Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Next Best Thing to a Free Lunch

I think we all know I'm a frugal girl.

That's not the same as cheap - I expect some value for my expenditures. I'm not just trying to save money, I'm also trying not to waste it. I shop sales, and am the Queen of the Thrift Stores. I also love Manager's Specials - deals at the grocery store when foods are near their expiration date, so that they're being pushed off the shelves at half-price or less. There's nothing wrong with the food, it's just that new stuff is moving in to take its place if the old stuff will go away to make some room. I'm happy to help, and do a little tour of the store each time I'm there - I'm on a mission to look for the prized orange stickers indicating reduced prices.

So, needless to say, I'm also a fan of leftovers. Sometimes I'll eat them "as is," and sometimes I'll re-purpose them. Jeremy and I watched an episode of "Chopped" recently in which the entire show was devoted to leftovers; most of the chefs groused and whined, whereas I was in my glory coming up with ideas!

When I happened to have a number of items to combine into one stellar meal recently, I made myself a lovely lunch to take to work.

Having enjoyed a fabulous Indian meal from Curry Up, I had extra sambhar sauce that had been served with lentil dumplings. Having also eaten a great Chinese meal from the Evergreen Restaurant, there was plenty of rice waiting for a new lease on life.

I also had a small carton of coconut water that my friend Deborah had given to me. She remembers having visited her grandfather in Puerto Rico when she was young, and his having cracked open a coconut for her to drink from; the fresh beverage was amazing! So when she found coconut water for sale at the market, she instinctively bought some ... too bad. She said herself that she didn't know what she was expecting or thinking, but this stuff was not even remotely close to what she remembered. So she gave it to me, confident that I could find some use for it. I'm still contemplating a really noble purpose that lets it shine; but in the meantime, it definitely served me here.

And the final piece to my ridiculously inexpensive dish was a can of chickpeas that I'd bought on sale for less than $1.

Who would have thought such a mishmash of items would make such a fabulous, nutritious lunch to bring with me one cold day when hot food was very much appreciated???

Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

  • 1 cup leftover Sambhar sauce (or use a jarred curry sauce)
  • generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • leftover rice from a Chinese dinner, reheated for serving

Place the sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, curry powder, chickpeas, and coconut water into a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in spinach just until wilted. Serve over rice.

Makes 2 servings.


Jenn said...

I LOVE coming up with new ways to use leftovers. It's definitely a challenge more times then not, but it's still fun. Some meals are duds, some are better than the original meal!! You are so right.. it truly is the next best thing to a free lunch!

Candace said...

What a fantastic leftover meal, Mary! I tried the coconut water too and was not impressed. I still have a carton or two in the cupboard. I don't know if I could find the sauce that you used here to recreate this meal; but I sure wish that I could. It would be a great way to use the water.

Cranberry Morning said...

Yeah, Mary, cuz we all have coconut water just waiting to be used. lol I laughed at your mention of the rice and its 'new lease on life.' That's what mine is waiting for! But I'm so with you on repurposing those leftovers! Love coming up with those yummy things - and it sounds like you had some fabulous starters. YUM! Love your re-do.

Chris said...

I'm doing a lot better at re-working leftovers into new dishes like this. Great recipe!

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