Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Clearing the Cupboards

With the new year approaching I am quite hooked on the idea of simplifying my life. My kitchen is full of random ingredients that I don't use regularly or bought and never tried. I'm also trying to spend as little money as possible. Using ingredients I already have on hand accomplishes both goals. Hopefully in the coming weeks I will be able to post tasty money saving recipes.

Now, of course, I understand that not everyone has the same random assortment of ingredients to use in their pantry but the following two options are made of rather cost effective ingredients whether you already have them or not. They also have the added bonus of being quite quick when all is said and done. Little prep work and not long cooking times.

After a little Google search through my trusted blogs I came across my first victim, err recipe.

Red Gold Black and Green Chili (adapted from Fat Free Vegan)
1 cup hulled barley, soaked overnight, cooked in 4 cups water and drained, cooking time is reduced by soaking
2 14oz cans canned diced tomatoes, undrained
3 tablespoons water or oil (optional)
3 medium chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon hot sauce (we have an atomic hot sauce so I used only 1 tsp)
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 1/2 cups (1 can) cooked black beans, drained
1 1/2 cups (1 can) cooked red kidney beans, drained
salt to taste

Heat a large saucepan adding
the 3 tbsp. water or oil if using (I was using a cast iron pot and did not need additional moisture to prevent sticking). Sauté the onions until they are soft; then stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and bell peppers and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and beans to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the corn and the drained barley. Cover and simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld. Add salt to taste.

This ended up filling my 3 qt pot to the brim and I used all my barley. Pearl barley will work just fine in this recipe but hulled is more nutritious. I have noticed that canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables and canned beans go on sale frequently so it's best to grab them when they are reduced so you always have a quick easy dinner in your kitchen ready to be thrown together. I also pounce on dried beans when they go on sale and then cook and freeze them as needed to have beans ready for use in my freezer. Once they are cooked you only need to run them under hot water for a bit to slightly thaw and separate them. Drain and toss them in the pot.

Tonight's dinner made me feel super clever but I can't be the first person to think of this. I'm not a fan of split pea soup. I am also not a fan of canned soup. Now I like soup in general, just not the split pea variety and not canned. Canned is ok in pinch but there is also too much salt. So how three cans of split pea soup made it into my pantry I have no idea. Well I do have an idea and it wasn't mine but I never turn down free vegan food. I figured we would find a use for it and if not we would donate it to the food shelf. Anyway, while at work today I had the bright idea of adding currying the soup. That might actually make it palatable. Ok but what to do with all that extra salt. Potatoes! Potatoes can suck up a lot of salt flavor so once I got home I set out to make mashed potatoes with

Chick & Split Pea Curried Gravy
1 can split pea soup (ours was Muir Glen Organic)
2-3 cloves garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder (start with this and add more to taste)
1 Tb curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) cooked chickpeas

Heat sauce pan over medium heat. If you are using fresh garlic then add this to the pan with a splash of water and heat gently for 1-2 minutes. Empty in can of soup. Continue to heat, stiring occationally until simmering. Reduce heat slightly to keep from burning and add spices (including powdered garlic if using). Mix in well then add chickpeas. Let mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes. The timing isn't important but simmering it will allow some of the excess liquid to evaporate off and naturally thicken the mixture and also allows the flavors to blend. Serve over potatoes, rice, veggies, couscous, whatever you can find in your cupboards!
As much as I say I do not like canned soups, they do go on sale frequently and there are so many varieties you can always think of something to add to them to make them a more hearty meal (and to spread out the salt a bit). I didn't measure how much this made. I would guess about 3-4 cups which is easily 4 servings. Since the soup is a fairly blank palate, add whatever your heart desires (and what you have on hand).


Cynthia said...

That chili sounds super good, I love barley so I'm always looking for stuff to put it in.

River said...

Those canned soups really are super high in sodium! Way to go with the salt sucking potatoes! Awesome idea!

Anonymous said...

What a great use for those canned beans and such! I'm sure my pantry could use a good clean-out, too...

Vegan_Noodle said...

I need to make some of the same resolutions this new year. These recipes are a great start!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for the resolution to simplify your life! You chose two of my favorite dishes to start your thrifty recipe posts with: chili and chickpea curry. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Great site Bex! Although I've never served a vegan a raw cabbage I'm always a bit confounded finding tasty meals that are good for non vegans too :)

Bex said...

NQN - hehe thanks. That raw cabbage thing is actually a true story. Not my own but I was left aghast to hear that's all they could come up with to serve the poor girl.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A delicious looking dish! Healthy and comforting!



Lindsay I-F said...

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until then please visit: