I like to start the week with a clean refrigerator, an empty slate for the week ahead. Cleaning the fridge, and cooking what's in there, keeps me from wasting food and helps me start the new week with a loose meal plan. I mean, I like to party, so you never know how plans will change, but it's good to have food. At least that's what they told me in court-ordered parenting class. Kidding. So I'm about to tell you everything I made with random bits and pieces from the fridge last Sunday. Don't care? Read this instead.
I started with the rest of a bag of now-wilted basil, which I bought because I killed my potted herbs already. Can't remember why I needed the basil to begin with, but there it was. I also had the tail end of a bag of slivered almonds, which had definitely been part of a chicken divan. The last of the olive oil was taunting me because I'd already bought a new one and I hate when there are extra jars of things on top of the stove. The only reason I ever buy lottery tickets is so I might be able to remodel my kitchen and include a walk-in pantry, where jars and jars of backup food could live without invading my personal food space. I don't do well with choices, so I like to keep them hidden. There was no Parmesan, and cleaning out the fridge means not adding anything new, so I used buttermilk powder instead. Thrilling, actually, since I appreciated finding a new use for an old friend.
The only reason I ever buy lottery tickets is so I might be able to remodel my kitchen and include a walk-in pantry, where jars and jars of backup food will live without invading my personal food space.
I cut up a watermelon my husband bought. (Why, oh why does he buy food he doesn't want? I don't get it. Or maybe I do. I did that in college when I wanted to convince myself, a visiting parent, or a random checker in the grocery store who did not care at all that I ate healthier than I did. Also, to convince everyone that I didn't have an eating disorder, including myself. But that's another story for another day, or not. Also, I don't think my husband has an eating disorder. Or maybe he does, but I digress.) Fruit in our house is instantly more appealing when it's peeled -- or sliced, or cut, or deseeded -- so the kids actually ate some of it while I braved the mozzarella.
And why did the mozzarella require bravery? Do you ever buy food that's just too special? And you keep meaning to eat it, but the moment is never right? I had a gorgeous ball of fresh mozzarella from Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse and nothing was good enough for it, not our homemade pizza, not the salmon tacos, and definitely not a random breakfast. Not even a midnight what-can-I-melt-on-these-corn-chips snack. What if the bloom was off the rose? What if my lovely mozzarella, sealed for I actually couldn't remember how long, had gone off? I don't like bad smells. (Yes, that's a difficult thing to manage when you live with four dudes, five if you count the dog. Thanks for asking.) I switched to mouth breathing and held the cheese over the sink as I punctured the package, ready to cram the dead cheese down the drain and insinkerate the hell out of it. Summoning all my courage, I held it as far away from my face as I could, and took a tentative sniff. And it was fine.
I switched to mouth breathing and held the cheese over the sink as I punctured the package, ready to cram the dead cheese down the drain and insinkerate the hell out of it.
Was that anticlimactic? Sorry. I've had a few too many years recently of unpleasant surprises and I've learned to embrace theanticlimax. Isn't it nice when things are just fine? Anyhow, I still didn't know what to do with the cheese, so I cut it into cubes and put it in a mason jar, which makes everything look more important. Next up, I had to deal with the leftover salmon from fish taco night. (Speaking of fish taco night, the comments on this two year old post for The Kitchn made me sniffle. Sometimes, I love people.)
The leftover salmon, along with half a jar of salsa and the remaining quiche crust from a package of two and the rest of a bag of shredded cheddar, made a crazy delicious taco pie. Like, so good that I made it on purpose a week later, so hooray for that. I used some other random cheese, the end of a jar of Duke's mayo, and the rest of a jar of jalapeño stuffed olives to make a cheese spread for the week ahead. It wasn't pimiento cheese, but close enough, and the boys will eat it.
And after it was all over? I poured a glass of rosé and made this.
Watermelon Summer Salad
1/2 cup watermelon, cubed
1/4 cup mozzarella, chopped
1 tablespoon basil pesto
extra virgin olive oil to taste
Mix watermelon and mozzarella in a bowl. Whisk olive oil into the basil pesto until you have a drizzlable dressing and drizzle it over the watermelon and mozzarella. Eat.
Note: I liked it so much I made it again ten minutes later and added a handful of mâché and it was excellent.
By the way, you should totally keep the pesto and olive oil dressing beside your plate, because you'll end up emptying it into the salad. Or eating it with your finger.
How do you cook at the end of the week? Part of me wants to be the super aggressive, organized person who incorporates my leftovers into new meals, but I'm afraid I'll accidentally put 20 year old cheese in a new lasagna and we'll all die. I'll do better tomorrow.