Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Veggie Goulash

At around 8:30 this morning, I got an email from The Professor letting me know we’d be having an overnight guest. I wasn’t going to be home until about 7 PM – five minutes before the two of them got home. I started thinking about what my cozy love nest currently looks like:

  • The weekend’s newspapers are all over the coffee table and love seat.
  • Every pair of shoes that I’ve kicked off at the front door in the last week are...under the table by the front door.
  • The junk mail on the dining room table has started breeding. That is the only explanation for the quantity of worthless credit card and pressure-washing offers we now own.
  • All the boxes of ingredients needed to make the snacks I promised the girls for this weekend are sitting on the kitchen counter – because there isn’t room for one more thing in the pantry.

  • Oh, and I needed to find dinner.

So, for the next 8 hours at work, my brain percolated on what I had in the house that could be transformed into a fast meal. Pretty much, it was going to be vegetables, since the meat is all frozen. Hopefully cooked vegetables.

This vegetable skillet thing is something I do to clean out my fridge every now and then, and it always tastes different because I use different seasonings and different fresh/canned/frozen vegetables. It’s starting to get a little chilly outside, so I decided to use my cumin (oh! I how I love thee!). This stuff is yummy when fresh, it’s yummy if it sits on the stove cooking for a while, and it’s yummy the next day as leftovers for lunch.

Luckily, the guest of the night is someone I could feed celery and peanut butter to, and he’d be happy. I love friends like this.

Vegetable a la Goulash

  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • olive oil
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 parsnips, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 cup? Frozen spinach (I just grabbed a big handful out of the bag in the freezer)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 oz can of mushrooms
  • 1 can whole tomatoes with juice (I ran my knife through them to cut them up a bit)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 3+ tsp cumin
  • 7 ½ ounces (1/2 can) tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start the rice cooking immediately; it’s going to take the longest (boil 2 1/2 cups of water with a dash of oil and salt, add the rice, stir and cover). Or just use minute rice later.

Slice the carrots, parsnips, onion and celery and put them in a large sauté pan with the olive oil. Cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, until the carrots and parsnips are beginning to soften.

Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for another minute or two.

Add the drained mushrooms, the UN-drained tomatoes and the seasonings. Taste and adjust the seasonings (I needed lots more cumin and a little more black pepper).

Add the spinach (yes, frozen) and stir.

If you need more liquid (I did), add the tomato sauce - and maybe a dash of that wine you’ve been sipping. Let it simmer in the skillet while you refill your wine glass, set the table and make small talk for about 10 or 15 minutes.

Serve over the rice, while you desperately hope that it’s good enough to keep your impromptu dinner guest from noticing that your stepson left behind ONE sock from his weekend visit. And that it’s under the coffee table.

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