A stretch of cool, wet weather had me craving comfort food – roasted meat, buttery vegetables, toasty pastry, melty cheese. Besides, we’ve been eating out a little more than we ought to lately, so when we finally found a quiet weekend, I knew I needed some time in the kitchen.
Saturday evening’s dinner for two was simple but satisying. A small chicken roasted with herbs and white wine; red-skinned smashed potatoes (whipped with butter, cream, garlic and parmesan petals); accompanied by a mix of lightly brined Brussel sprouts and fiddleheads, pan-fried in more butter with crisp strips of prosciutto.
With just two of us to feed, there was plenty left over. So, with more time to play on Sunday, and a little creativity, we stretched one great meal into four. Now we’re heading into another busy workweek with the kind of leftovers you can actually look forward to eating.
Meal 1: Roast chicken, skins-in smashed potatoes, pan-fried Brussel sprouts and fiddleheads
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Rinse and pat dry a roasting chicken. Rub inside and out with a mixture of olive oil and your favourite herbs (thyme, rosemary and basil are my favourites), plus salt and pepper to taste. Place in a roasting pan, pour about half a bottle of white wine over top, then feel free to drink the rest while the chicken roasts at 375F for about 75 minutes.
Skins-in smashed potatoes
Scrub four large, red-skinned potatoes. Place in a medium pot and cover with cool water. Boil until tender. Remove from heat, drain, add ¼ cup butter, ¼ cup cream, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, plus 1 clove crushed garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Mash until light and fluffy
Pan-fried Brussel sprouts and fiddleheads with prosciutto
Thoroughly was sprouts and fiddleheads. Trim bottom ends from eat. Remove bitter outer leaves from the sprouts and slice in half. Soak sprouts and fiddleheads in a light brine (mix 3 tbsp. salt and 2 tbsp. maple syrup or honey into 4 cups of water) for about two hours. Drain and pat dry. Meanwhile heat 2 tbsp. butter in a large frying pan. Add 1 clove crushed garlic and three pieces of prosciutto, sliced into thin strips (bacon will also work). Add vegetables and cook until tender and slightly browned.
Meal 2: Chicken Caesar salad with pan-fried croutons
This one is easy.
Croutons and bacon strips
Cut stale bread into 1-inch cubes. Place in a Ziploc bag with 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar and some dried Italian herbs. Shake well. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high. Shake bread cubes into hot pan, then stir, shake and flip constantly until croutons are crispy on all sides. (Keep an eye out – these are easy to burn.) Shake onto a cookie sheet or similar to cool.
Wipe out pan and return to heat. Fry three strips of bacon (prosciutto will also work) until crispy. Remove from pan and let cook before slicing or crumbling for salad.
Assembling the salad
Wash 1 small head Romaine lettuce and tear into strips. Coat with your favourite homemade or store-bought Caesar dressing (my recipe changes a little every time, but it’s always good to have some anchovy paste, fresh lemon and parmesan on hand). Top with slices of cold roasted chicken, crumbled bacon, croutons and shaved parmesan.
Meal 3: Chicken-and-feta ravioli with Pomodoro sauce
A little trickier, but worth the fuss.
You’ll need about a dozen fresh lasagna noodles – either homemade or store-bought, each about 12”x3”.
For the filling:
- 1 cup leftover chicken
- 1 peeled carrot
- 2 pieces of celery
- 1 large shallot or small onion
- 1 red pepper
Mix in 1 egg, ¼ cup fresh oregano and ½ cup crumbled ricotta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the ravioli:
Cut each lasagna noodle into three pieces. Place 1 tbsp. filling in the centre of each piece, lightly dampen outer edges, fold noodle in half and pinch edges together. Ensure each ravioli is sealed. Once all ravioli are assembled, place in a large pot of boiling water until pasta floats – about 4-6 minutes. Drain and prepare to serve.
For the Pomodoro sauce:
In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 clove crushed garlic. Add 1 large can diced tomatoes, three fire-roasted red peppers and a handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced. Combine over medium each until slightly thickened. Ladle sauce over ravioli and serve.
Meal 4: Mini chicken and feta pot pies
This is an easy way to use up leftover smashed potatoes and extra ravioli filling. Make your own puff pastry, if you’re so inclined, but I’ve had great results using frozen.
Butter six ramekins. Role puff pastry into a log and cut into six equal pieces. (This works best if pastry is still cool to the touch.) Press each piece into a flat circle, then gently stretch it to cover the bottom and sides of the ramekin. Place 2 tbsp. ravioli filling into each cup, then top with 2 tbsp. leftover smashed potatoes. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, until pastry is crispy and golden brown.
So that’s it. A couple of hours worth of work, and enough great meals to last well into the work week. Enjoy!