We’ve all been there – when you don’t have a real amount of stuff in your fridge, but have just enough that you are too lazy to go to the grocery store because its not empty per se. Situations like this give you limited options – one of which is the “odds and ends casserole.” It’s one of those situations in which you are trying to cook something tasty with what happens to be around. Now, everyone’s fridge is different, but my odds-and-ends casserole involved summer squash, potatoes, and cheese. I’m fairly certain you could change veggies with this recipe easily enough, but don’t quote me on that.
1 large yellow potato
1 summer squash/zucchini
1/3 cup chopped onion
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Zap the potato in the microwave for a couple minutes, just enough so that its not raw, but not so much that it is thoroughly cooked. Chop in into smallish chunks and toss it into a bowl. Add the zucchini, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and mix them all together. Take a baking pan, and grease it with the butter. Leave small hunks of butter scattered over the bottom of the pan. Add the veggies. Scatter the cheese over the whole thing, and bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. (The reason you half-cook the potato first is so that you don’t kill the zucchini in the baking process, waiting for the potatoes to cook).
The result was pretty good. Not spectacular or anything – I’d have needed some fresh herbs and a stronger cheese to get it up there. But for an odds-and-ends casserole, it was quite good. Of course, you add enough garlic and cheese to pretty much anything and I’ll be happy. This is a good proto-type casserole. Potato, veggie, seasonings, cheese. Basic, easy, and with infinite variations, as a good odds-and-ends dish should be. In the spirit of the dish, you should pair it with whatever beer or wine you have handy. Song of the week: Irreplaceable by Beyonce. Because Beyonce is Queen – even if she isn’t your thing, she’s earned that from the world. And I love the sentiment of the song – I mean who manages to make a break-up song be all self-empowered? And, while B may be fabulous, this is one of her few songs that I truly love (the other two being Crazy in Love and Single Ladies).
It’s always nice when someone volunteers to be your permanent food guinea pig. I usually get nervous cooking for people, but one of my friends, has no problems trying out my new recipes (he was the one who tried the experimental trifle) The only condition is no eggplant. So since I owed him a dinner anyways, it seemed logical to do both in one meal. Rather than do something completely new, I decided to err on the side of caution and make a variation on a recipe I’m fairly comfortable with – quiche.
1 cup flour
1/3 cup salted butter
some cold water
Put flour in a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or a fork if you don’t have one) until it is all incorporated, and the dough can almost clump together. Add the water, a little at a time, stirring it in with a knife and your hands until a nice dough has formed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until the topping is done. Always make dough from scratch. My friend actually asked me if I was using store-bought dough or not … I was very nearly offended that he would even ask. Let the dough sit for a while (it lets the butter get all streaky and incorporated better). Then roll it out into a circle and line a pie plate with it.
2 medium leeks
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 pinches dried thyme
8-10 kalamata olives, quartered
1 1/2 cups milk
lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
Take the leeks and thinly slice the white parts. Saute the leeks and garlic for a bit. Once soft, put them in a bowl and toss with some chopped spinach (I usually use the frozen stuff that I’v thawed in the microwave), the parsley, thyme, and olives. Let the mixture cool. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk and lemon zest.
Assembly: Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese on the bottom of the pie crust. Place the leek filling as an even layer on top of that. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the filling. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, or until cooked through and set. It should not wiggle at all when you move it.
The result was extremely good – a solid 8 1/2. I was surprised at just how lemon-zesty it was, since there was less than one lemon’s worth of zest in there. It was, I think, the right level of olive-y though. Enough that it is a dominant flavor, but not so much that it qualifies as overpowering. The leeks really weren’t that flavorful. I’m not sure if its just cause leeks are fairly delicately flavored, or if it was just a function of the recipe. I think maybe caramelized onions might be a good substitution in the future. I had this with a Belgian IPA (my friend’s contribution to the meal) but I think it would pair best with white wine.