Leftovers Cuisine: Second-Day Beef Stew with Quinoa and Beans

IMGP2033 What’s your leftovers attitude?

Mine is: leftovers are terrific opportunities to create a new, different, interesting, exciting dishes! Really. (Or, at the very least, no cooking the next night.)

For example, early this week, we returned from a week-long vacation in Jamaica (Sun! Sea! Sand! Piña Coladas!), and the spouse decided to make beef stew our first night home. It was basic: beef, potatoes, carrots, onions. After one dinner, we had about 1½ cups left—a slightly thick broth, dotted with a few pieces of beef, etc.

To be honest, it did look uninspiring, BUT…

Those Jamaican chefs had inspired me. They had raised leftovers + vegetables + mix-and-match beans to an art form. One night we had turkey as the main meat, the next day at lunch we had a tasty turkey stew with vegetables and two types of beans. Surely, I reasoned, this type of creation was in my cuisine skill set.

Their cooking also had a second appeal for me because it fit the flexible use-what-you-have-in-the-kitchen approach. My recipe uses tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa. Why? Yup, you guessed it.

The result was delicious and filling, plus the spouse liked it! And he doesn’t always go for my mixtures—unfortunately, his mother cooked basic (meat, potato, veg) and served basic (no mixing) and this has had a lingering effect.

If you try this recipe, please use it as a template rather than a fixed-in-stone culinary creation. Feel free to change ingredients, vary quantities, and use your favourite spices. Continue reading

Turkish Carrot and Lentil Stew

IMGP1895

Yep, carrots again. But this time, instead of making them sweet and spicy, I adapted a coriander-spiced dish from NPR’s show, The Splendid Table.

I was attracted to this recipe because it

  • sounded like a tummy-warming, tasty, vegetarian winter stew.
  • required a lot of carrots and I’d bought a lot on sale.
  • included bean protein, which is always a good and nutritious thing.
  • would use up the tomato paste languishing in my fridge.
  • needed fresh herbs which I actually had on hand (almost never happens!).
  • would help fill up my teenaged grandchildren who were coming to dinner. (The dinner was cancelled after this dish was made, and we’ve been eating it ever since…but that’s another story.)

So I re-fashioned the recipe: eliminated the oil, used more carrots and, generally, simplified where possible. The result was delicious, had delightful grace notes of parsley, and was every bit as warm and filling as I had hoped.

Continue reading