I made two soups recently which surprised me. I forget where the first was from, but it entailed sauteeing some leeks in olive oil, and then adding chicken broth with romaine lettuce and snow or snap peas (I get them mixed up). Cook it for a little while, put through the blender and strain. When I decided to make, I paid full price for the ingredients, of course; but the second time I made it I used onions, and had the lettuce and the peas on hand - they were wilting, and it was very handy to know this recipe.
The second one was something from August's British Country Living - a Sicilian recipe which actually called for zucchini leaves for the greens! And fresh tomatoes. You chop up two onions and cook them in olive oil, then put in water! yes, plain water, one and a half liters, (or litres) with a pound of your greens, a pound of tomatoes, skinned and seeded and two garlic cloves, chopped. Cook for a while with 125 grams of really small pasta - like alphabets - until the greens are tender and serve with plenty of Parmesan. Do I need to tell you that I used spinach (frozen), and did not skin or seed my tomatoes? The surprise was that we really liked it!
It tasted flat, as you can guess, but that's why the Parmesan. I tell you, I feel that I learned something from making it, and hope I remember that a tasty soup can come from almost nothing of interest. (well, zucchini leaves are very interesting, but we're not growing any this year, and I doubt if I'd have a pound of them, anyway.) This whole thing reminds me of the Stone Soup folktale - basically a soup made out of very little, but still good.
my meatballs are never round
This afternoon I started to make some meatballs, and I've been using the same method for quite a while now. But today I went into the fridge looking for things to put in and use up. I found a mostly empty bottle of capers with less than two tablespoons left. Then, a container of hummus - roasted red pepper - which had perhaps one third cup in it, so I scooped that in. At this point I thought I wouldn't need salt or pepper, but I dumped the end of the Italian seasoning bottle in - a teaspoon, maybe, but didn't dare add anything more. The bread I included had it's own flavor and the meatballs turned out quite good. I haven't made up my own recipe for that in a long time.
So I tend to go back and forth, trying new recipes and spending more than perhaps I should in the making, but that's the price you pay for learning something new. The trick is remembering the ones worth remembering. Now for a while I'll spend less and stick to the familiar.