Every once in a while, usually towards the end of the month, or after serious holiday feasts, I do a “reconnaissance mission” through our refrigerators, freezers and pantry and try to use up odds and ends. I like to refer to these meals as “vacuum cleaner” meals, sucking out leftovers, miscellaneous food items, pairing them with staples, and creating meals that help us clean up the supplies and be as efficient as possible about our food stocks, which are typically rather voluminous when compared to most households… I think this is how many folks actually cook, not necessarily with all of the stated ingredients in a recipe, but improvising based on their tastes and supplies on hand. So here is what we had for Sunday lunch…
The main feature for the yesterday’s lunch was a platter with several types of grilled sausages. We found half a kielbasa, some sweet Italian sausages and frankfurters in the freezer, and we decided to grill these on the barbecue. We also served several salads, the first a composed salad with some crisp romaine leaves, some blanched and chilled pencil thin asparagus, a head of broccoli and some ripe tomatoes. We also threw in the remaining fourth of a package of blue cheese that was beginning to take on a life of its own in the back of the fridge. This was served with a simple vinaigrette.
I also found two singkamas (jicama) and a mandarin orange and some grapes so I shredded a whole large carrot, added shredded singkamas, the juice of the orange, some grapes and a touch of salt and let this chill for an hour or two. This was a crunchy, refreshing salad with a hint of natural acidity and sweetness… not brilliant, but an effective vacuum cleaner type dish.
Next I found 4 roasted beets, still in the foil wrapper, that I forgot about a day or two before and which were now in the fridge. I made a simple beet salad by peeling the beets, adding a half of a small red onion and dressing this with champagne vinegar, a touch of sugar and some freshly ground pepper. This is best if made a day before you eat it, but a couple of hours of marinating in the dressing is sufficient.
We needed a starch to go with the sausages, so with two small packages of baby or new potatoes, I made a warm potato salad. First boil the potatoes for say 20 minutes until soft, then drain and slice in half. In a pan, saute, some pancetta (we had three slices in the freezer), a sliced onion, some sliced leeks and a little olive oil. When this is soft and cooked, add the potatoes, lots of salt and pepper and drizzle with sherry vinegar and turn off the heat. The hot potatoes should absorb a lot of the dressing and this is best when served still warm…
We had invited a friend to lunch, but a flight delay meant that she eventually missed the lunch and luckily, she lives just down the road from us so we sent a tray with a complete meal, including a slice of homemade apple pie for dessert, so she had something to eat when she got home. Hmmm, now what do we do with the leftovers from the vacuum lunch??