Meatless Monday: Meals from the pantry

Happy Monday! Shopping my pantry is going swimmingly. Too swimmingly, actually. I’m so well stocked that making tasty, nutritious meals out of what I already have is too easy. Yesterday I stopped at my neighborhood to buy milk, a tub of salad greens, a big bunch of kale and a few bananas. That’s the sum total of my grocery shopping since the previous Saturday. (I talked myself out of replenishing my empty steel cut oats jar on the grounds that I have plenty of other breakfast grains on hand.)
Early in the week, I was eating up leftover grilled tri-tip (from last Sunday) and leftover Fesenjan Persian Chicken Stew. Then I went vegetarian for the rest of the week. 
I cooked a pot of quinoa and used it as a base for bowl meals. Some had baby spinach, shredded cabbage, chickpeas and a yummy Thai peanut sauce. I chose this particular peanut sauce recipe because I had all the ingredients (many versions call for fish sauce and hoisin sauce, which I am currently out of). For some bowls, I swapped out the peanut sauce for hummus, left out the cabbage, and added a little feta cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice.
A yen for Mexican food Friday night had me heating up some canned pinto beans with salsa, cumin and ground chipotle powder. We keep high quality fish sticks on hand in the freezer and Tillamook sharp cheddar in the fridge. I added leftover shredded cabbage, some avocado, a squeeze of lime and a dollop of sour cream (its been ages since we bought sour cream, and now I know why…it tastes exactly like the nonfat plain Greek yogurt we always have in the fridge). The leftover beans got topped with fried eggs, a touch of shredded cheddar, avocado and salsa for brunch yesterday.
Saturday I got a little inspired. I made an easy-and-delicious lentil and white bean stew and tossed halved Brussels sprouts (a full stalk’s worth from Trader Joe’s) with 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, some granulated garlic powder, and fresh ground pepper. I roasted them at 450 degrees, tossing them after about 20 minutes (they took about 30 minutes total). Note: I found that they stuck to the pan more than they do with my normal olive oil/salt/garlic method…maybe because of the balsamic?
For reasons I don’t remember, I have smallish amounts of lots of flours (oat, buckwheat, dark rye, coconut, garbanzo bean) in the freezer. I decided that I needed to start using up what still smelled fresh. I made oatmeal-dried cranberry cookies using oat flour (instead of whole wheat) to take to a friend’s house. The cookies were flat and lacy (I was hoping for thick and chewy), but I think that was just the recipe. They were a hit, regardless.
I avoided more food waste by making the amazing espresso banana muffins out of Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Cooking using the three ripest of the really, really ripe bananas we have in our banana bowl (yet more have been used up in smoothies, but I need to bake a banana bread loaf), as well as the rest of the hazelnuts I had in the freezer, instead of the usual walnuts. I had some pears in the fridge that were getting dangerously close to being overripe. They were rescued by being transformed into a pear crisp.
As I mentioned in my shopping my pantry post last week, one pitfall of having an overstocked pantry/freezer/fridge is that you forget what you have, and it might not still be any good when you uncover it. The freezer section of our side-by-side refrigerator in the kitchen might as well be a black hole. I intend it to be used for things we use regularly and often (bread, bags of nuts and seeds, frozen fruit for smoothies, extra butter, first aid gel packs…and all those bags of flour). I also like things to be segregated by shelf, for ease of search and retrieval. Jeff likes to shove other food odds and ends in there, wherever he can find space. I unearthed some really lovely freezer burn specimens this weekend, and while I felt guilt over the waste as I disposed of them, at least I feel good that I let some light into the black hole.