27 April 2011

Dinner in 10

I made a ton of humus over the weekend, and come Monday, I was staring at the fridge thinking I had too many leftovers not to use them in my dinner plans. What to do with the humus, what to do. I tried mixing it with some lentils for some kind of a salad. It was no good. Or maybe I'd just had my fill of humus and nothing with garbanzos would have tasted good.

Whatever, it didn't matter. It was 6:05 pm, and I did not have dinner on the table. Or the stovetop. Or the oven. That's when I had to rally, a term that Seth finds hilarious to use in the context of the kitchen, but the man has never had to cook dinner for the family, so he may not understand quite how fitting it really is.

I had leftover tortillas and grated cheese, so it was quesadillas for the kiddo. But what to do for the grown-ups who expect just a little more from their meal? I turned to another leftover, hard boiled dyed eggs from Easter. In about 10 minutes I'd put together a salad that Seth and I could call a meal.

Greens, grated carrots, corn, avocado, roasted red peppers tossed in Ranch Dressing, topped with a hard-boiled egg and quesadilla wedges

After I posted this picture of it on my Facebook page, I was surprised by reader reaction. So, for those who liked it, here's a couple of tips from that meal.

  • I buy whole heads of lettuce or bunches of greens. Bring them home, core them and drop the leaves in a large bowl filled with cold water. A little swish around and I toss the leaves into a strainer to drain (don't pour the water back over them, as all the sand and grit falls to the bottom). Then, if I had a salad spinner, that's where I'd send them next, but I don't. So I either fan them out in a single layer on kitchen towels and let them air dry, or I toss them into a pillow case, go to my backyard and swing the holy heck out of them* (think salad spinner before the days of the salad spinner). Then, I pack the clean, dry leaves into an airtight container with some paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. They keep for about a week, and are ready for a quick salad when you are.
  • I buy whole carrots by the 5-pound bag. A whole carrot turns into a shredded carrot in about 15 seconds on the box grater.
  • Frozen corn, defrosted in the microwave is a perfect addition to a salad right alongside some roasted red pepper from the jar, chopped. I would have added some whole beans to the salad if I had them.
  • Ranch dressing doesn't have to come in the bottle. If you've got mayo, milk, S&P and some dried dill, you can have Ranch in about two minutes. Drop a spoonful of mayo into a bowl. Add a dash of milk and whisk. Add more milk to thin, mayo to thicken. Once you get the right consistency, add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch or two or dried dill. You can use buttermilk instead of regular milk if you like. This keeps in an airtight container for several days in the fridge, and it actually tastes better the next day.
  • Lastly, instead of croutons or crackers with this salad, I used my last two tortillas to make one quesadilla. Then I split the six triangles between the two salads.
* It's best to introduce yourself to the neighbors before trying this technique. Otherwise, they may get the impression you're a little off if you're flinging around a pillowcase. My neighbor laughed when she first saw me doing it. She hollered over the fence, "If you want to throw the thing, you've got to let go."

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