The beginning of school is crazy busy. Last night I needed to serve left-overs, but I wanted all of us present (three boys, my friend Lynley and daughter visiting from out of town, myself) to have an enjoyable meal. And it needed to happen fast, everyone was hungry and cranky.
So I had a burst of desperate creativity and invented our first Small Bites dinner.
I had a leftover Caesar Salad from Aqui's. What can you do with a day-old salad besides throw it out? Actually, it can be recycled into something edible and quite good. Really. I swear.
I also had some left-over vegetable quesadillas from the same place, and a couple slices of grilled tri-tip.
I started with the leftover salad. I have a recipe for something called Caesar Salad Soup that actually calls for leftover salad. So I dumped the salad in a bowl. This particular salad has corn and black beans, and strips of tortilla along with the usual romaine lettuce. Then I cut up a tomato and tossed it in, and added about two cups of chicken stock. The recipe calls for the mixture to sit at room temp for an hour. Perfect. I jumped in the car and went to pick up two of the boys from soccer practice.
I was prepared for Lynley, who stayed behind, to throw the mixture away because she was rather disgusted at the thought of eating my concoction for dinner. However, when I returned, she had been distracted by my youngest who engaged her in a game of rollerblade/basketball and she didn't have a chance to sabotage the dinner. Did I mention what a good sport she is?
The recipe then calls for blending the mixture "just short of smooth" and tasting for salt and pepper. I was thinking this was going to go straight down the disposal when I saw what it looked like blended up. Then I tasted it and it was pretty good! I decided to rename it gazpacho, as calling it a soup just seemed wrong.
I put the gazpacho in some small glasses. Then I cut up the leftover quesadillas and meat into little bite-sized pieces and arranged it artfully on a big white plate, and heated it all up in the microwave. I added a bit of other random leftovers, and voila, Small Bites Dinner!
And then, one very important detail: I gave everyone a toothpick to eat with.
I admit that the boys didn't like the "soup." I thought it was pretty good. However, they did love eating dinner with a toothpick. They were pretty distracted with the novelty of it and didn't mention eating the recycled dinner. Of course they were starving, which always makes almost any food seem attractive.
Eating with a toothpick had an added benefit: less scarfing, slower eating, more time between bites for conversation. Even after soccer practice.