cheap veggie gourmet

A blog detailing ways to enjoy a gourmet vegetarian diet on the cheap. Check out recipes, food stories, tips and techniques.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pantry Meals

I'm moving in about ten days. This has called for me to one, spend less money, since I've had to drop a significant amount of cahs on deposits and the like; and two, pare down my pantry stores so I'm not schlepping forty cans of tomatoes across town. Thankfully, these are highly compatible objectives.

One of the best meals to come out of this has been my favorite veggie chili yet:

one can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
two cans diced tomatoes
two to four cloves garlic, minced
half an onion, minced
good handful TVP (not tofu crumbles... that stuff is too expensive and just tastes wrong, somehow)
dollop of jarred salsa (since I hardly ever buy fresh peppers)
chopped jalapeno pepper (if desired)
green taco sauce (the kind with tomatillos, unless you happen to have some fresh)
handful of frozen corn
one carrot, chopped into 1/4" dice
olive oil
crushed red pepper (if desired)
cumin, to taste
fresh ground black pepper
fresh parsley

Sautee the onion, garlic and spices in olive oil until fragrant and transparent. Add the remaining ingredients, except the corn and fresh parsley. Cook over medium heat until it's nice and thick. Add parsley and corn. Cook until corn is cooked through.

Damn good over rice, with a bit of shredded cheese and sour cream on top.


Anyone else remember that ridiculous Cabbage Soup Diet from the 1990s? You'd a ton of grapefruit one day, rice another... all supplemented by as much cabbage soup as you could stomach. The diet was pretty quacky, but the soup was good. I never pursued the diet, but I make the soup every so often. I made a real clean-out-the-pantry version the other night:

  • two cans diced tomatoes
  • one can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • one lonely, neglected sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • chopped shoots from the same sweet potato*
  • a couple of cups of cabbage, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • two green onions
  • handful of alphabet pasta
  • water
  • 1/2 cup very bad merlot; turns out that the $2.99 bottles available at SaveALot really are that bad (I bought it after having my interest piqued by hearing tales from Californian friends about the virtues of Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck)
  • pepper to taste
  • dash of soy sauce
  • a few drops of liquid smoke

A sort of half-assed minestrone, but very tasty. I think as long as you have a good tasting broth and the beans and cabbage as the basis, you'll have a pretty satisfying meal.

*NOTE: Sweet potato shoots and leaves are edible, and quite tasty. White potato shoots, on the other hand, are poisonous. The vegetables are from different families: sweet potatoes related to morning glories, while white potatoes are in the nightshade family. All parts of the plant except the tubers are toxic.


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