Davy went out of town for work a few weeks ago, and I seized the opportunity to make a few meals with ingredients he's not especially fond of. In the process, I also managed to clean out some of the odds and ends in our fridge.
The first order of business was pasta, and lots of it. Davy eats pasta, but he doesn't like to eat it more than once or twice a week. I, on the other hand, would eat noodles multiple times a day given the opportunity. Butternut squash is another food that I love and Davy could do without. My parents gave me a nice jar of butternut squash sauce, and I decided to try it out with baked pasta.
I browned three links of spicy Italian turkey sausage (casings removed), mixed it with about a half pound of cavatappi, 3/4 cup of shredded mozzarella, and a cup or so of the sauce. I spread the mixture into a baking dish, sprinkled more cheese on top, and let it sit in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. The creaminess of the squash sauce almost made me feel like I was eating a decadent variation of macaroni and cheese with spicy morsels of sausage throughout.
Next up: mushrooms. I was the weird kid who chose to eat mushrooms on my pizza when I was little, and I still love them. The giant container of dried mushrooms, below, was recent purchase from Costco. I'm thrilled to have them, because it means I don't have to buy fresh mushrooms just for myself if I want to add them into my cooking.
I'd found some beautiful organic rainbow chard and gigantic leeks at the grocery store and decided to take them home. I thought for a few days about what I could do with them, and decided to combine them with the mushrooms to make an earthy spring soup.
I rinsed, chopped, and browned the leeks with some salt and pepper, and then added a rosemary sprig, parmesan rind, and some homemade stock from my latest roast chicken.
After the broth came to a simmer, I threw in the mushrooms, which I had rinsed under hot water for a minute. Once the soup had bubbled for about five minutes (the recommended cooking time for the mushrooms), I added the chard and let it soften a bit.
Up until the moment that I started making the soup, I knew I wanted something else in the pot, but couldn't figure out what. I had a can of chickpeas, but they didn't seem quite right. The last of my frozen corn from the summer wasn't going to mesh well with the greens and leeks either. Pasta would have tasted great, but it gets mushy if you're eating soup over several days. I looked for barley in my cabinets, but didn't have any.
Then I spotted a bag of brown rice, which I knew it would keep its shape when I wanted to eat the soup as leftovers. I steamed the rice in a separate pot, and dumped it all in after it was almost done cooking.
I ate many bowls of the soup with freshly grated parmesan and black pepper on top, and even though the combination was somewhat random, I thoroughly enjoyed the results. Not only was it an extremely healthy creation, I also had it all to myself.