Whenever I have leftovers it’s mandatory to get them eaten. I don’t know why I feel that way; more often than not, food tastes better when they’ve sat in their juices or herbs for a day or more but, I cannot make them more enticing than if I were to cook something new. If we have fresh fruit, I always feel I need to repurpose it quickly as if the berries will rot within a day. These are the Sunday struggles I face every week: what do we already have that I can add to leftovers to make them seem new.
Is it that or, is it because it’s a Sunday… And I’m tired. And I’m holding onto the last remnants of my weekend with both hands. And preparing an entirely new meal is less appealing than a Monday morning.
Who knows, but here goes:
In this case, I had leftover strawberries from the meal the day before. Polenta from the week before. Lima beans…. Sweet onions… In the end, I thought a nice lunch of soup and salad would be a perfect way to relax as nothing is easier to make if you plan it right.
I have spoken about my Philips Soup Maker in previous posts (see below for direct link), and it’s been a lifesaver. With just two mins of prep, I left the soup maker to cook everything down to completion in 18 minutes. I then had this wonderful creamy soup of split peas, lima beans, sweet onion, cashews and beef broth. Topped with parmesan and a little drizzle of olive oil for sheen.
Philips Soup Maker
In a crystal serving bowl, I placed soft leaves of baby greens and spinach, sliced strawberries, slivers of almonds and shrimp with artichoke hearts and polenta that were boiled in their juices with minced garlic, salt, pepper and basil. A side of spring water and a new series on tv and we were set for the day. Topped with grated parmesan and a fresh mustard lemon vinaigrette.
You will need:
- Shrimp (frozen or fresh, deveined and peeled, no tail)
- Shaved almonds
- Polenta (in a log, not box – found in the produce isle typically)
- Lettuce (we used baby greens and / or baby spinach)
- Artichoke hearts (canned)
- Strawberries (or any berry you prefer)
- Basil (dried)
- Grated parmesan
- Yellow mustard
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Minced garlic
- Lemon juice
- Split peas
- Lima beans
- Sweet onion (one)
- Cashews (one or two handfuls – optional)
- Beef broth (no salt added or low sodium)
Take the amount of shrimp you plan on eating and place them (if frozen) in a bowl with lukewarm water to defrost. If already fresh, place them in a pot when the pot has been sufficiently heated with olive oil and minced garlic. Let them sit in the mixture heating almost to completion, then add your artichoke hearts. If they are quartered, use either kitchen shears over the pot and trim them into smaller pieces or, if whole, slice them with a knife first. The polenta will be in the shape of a log, with water packaged inside. Be warned. Slice into bite sized pieces as well using just one third to half of the log depending on how many servings of salad you are making, and place them in the pot, stirring with salt, pepper and dried basil. Let everything sit on medium to medium low while you prepare your soup. You will notice quite a bit of fluid and it’s to be expected.
If you use your soup maker, place lima beans, split peas, a handful (or two) of cashews (optional as the lima beans are going to make the soup sufficiently creamy without the cashews), one quarter to a half of your sweet onion and the beef broth. Press the button for creamy soup and walk away. Otherwise, heat up everything in a stock pot and use your immersion blender or, allow to cool and place in a blender to puree everything.
Get your serving dish ready with lettuce, rinsed and sliced strawberries, grated parmesan and as many sliced almonds as you’d like. Take a slotted spoon and drain your shrimp, artichoke hearts and polenta placing everything delicately over the lettuce.
Toss it all together and in a separate dish, combine a tablespoon of the yellow mustard (or more if you like mustard), two tablespoons of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then, with either a very narrow whisk or a fork, start whisking the mustard and lemon juice together while pouring in your olive oil. I always use three times the olive oil as the amount of mixture already in the cup. Whisking while pouring the olive oil helps to emulsify it. Dress the salad right before serving or, place it on the side allowing everyone to use the amount they’d like. The garlic, seasonings and olive oil the salad fixings were cooked in will transfer a bit into the salad, and adds another layer of flavor.
You don’t need to use the entire amount of salad dressing; it will store very well in your fridge. You may notice the dressing will thicken in the fridge, however, just leave it out on the counter and it will soften up and become a liquid again.
At this point, the soup should be done and you can serve some to let it cool while placing the rest in a tureen. Top the soup with grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil (finishing oil).
I used parsley as well.
In the end, this was a quick comfort meal of the most beautiful colors (now looking back on the photos), creamy soup, soft polenta, crunchy almonds and juicy strawberries… The tangy vinaigrette.
So layered was all the flavors together you don’t realize all you really ate in the end was soup and salad. And the cleanup could not have been easier.
Below you will find the table setting for this meal: Lettuce dishes are from Replacements. Silverware is Napoleon Bee. Crystal is Waterford. Glasses are Crate and Barrel. Napkins, Placemats and Napkin Rings are from Pier 1. Lavender pot is Le Creuset.