Thrown Together

by Sarah on December 21, 2011 · 20 comments

When you come back home for a visit (short or extended), and your eating habits and restrictions have changed, or at occasional odds, with what’s being served, you may find yourself having to throw together* some meals rather quickly and with whatever is on hand.
*I love this expression by the way. It evokes so much chaotic fun.

Considering that’s kind of how I normally operate in the kitchen on a daily basis anyway, this spontaneous cookery hasn’t caused me too much stress or anxiety. In fact, some of the food I’ve concocted ‘on the fly’^ or with no clear plan has been downright delicious.
^Funny expression, no? What if we actually cooked on the back of a fly?

Breakfast bowls of oats always start off with a similar composition of oats, oat bran, and lots of water and/or almond milk, simmered slowly for creaminess. A stir of flax or chia seeds, or perhaps some wheat germ, are usually stirred in for good measure, but as for what’s on top?
That’s a game of “what can I find in the fridge or the pantry that might be fun on these oats?”

Sometimes that means apples, dried figs, and peanut butter.
Sometimes that means persimmon chunks AND goo, almond butter and…cookies.Isn’t food more fun when it smiles back?*

*And isn’t actually alive of course.Throughout the day, I’m cooking and creating new recipes for posts and cookie swaps and other such craziness, so I end up throwing together snacks for myself in between nibbles of everything I’m making.
[Sometimes even the cookies I’m making are the epitome of “thrown together”!]

I might do something as simple as throw together some cooked spaghetti squash with leftover crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, spices, and nutritional yeast, then heat and eat. I might concoct a 5-Minute Mexican Tomato Soup, made from leftover diced tomatoes, Penzey’s Southwest Seasoning…

…and the seriously underrated Goya Pico de Gallo salsa.

I do occasionally get a little more adventurous and, discovering lots of leftover rosemary in the fridge……”throw together” a new hummus creation.More often than not, though–and especially with all the back-and-forth traveling I’ve been doing between Pennsylvania and Charlottesville lately–it’s Sabra hummus in a variety of flavors, and whatever veggies I can throw together from the fridge.If that includes spaghetti squash sprinkled liberally with nutritional yeast and Penzey’s Bouquet Garni, well, all the better.Dinnertime presents fun challenges. One night, steak was on the menu for Papa and Stepmama Smart, so I ‘threw together‘ a blend of sprouted beans (mung, lentil, and adzuki) from Costco, with some diced tomatoes and a LOT of Indian spices.

At the last minute, I decided to cook some bulgur directly in the tomato broth. Yum!

When faced with a houseguest who had offered to make dinner, and that dinner turned out to be pork loin and cheese-covered mashed potatoes, I stepped into the kitchen, cracked open some cans and got out my knife* and threw together a 10-Minute Chickpea Curry with stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers. [There was some Trader Joe’s Quinoa bread and a microwaved sweet potato on the side.]

*OK, just a knife. I don’t have my own personal one on me at all times, because I think that would be potentially very dangerous.
Stepmama Smart has been trying to expand her vegan repertoire, but I did offer to help cook dinner some days if she wanted me to. [Fun for me, easier on her.] A great success was a Lentil & Kale Stew I made, based on a South Beach recipe.
I started with the basic recipe, and from there, started throwing together spices and seasonings I thought would work well and heighten the fairly bland recipe.*
*Nothing against South Beach, as they have some great, easy recipes, but they always neglect the seasonings!
The final stew was something I hope to recreate again, but I’ll share with you what I threw together that night (as best as I can remember it).

Lentil & Kale Stew
(Adapted from The South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook)

1 cup dry lentils
1 small onion, diced (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
3 stalks celery, diced (approximately 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups low sodium V8 Juice
2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 bunch kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped (or ripped apart with your hands)

1. Cook lentils according to package directions until al dente (just nibble-able).
2. Saute onion, celery, and garlic in a large soup pot over medium heat.
3. Once onion and celery have softened, add seasonings, stirring well.
4. Add lentils, broth, juice, and tomatoes; stir well and bring to a simmer, adjusting seasonings as necessary.
5. Stir in kale and cook 15-20 minutes before …or let it all mellow for a few hours (or overnight) and reheat for even MORE flavor.


