Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vegetable Bits and Pieces

After a long week of work and school, I have random pieces of this and that in my fridge - nothing large enough to make a sizable dish on its own.  I took everything out of the vegetable bins - pitched a couple unidentifiable slimers found in tiny tupperware and baggies - and surveyed the fresh bits and pieces waiting for inspiration.

Earlier this morning I sat beside a nice couple at my son's basketball game.  They were having a conversation about preparing healthy meals for the next 30 days.  I couldn't help myself and joined in their conversation.  Before too long I was sharing a recipe and they were telling me about preparing a delicious kale salad.  With a few stalks of kale on the counter in front of me, my mind was made up - chopped vegetable salad for lunch!

Chopped Vegetable Salad
A couple stalks of curly kale (I had intended to sauté or make chips with them, but we ended up giving the guinea pigs half the bunch during the week), 1/2 a bunch of parsley (I love tabouli, so all of that went in), 1/8 of a small head of red cabbage, 1/4 orange bell pepper, 1 "vine-ripened" tomato, 1 tablespoon of sweet onion, beets, 1/2 a medium zucchini, and a lime that really needed to be used.  I minced the onion and parsley, chopped everything else (excluding the lime) fairly small and tossed everything together in a large bowl.  I had small amounts of 2 vinaigrettes - just basic vinaigrettes - one made with balsamic vinegar and one with apple cider vinegar and fresh thyme.  Together they made a terrific dressing for the chopped salad.

Those bits and pieces made A LOT - too much for lunch - I used about 1/3 of the chopped vegetables for the salad.  What to do with the rest was easy…save it.

Save your bits and pieces - advice from my own mama.  When I was growing up my mother always kept a Cool Whip container (the Cool Whip had long since been eaten) in the freezer.  Every time we had a spoonful of vegetables leftover from dinner - usually too small for a decent portion, Mom would throw them in the Cool Whip Container and place it back in the freezer.  When the container became full, it was time to work her magic - homemade vegetable soup; sometimes homemade beef vegetable soup.

That soup - either kind - was delicious and I can remember how proud I was for wanting more vegetable soup - how healthy I was!  As I grew, my preferences changed and I can remember crushing crackers in the soup at times and very often during my teens dumping loads of cheddar cheese on top; my mom's homemade croutons were also a delicious addition.

The Cool Whip-vegetable soup tradition continues in my home, minus the Cool Whip container.  Currently I'm using a 2-quart plastic tub you can purchase at the grocery store beside the resealable bags.  I put tiny vegetable leftovers in there, the last splash of stock, a dab of tomato sauce, the liquid left after steaming vegetables, etc.

1/3 of the chopped salad (minus the dressing) went in the soup container

The last 1/3 went into a container in the fridge - I'll probably sauté it and use it in an omelet tomorrow morning.

My vegetable bins are clean and ready for a new supply this weekend, my soup container is almost full, lunch was spectacular and I'm looking forward to that omelet.  Not bad for the bottom of the vegetable bin!

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