Life Out Of Veggies

February 27, 2008 6:28:52 PM PST
Outsmart your day-old veggies! Are they wilted or dry? No problem. Here with some great ideas was culinary instructor Laurie Zerga.

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Minestrone Soup
Laurie's Winter Version
Serves 6

    Many people think of minestrone as a traditional Italian soup. It is very traditional and yet you will never find the same recipe in any town or village in Italy; and you will find the ingredients vary by what's in season. This is a common combination that I make in the winter with what's in the refrigerator.

    2 Tbsp olive oil
    1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
    1 carrot, chopped
    1 stock celery, chopped (about ½ cup)
    ½ head broccoli, broken into florets
    1 medium potato, cubed
    2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
    ½ cup Swiss chard, washed and roughly chopped
    Salt & pepper to taste
    4 Cups water
    ½ cup pastina or other small pasta - optional
    1 cup cooked beans (canned kidney, cannellini, garbanzo) - optional
    2 Tbsp pesto (optional)
    Grated parmesan cheese


  • Heat heavy stock pot over medium high heat and add olive oil
  • Sauté onions in olive oil until soft, 2-3 minutes
  • Add carrot, celery, broccoli, potato and sauté 1 minute more.
  • Add parsley, Swiss chard, salt, pepper and water.
  • Bring to soup to a boil.
  • Add pasta and cook per package 8-10 minutes usually for small pasta.
  • Add cooked beans and pesto
  • Serve in bowls with a spoon of parmesan cheese and crusty bread.
Note: Cabbage or spinach can be used in place of Swiss chard, vary the vegetables by what your family likes. Peas, green beans or fava beans can be added or used instead of cooked beans. Eliminate broccoli and add zucchini instead... this soup can truly be modified to what is in the refrigerator. You can also use chicken or beef broth and left over meat. What's in the refrigerator? What needs to be used?

Serves 6

    Jambalaya was originally made from leftovers on hand and what was in season on the Mississippi delta. Rice is a commonly used grain in New Orleans cooking. It is grown in the swamp land. Onions, green pepper and celery are called the Trinity and are the basis for almost every Creole and Cajun recipe. This recipe uses the trinity and vegetables various other ingredients to form a delicious one dish meal.

    ¼ cup oil
    2 lbs cooked and cubed chicken (about 1 leftover cooked chicken cut up)
    1 1/2 lb sausage cut into slices

    2 cups onion, chopped (1 large onion)
    ½ cup green pepper, chopped
    ½ cup celery, chopped
    1 Tbsp chopped garlic
    ½ cup chopped parsley
    2 cups canned tomatoes
    1 Tbsp New Orleans Style seasoning (or 1 Tbsp paprika, ½ tsp red pepper flakes)
    1 tsp dried thyme
    1 cups uncooked long-grain rice
    2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    1 cup of greens, chopped
    1 cup green onions chopped


  • In a heavy skillet with a tight lid, heat the oil, and then brown the sausage.
  • Remove from skillet and set aside.
  • Pour off excess drippings.
  • Add the onions and stir over medium heat until soft, then add the green pepper, celery, garlic, parsley, and tomatoes.
  • Stir and add sausage, chicken and seasoning and thyme.
  • Bring to a boil and cook stirring about 5 minutes.
  • Add rice and stock then cover and reduce heat to low for 25 minutes.
  • Uncover, stir rice from top to bottom, and add greens and green onions. Leave on stove top with heat low for another 5 minutes to finish rice if needed.
  • Rice should not be overcooked.
Sauce for Pasta
Serves 6
    Roasted vegetables are a great way to prepare vegetables. They retain their nutrients when cooked at high heat. Roasted vegetables can be served as a side dish or pureed and added to pasta. This is a great combination for late winter.

    2 zucchinis cut into eighths
    2 carrots cut into eighths
    1 onion, cut into eighths
    3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
    1-2 Tbsp olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 400?F
  • Place vegetables in a oven-proof glass dish or roasting pan
  • Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper
  • Roast for 30-40 minutes.
  • Serve as a side dish or puree with canned tomatoes as a sauce for pasta

    Leftovers for pasta:

  • Puree vegetables in a food processor or heavy-duty blender.
  • Add 1 15oz can of tomatoes
  • Blend until smooth
  • Reheat if needed and pour over
  • Pasta of your choice cooked per package instructions.

Storage Tips:
Examples of Vegetables: Refrigerator 30-40 degrees F
(1-2 days)
Red leaf
butter lettuces
corn in the husk

Room temperature: up to 70 degrees F
(1-2 days)

Refrigerator 30-40 degrees F
(3-5 days)
Brussels sprouts
green beans
greens (beet, collard, mustard)
Swiss chard

Refrigerator 30-40 degrees F
(1-2 weeks)

Room temperature up to 70 degrees F
(2 weeks)
Russet potatoes
sweet potatoes