Several weeks ago I grocery shopped with the intention of not shopping again for a month. I don’t know if I succeeded or not in that endeavor, but the larder is beginning to look bare in terms of staples and, believe-it-or-not, meat. Yes, we purchase meat. In part, that is because I am still a city girl and meat comes in pretty little wrapped packages. I like the disconnect between what we raise and what we eat…at least for now.
In any case, yesterday was “clean out the refrigerator” day on the homefront. I wanted to make a vegetarian-style dinner that would be filling for a man that burns at least 3,000 calories per day, one he liked, and one to use up leftover bits of this and that in the fridge. I believe I succeeded, since he ate a second (and maybe a third) helping. There was only enough left of it today, for a good lunch. I’m happy.
I wish I had taken pictures as I put it together, but the recipe I made up was pretty straight forward. The recipe that follows is based on approximate measure, since I basically dumped the stuff in. Oh, and since, Clean Out the Refrigerator Dinner doesn’t exactly sound like a restaurant choice, I named it:
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (do not dilute) [normally I do not cook with this, but bought it for another recipe I never made…using it cleaned it out of the cabinet.]
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese mixed with 1/2C of real mayo [Real mayo, for whatever scientific reason, breaks the cream cheese chunks down into a smooth consistency, use only what you need to soften the cheese]
1/2C feta cheese [this was the last of an 8 oz package, crumbled finely]
1/4C grated parmesan [not the stuff in the jar]
1C mixed Italian cheeses [this is the shredded package stuff]
1 drained pkg (square) Birdseye spinach
1 can drained and chopped artichokes in water **[Important! Get the kind in the can, not the jar. Read the label. You do not want artichoke hearts in seasoned oil, pickled, or any thing of that nature. The kind we had on hand was put out by DeLLalo and says it is in brine.]
1/2C diced water chesnuts [I stole these out of a leftover package of frozen Stir Fry vegies]
1/4 C diced red bell pepper
1tsp Italian seasoning [use your favorite and a pre-blend, but be sure it has oregano and basil in it]
1/2 can drained petite diced tomatoes [another shelf leftover bought for convenience because we do not dice our home canned tomatoes]
8 0z dry weight ziti, boiled until al dente.
Mix all ingredients except the ziti, add in the al dente ziti and stir well. Mixture will be lumpy looking and thick. Place in an oven proof casserole, top with a light sprinkle of mozzarella and a light sprinkle of diced tomatoes. Bake at 350 until lightly brown on top (approximately 45 minutes). Serve with a light salad. VERY RICH. **This will fill a large casserole dish or two 8X8 square baking pans. Do not halve the recipe. If you want to make less, save aside 1/2 of the wet ingredients and cut down the amount of ziti.
The taste is reminiscent of everyone’s favorite Spinach and Artichoke dip, but with a lighter flavor because of the water chestnuts and tomatoes. The tomatoes should be used sparingly, so as not to over power the taste of the artichokes.
This is no April Fool’s joke. It turned out well. I am off to feed calves and just wanted to share my “culinary” success. Cleaning out the refrigerator and eating leftovers can be a good thing.