Thursday, July 14, 2011

Work With What Ya Got!

There are some weeks when I just can't seem to drag myself to the supermarket. This has been one of those weeks. I think it's a combination of just not wanting to go to the store with a toddler, and also, not wanting to be tied to a refrigerator full of food during this beautiful, hot weather. During the summer, I like the freedom to just eat whatever or to make last-minute plans to eat out somewhere.

This freedom comes with a cost, though...and that cost is not having a lot of fresh ingredients on hand. I am happy to report, though, that for the last two nights, I have pulled together two really delicious and nutritious dinners without a whole lot of effort. Score!

Last night, I made one of our favorite meals, the Warm Potato Spinach Salad with Pine Nut Dressing from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. I had to make a couple of substitutions (jarred roasted red pepper for the fresh red pepper, red potatoes for the new potatoes), but the salad was as delicious as ever. It's one of our favorite summer meals and I was so pleased to be able to pull this one out of my hat without a lot of fresh ingredients! The only fresh items I used were the potatoes, baby spinach, basil, and some chopped cucumber (cucumber is not part of the recipe, but I wanted to add some crunchy texture to make up for the lack of fresh pepper). The other ingredients were from the pantry - pine nuts, artichoke hearts, kalamata & green olives, and chickpeas (again, not part of the recipe, but I wanted to add some protein). Look how yummy this is!

 We ate outside on our patio and enjoyed the beautiful summer evening!
At four o'clock this afternoon, I literally had no idea what to make for dinner. I was debating whether to pull some frozen ravioli or Trader Joe's meatless meatballs out of the freezer, but I wasn't super excited about that idea. I decide to pull out my trusty Appetite for Reduction and see if there was anything easy I could make. I didn't have to look any further than the first recipe: Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Isa says this recipe is "forever customizable," and she is totally right. I made two substitutions - baby spinach for the romaine lettuce, and fava beans for the chickpeas - and also added some shredded carrot, chopped celery, and chopped cucumber. This salad took almost no time at all and it was INCREDIBLE!! The balsamic vinaigrette recipe is a winner - it is cashew-based and totally creamy and delicious.

I think food just tastes better when eaten al fresco. Don't you agree?

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