My mother was a big fan of what she called "stretching" the meals. She would add a can of Dinty Moore to leftover beef stew to "stretch" it. I thought of this yesterday, when I needed to make supper and was planning to make minestrone. But there were too many odds and ends in the refrigerator to ignore. So, I gathered them up and took a good look.
I sliced up two small red onions, which were getting soft. Then, cut up a few parsnips - can I say that parsnips don't seem to go bad? I can't remember how long they were in the fridge, but no slime, nothing. This is most likely due to whatever modern supermarket vegetables are treated with, but we won't dwell on that too much. I added some rosemary and sauteed it for a while in olive oil, and meanwhile I scraped a very large carrot and sliced it. This went into the pot with two and a half quarts of vegetable broth, a small bit of powdered sage and some chiffonaded romaine lettuce which I'd never gotten around to washing - it was wilting and the top and outer parts had to go into the compost bin but the insides were still good, and two little Campari tomatoes which were getting a little wrinkly. I cooked all this for half an hour.
There was some leftover mashed potato and I scooped half into the soup and then mashed it all slightly by hand. It was time to taste - rather sweet, from the parsnips, so sea salt got added. I put aside some leftover cooked cauliflower for another meal, thinking it would not improve anything here. Lastly, a small piece of braised chicken with lots of spinach and some chicken stock. I thought it turned out delicious and was very pleased. These items were saved because I used them in time - nothing had to get thrown out for rottenness. I need to think this way more often.
Today, I did something similar again. There was some leftover multigrain thin spaghetti. I've made spaghetti pie in the past, but had no appetite for it this time. I really wanted to throw it out - too many carbs! But instead I spied a bag of Brussels sprouts and cooked them, then sliced them up and added to the pasta, which I'd warmed up in plenty of olive oil and Italian seasoning. What next to add? A couple of tablespoons of Parmesan and a can of diced tomatoes. Salt. For protein, I thawed a few meatballs I'd frozen just yesterday, cut them up and it was very nice! We had it with yesterday's soup. Did I mention that it's been in the fifties yesterday and today? Soup weather.