There's nothing in the kitchen I like more than relaxing with a slew of fresh produce, a glass of wine, and a brand new recipe. But I have to admit, I often feel more accomplished when I fashion something on-the-fly using the odds and ends left over in my fridge - especially during those moments when there's no time for that glass of wine. Here are two recent examples:
The Need: Substantial side dish that could also stand alone as a hearty lunch the next day
The Solution: Stuffed peppers
We nearly always have red bell peppers on hand, and on this night had the remains of the last farmer's market run in the fridge with them: onion, tomato, lots of fresh herbs, and squash and zucchini. I decided to use 'em all, and did. Everything was diced except for the squash and zucchini, which I grated instead to mix up the textures (I will totally be one of those moms who can hide vegetables from her children if necessary, I have no doubt). I mixed the veggies up with some olive oil, seasoning, and a handful of herbs, combined with cooked wild rice, and I think I stirred in some fresh feta, too. Plop the tops back on those babies and bake. Done! (And then the fridge really was empty.)
The Need: A substantial breakfast that wasn't bread, grits/oatmeal, or an omelet (we were feeling picky)
The Solution: Frittata
We really had barely anything fresh left that morning - not even good-melting cheese (a major shocker for this cheese nut) - but we did have eggs. A frittata is often the perfect solution for this kind of morning. Again, the basics sufficed - we had one red bell pepper, a red onion, a couple of basil leaves, and the end of a parmigiano-reggiano slab. I cooked onion and pepper in a large pan, poured 7 beaten, seasoned eggs that had been combined with julienned basil over top of them, covered with a 1/2 cup or so of freshly grated parm, and let it set in the pan over medium heat. This is as basic a frittata recipe as you can get, adapted from Mark Bittman - for this amount, I might've gone with a smaller pan for a thicker frittata instead, but this worked well, too. I love frittatas because you can vary the basic recipe based on what you have on hand. Go Greek with tomatoes, fresh oregano, and feta. Or go just plain Yum with spinach and goat cheese. Really, anything will do. Delicious, with plenty for lunch the next day, too.