particular arancini, I used leftover risotto with roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

arancini

 

Arancini are traditionally served with a side of marinara for dipping, but I have come to like serving them on top of a salad–they’re the best croutons in the world!  This salad was a pre-packaged kale salad with yogurt curry dressing I found in Costco.  I usually make at least a dozen or more at a time (if I’m heating up a whole pot of oil, I better make it worth its weight in gold!)–they freeze really well and reheat crisp-perfectly.


ARANCINI

  • Servings: enough for a party
  • Time: 20-30 mins
  • Difficulty: medium, for time expenditure with assembly
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This recipe is adapted from Kelly Senyei’s Arancini recipe.  Part of my adaptation is using leftover risotto, so this recipe reflects “leftovers”.  If you don’t have leftovers, cook up some rice to use–Kelly does a great job explaining which rice works best.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups leftover vegetable risotto
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12-15 one-inch squares of cheese.  {I have used fresh mozzarella, “Babybel” circles cut in fourths, a bunch of muenster cheese sandwich slices stacked and cut–whatever I have on hand, and they’ve all worked out just fine}
  • For the assembly line, have a shallow dish ready with 4 beaten eggs, and another shallow dish ready with 2 cups panko breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon italian seasoning and a couple shakes of salt and pepper, and a cookie sheet prepped with a sheet of parchment paper.  The arancini will rest here after forming into balls and before going to the fryer.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare a large pot with four inches of oil, place over medium heat.  Use a pot thermometer to ensure the oil reaches 375, not too hot or it will smoke and burn your arancini, and not too cool, or the arancini will be heavy and dense and full of oil, not light and crispy.
  2. Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Assembly line:  I use a #40 cookie scoop (it measures to about 1.5 tablespoons), scoop one scoop of the rice mixture in your hand, place a square of cheese, then top with another scoop of rice and form into a ball.  Next, roll the rice ball in the beaten eggs until all sides are covered, and then roll around in the seasoned breadcrumbs.  Feel free to squeeze the rice ball in cupped hands to make sure it’s stable, and place on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.  Continue forming the arancini until the rice mixture is gone.  Watch the oil while you are making the arancini so it doesn’t get too hot.  If the oil reaches 375 while you are still assembling, go ahead and start frying.  You’ll get the rhythm.
  4. Once the oil is ready, carefully drop 3-4 balls at a time in the oil to fry.  Roll them around in the oil using a slotted spoon or a wire-mesh spider, and pull out of the oil when they are golden brown, usually 3-4 minutes does the trick.  Have a cooling rack ready on the counter with paper towels under it to catch any dripping oil, and keep the arancini on the cooling rack–they’ll stay crispier there than a cookie sheet.
  5. Serve warm, with a salad (preferred!), or with a side of marinara.  Once they are completely cooled, you can put them in a gallon freezer bag, label with the date, and freeze for future devouring.

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