Here is were I normally a David Caruso a la CSI:Miami shades-dropping moment with heavy one-liner to close.
But I got nothing.

Except that all this talk of throwing things together makes me want to go start a food fight.

Have you thrown together anything yummy lately?

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table December 21, 2011 at 12:12 am

You eats looks so similar to mine it's scary. My pumpkin soup for my WIAW was a 5 min throw together – pumpkin puree, veggie broth, almond milk, curry, sriracha, and cardamom. Heat in pot and done. Yum.

Candy @ Healthy In Candy Land December 21, 2011 at 3:23 am

Some of my best recipes have been from "throw toegether" incidents. Yours look great! I've always wanted to participate in a food fight, like you see in the movies. But the responsible adult in me who hates to waste food just won't let it happen. At least not yet, anyway…

Fran@BCDC December 21, 2011 at 7:13 am

The stew sounds Excellent! My problem is usually that I "throw" things together and then don't remember what I "threw." You're much better at that. Need to work on it in 2012. Hate when I love something but can't recreate it… :-(

Lauren December 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

Lentil and kale are a winning combo! Great recipe and happy WIAW :) December 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

Ok that looks WAY better than the stuff I "throw together" at home when I visit. Usually I just take a trip to the grocery store and stock up on Chobani and Blueberries. But other than that, I end up eating like, Rice Chex and Apples (because my parents usually have those on hand!)

My dad is the guy that thought granola was the most amazing thing ever when he saw it at a hotel. "It's like crushed up granola bars!" Um… yeah dad… it's called granola 😉

Shannon from Healthiful Balance December 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

Love all your eats! :) That stew looks great!
Your thrown together eats look way better than mine! 😛

Happy WIAW!

Debbie (Accidently Delish) December 21, 2011 at 11:28 am

that lentil and kale soup looks awesome! i actually have some lentils that have been sitting in my cupboard. hmm maybe some kale is in my future, i AM going to the store today. and it is rather chilly out.. soup looks to be on the menu for tonight. haha. December 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Your eats look amazing and I love the sound of that soup!

Christin@purplebirdblog December 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

"Thrown together" in my head invites visions of the Swedish chef pouring a bowl of salad on his head. Bork bork bork. And persimmon goo = <3

teabagginit December 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

i threw together a bread pudding for my mom the other day: just lots of stale bread, evaporated milk, cinnamon, raisins, & oats! :) i also throw together my smoothies in a bowl! December 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I wish I had your talent to throw things together and actually have them be edible!!!


sarahlearns December 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm

we're getting ready to go out of town for christmas so i've been throwing together plenty of random meals to use up our produce. they've mostly been huge salads of spinach or kale with whatever leftovers i'm trying to use up on top!

so far we've used up pulled pork & sloppy joes!

Lyn @ FueledBySalad December 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Mmm the lentil and kale stew looks delicious! I guess you can say that I pretty much 'throw together' all of my lunches/dinners and call it a meal. 😉

Ami @ Parsnips and Pears December 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm

my favorite meals to throw together is always salads… just toss random things I find in the fridge together and pour on random things for dressing!

I would like to dive into that oatmeal bowl with the persimmon chunks!

Kristin @ FoodFash December 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Sometimes I feel as though everything I do is "thrown together", but it usually ends up being more fun that way!

Courtney Foster December 21, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Oh goodness that soup looks great! I am going to have to make some soup soon!

Your bulgur makes me really want to make Eech! I think I need to make a trip to whole foods tomorrow!

Ari @ AriTiana December 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I'm definitely going to try out that soup recipe, it looks too delicious not to. I love Sabra hummus and salsa! I've tried a few different brands of hummus and i like Sabra the best.

Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family December 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

I love things that are thrown together because you can get some of the coolest surprises.

Meri December 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Mmm there's a lot of goodness in this post! The stew looks delicious, I want some nice hot stew right NOW! My favorite combo you have though is the persimmon- Almondbutter- cookies one :)

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