It’s been three weeks since my move and I’m finally settling into a routine. As part of our daily routine, lunch plays a more prominent role in my meal planning than before. My dear husbanders works about three blocks from our apartment and he comes home for lunch on most days. It’s an added bonus to see him at lunch-time, but it adds to my meal planning responsibilities.
When we packed lunches to take to work, Omar often handled our lunches and I was happy to have hard-boiled eggs or a peanut butter sandwich. Now that we eat lunch together at home, a peanut butter sandwich doesn’t seem quite as enticing when fresh produce is sitting right in our fridge. The challenge however, is putting together a meal in about 30 minutes so I can keep to my at-home work schedule. (Working from home has its advantages, but coupled with a five-hour time difference, I find myself working more hours of the day if I’m not sticking to a schedule.)
Meal planning is now a dance of staggering and re-purposing leftovers so I’m not making lunch and dinner from scratch every day. One of my tactics is soup and salad. Soup is easy to stretch with the addition of some additional broth, veggies and/or a protein. Poaching an egg in the some broth or adding legumes on the second day to stretch a soup helps me stretch our lunch meals. These tricks also make for a hearty, well-balanced meal that doesn’t take much time to get from the fridge to the table.
Last week I made a vegetarian split pea soup. Living in country where pork is basically impossible to come-by, I was happy to try a vegetarian recipe that omits the traditional ham. I followed Ina Garten’s recipe for Parker’s Spilt Pea Soup from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. There is a reason this is a five-star recipe with over 200 reviews! The soup was flavorful and hearty. I loved the technique of adding the split peas in two additions, it offers a really nice texture to the soup and doesn’t feel like mush. I added a little extra broth while when I re-heated this the next day and it was delicious on day two. I attempted to make some parmesan-pepper biscuits to go with the soup, but they turned out more like crackers.
What are your tricks for stretching leftovers?
PARKER’S SPLIT PEA SOUP FROM INA GARTEN
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 carrots, medium-diced (about 2 cups)
1-2 waxy potatoes, cut into chunks (the original recipe calls for red boiling potatoes, I used the potatoes I found here that looked like a russet, but had a waxier texture)
1 pound dried split green peas
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Place a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onions, garlic, olive oil, oregano, sale and pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the carrots, potatoes, half of the split peas and the chicken or vegetable stock. Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Skim of the foam as needed, and stir occasionally while it’s simmering. Add the remaining split peas and simmer for another 35-40 minutes or until the split peas are soft. Continue to skim off any foam and stir the soup occasionally to make sure the bottom isn’t burning. Salt and pepper to taste and serve!
To reheat, add about ½-1 cup of water or broth and re-warm.