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?