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Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Making homemade stock is a great way to use up any extra vegetable trimmings and wilty produce that would otherwise be sent to the compost. It is extremely easy to make, and is the key ingredient to a lot of tasty vegetarian dishes. At the beginning of the week, label a plastic tub and place it in the fridge. Throughout the week, add any extra trimmings from onions, carrot tops, celery leaves, or whatever else you're prepping.
When it’s time to make your stock, add the leftover trimmings with some additional greens and roots, garlic, spices, herbs, salt, and pepper to a large soup pot with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the vegetables, and strain the stock through a cheesecloth. The stock can be kept in the fridge for one week in a sealed container, or in the freezer for 2 months. Often, I'll fill up an ice cube tray with some stock, and then pop out a few cubes for cooking. Once you’re done, there are many opportunities to use it in a variety of meals -- here are a five of my favorites.
More: What to do with vegetable stems and roots, including how to make vegetable stock.
Poutine is a common Canadian dish made by pouring steamy gravy over cheese curds and french fries. The cheese curds melt into the fries, and it is pure magic. For the longest time I could not find a vegetarian poutine anywhere -- each time I would go back to visit my family in Canada, waiters would inform me that the gravy was made with beef stock. I took matters into my own hands and developed a vegetarian version of my own, using vegetable stock instead. If I’m feeling extra classy, I will chop up some green onions and sprinkle them on top.
Winter Tabbouleh with Roasted Vegetables
Tabbouleh is a salad traditionally made with parsley, couscous, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon, garlic, and olive oil, often served as an appetizer or as part of a meze. I like to change up the flavors in this dish and incorporate vegetables that are in season. When I prepare couscous, I steam it in vegetable stock, which gives it much more flavor. Place two cups of dry couscous into a large bowl, add two cups of boiling vegetable stock, and stir. Then place a tight-fitting lid or plate over the bowl and allow the stock to absorb into the couscous. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Toss with roasted vegetables, herbs, and whatever dressing you like!
Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pappardelle
I adore a nice creamy pasta, but I often hold back on making them often, as most recipes call for a great deal of full-fat cream and cheese. I have discovered that substituting vegetable stock for cream and adding a bit of goat cheese gives you the same deliciously rich flavor without the additional heft.
Japanese Mushroom Risotto
After making risotto for many years, I have learned that the key to a good one is in the stock. There are many different risotto dishes, but one of my favorites is this Japanese mushroom risotto -- you can also make your own with this step-by-step guide.
Grilled Corn, Black Beans, and Quinoa with a Cilantro Lime Dressing
Quinoa is an easy sell -- it's virtuous and delicious and the perfect addition to any salad. A few years ago I started preparing quinoa with vegetable stock instead of water; the flavor that it adds is undeniably delicious. I usually make up a pot of quinoa at the beginning of the week and then add it to my salads. Bonus: This recipe makes for a great Not Sad Desk Lunch.
Makes 4 servings
4 small or 2 large Russet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, salted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 pound cheese curds
Photos by Heather Hands