Dinner in a Flash: More Mid-Week Meals Maximized with Leftovers

Some nights the only rule at Cafe Drake HRV is . . . Get It On the Plate! Leftover yellow rice can be reheated quickly, along with slow-cooked pinto beans. When preparing dried beans from scratch, always make a large pot and plan on sneaking the legumes into soups, stews, burritos, chili and more through the week. Stored in the fridge, cooked beans keep well for 4-5 days. Above. we also enjoyed guacamole, a green salad, tomato soup and leftover roasted cabbage, another dish that should be made in large amounts. One large head of cabbage, roasted in the oven, should supply enough for: 1) a substantial side dish for 2 hungry diners  2) a big pot of cabbage soup (cut the cabbage in bite-sized chunks and simmer with canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, an onion and some fresh or dried dill 3) an entree of vegetable wontons (shred the remaining cooked cabbage very finely, mix with minced water chestnuts, slivered scallions, garlic, ginger, a little mashed tofu, tamari or soy sauce and finely chopped cilantro and stuff inside wonton wrappers. Bake or boil. Here's our recipe for baked wontons. 

Roasted vegetables of all sorts are kitchen constants at Cafe Drake HRV and a variety of seasonings and flavor profiles keeps boredom at bay. An old favorite that always feels fresh and welcome is Roasted Eggplant with Middle Eastern Spices. Simply cut eggplants in half lengthwise and place on a baking sheet, cut side facing up. If you wish you can make diagonal cuts across the surface to create a diamond effect (see above). Brush the tops of the eggplants with a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, dried or fresh thyme leaves, cumin powder, smoked paprika and sesame seeds. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven or until the eggplant is browned and very soft.

Why not roast alongside the eggplant a few long hot peppers as well, the kind often served with Mixed Grill entrees at Middle Eastern restaurants? Make a large batch and add the spicy peppers to soups, sandwiches and pasta dinners through out the week.

It's the time of year when cardoon begins to show up regularly in the markets. A close cousin of the artichoke and with a similar taste, cardoon is, while delicious, a high maintenance veggie.

If you're going to the trouble to wash, peel and blanch cardoon, be sure to do two bunches at once. Use half for a gratin and toss the remaining cooked stalks in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and salt. Check out our November 2014 post for the Cardoon Gratin recipe and complete instructions on preparing this novel veggie.

Cassoulet may be the ultimate in winter comfort food but the traditional preparation of this French farm house classic involves several hours of slow cooking in the oven and an arsenal of sausage, duck confit and organ meats. Based upon several cookbook and internet recipes, our version cooks in a fraction of the original's time, is just as rich and flavorful and completely vegan. Plus it's an ideal way of using up random bits in your produce drawer! Begin adding to a large baking sheet 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1 cup peeled and diced carrots, 2 cups peeled and diced celery root, 1 cup peeled and diced turnips and 1 large red new potato (also, you guessed it, peeled and diced). Drizzle with 2 T. olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste and a large pinch or two of ground nutmeg. Bake the veggies at 400 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately pour on the vegetables 1/4 cup dry white wine and 2 T. brandy. The alcohol should sizzle and be mostly absorbed by the veggies. Stir to mix and transfer to a medium-sized casserole dish. Add to the casserole 1 can rinsed and drained small white Navy beans, 1 cup vegetable stock, 1 t. dried sage, 1 t. dried thyme leaves and 2 t. tomato paste. Mix well, being careful not to allow the contents to spill over the sides of your dish. Now, sprinkle the entire surface with whole wheat dry bread crumbs and then drizzle generously with more olive oil. Return to the oven and bake for around 10 minutes at the same temperature - 400 degrees F. When ready, the cassoulet should be moist but not too liquidy and the bread crumbs deeply toasted but not burned.

If you have good bread, a jar of roasted red peppers, a red onion and an avocado in the house then you have the fixings for a superb sandwich!

At Cafe Drake HRV sandwiches are sided with whatever salads may be found lurking in the fridge. Above, sandwich with mesclun salad, guacamole and creamy coleslaw with carrots and pumpkin seeds.

We made A LOT more Hoppin' John Stew for New Year' Eve 2015/16 than we could finish in a couple of days; the leftovers that didn't get reheated or spread inside quesadillas were frozen in individual portions, perfect for reheating a moment's notice.

Doubling a recipe for any sort of veggie burger leaves you with at least two options, either fry or bake them all and then freeze between squares of wax paper in a freezer bag OR keep the uncooked mixture tightly covered in the fridge for up to 3 days, ready to go when you're ready to fry! Grab our recipe RIGHT HERE for the delectable Beet and Bulgar Burgers pictured above.


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