The elegant leftover scheme

In which we outline a cooking plan for the new depression.

french lentil egg-fried mujadara

Times are hard. We know this because we hear it every time we turn on the radio. It’s been a rough year. It’s been a rough couple of years. Well, I’ve always enjoyed trying to make the most of the food I have – trying to think of something inventive to make with the contents of my cupboard, and trying to use every bit of food I cook, in one form or another. This hearkens back to the way people cooked during the first depression. The food was often vegetarian, and people found ingenious ways to stretch it to feed as many as possible, or to use simple leftovers to make a meal so good even meat-eaters didn’t miss their meat. Left-over mashed potatoes would become croquettes, leftover beans would go in a stew. Some of the most memorable dishes from around the world were initially devised as money-saving ingredient-stretching feasts. Over the years, I’ve developed a scheme for using leftovers creatively. It’s not just the dishes that are elegant in this scheme – although you’ll feel like you were dining at William Powell’s night club – it’s the way everything fits together. If, say, you make a big batch of french lentils on Saturday, and you make a dish with rice on Sunday…on Monday you can make a delicious mujadara-like dish. Add one beaten egg, and you have a tasty mujadara egg-fried rice. The flavorings are sage, rosemary and thyme, and are enhanced with shallots and onions. Very satisfying! On the night I made this, I also cooked some potatoes in a clay pot, and made brown-butter-roasted cauliflower, and a simple salad of arugula and goat cheese. Everything tasted wonderful together. And the roasted cauliflower and potatoes will show up another day in a soup, (stay tuned!) which will take a fraction of the time to cook, because they’re already roasted!

Here’s Times is Tight Like That, by Bo Carter, and a recipe for french lentil mujadara fried rice is after the jump.
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