Using Restaurant Leftovers for a Killer Dinner - Lamb Bones

bean bowlThis week I was fortunate enough to eat at my friends gorgeous new restaurant, The Book Bindery, on the north side of Queen Anne in Seattle. Fortunately for me, it is a hop, skip and jump from my house. (Unfortunately, no matter how close, I wasn't about to walk the distance in three-inch heels, but, I digress.) The restaurant is stunning, once again prooving that Patric is a marvel with interiors (he also built this and this) and the food was fab. They are a brand new kitchen, so still working out kinks on the menu, but all in all I'm thrilled that Seattle has finally added an upscale restaurant to the mix. No more jeans at dinner, people! As always, after dinner I asked to have my leftovers boxed up. In truth, the only thing I really couldn't part with was the long bone of the lamb shank we shared for dinner. It still had some meat on it, and I knew it would be flavorful in a stock or stew. And now, four days later, there the bone sat on the top shelf of my fridge. If I didn't use it today, I'd soon be banishing it to the compost bin. I hate wasting food and so dinner was born.

I didn't think - just tossed some chopped onions in a saucepan and started sauteeing. Next, I added the bone to brown up a bit. Originally, I figured I'd do some sort of version of bones and beans, but when I went to the pantry..........no beans. I had chick peas, however, so threw those in and it instantly changed the course of a meal. Instead of a brothy-bean-y-herb-y thing, I decided to go for a Moroccan tomato-y-chick pea thing. I add two handfuls of chick peas to the pot, just covered them in water and then added one cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a few sliced apricots and some brunoise carrots. Brought it to boil, reduced it to simmer and voila. Dinner in a few hours. I plan to garnish the final stew with a spoonful of nonfat plain yogurt and some chopped cilantro. I also roasted cauliflower on high heat for 45 minutes to add each bowl. You can also add it to a pot of black lentils (pic above) and use roasted butternut squash as garnish.

This simple (and AWESOME-smelling) meal is a great example of how the pantry should and can dictate what you eat. I didn't ask myself what I wanted for dinner. I just went sleuthing for something that needed to be cooked. No grocery store runs, no extra money spent. And know what? It is making a damn fine meal for a Saturday night!