The last couple of weeks have been exhausting. Big, stressful deadlines, extra meetings, doctor’s appointments and other events to go to. Oh wait, that’s normal life. (I claim the right to be a little extra exhausted however, because I just passed an exam that my career was basically riding on) At any rate, I shlocked my way through it, only once turning to a frozen pizza for help – though I’ll admit that I also ate spaghetti at practically every meal for several days in a row. Actually during stressful weeks, I often find it a relief to cook in the evening. You get to take out your aggression by taking a knife to the vegetables. You get to prove to yourself that you really are productive by taking a handful of ingredients and transforming them into something tasty. And then, no matter how stressful the day was, you can take some time to sit and eat, just concentrating on the meal and your dining companions, letting other things slip away for the moment.
But, that brings me to today. Today I finally had nothing major going on. I got enough sleep last night. I went for a bike ride through the beautiful fall weather. I had the time to roll up my sleeves, reach for my cutting board, and whip up something absolutely fabulous in the kitchen. And I really, really, really didn’t feel like it. I had no desire to cook. Whatsoever. However, a nagging voice in my mind reminded me that I also didn’t really want to spend the money to go out to eat, now did I, and that I had perfectly good food in the fridge I should use up so as not to be wasteful, and that I would feel much better about myself if I didn’t give in to the corporate food system, blahblahblah…
My lethargy and conscience continued to battle it out, with my conscience gaining a very slight edge as I forced myself to peer into the fridge. I had some leftover chicken, but just reheating it struck me as horrendously dull. I also had spinach, one tomato, one leek, eggs, yogurt, olives, pine nuts, stuff for turkey and cheese sandwiches (ie. Bread, turkey, sharp cheddar cheese, pickles), and my standard extras like garlic, ginger, olive oil and vinegar. What could I do?
I figured I had a few options. I could sautee some garlic and the leek, add the chopped tomato, spinach, chopped chicken and some Italian herbs, and use this as a pasta sauce (sprinkling the pasta with some of the grated cheese, and toasted pine nuts). I could also sautee garlic, ginger, and the leek, add the spinach and chopped chicken and some soy sauce and make a stir fry to serve with rice. Or I could make an omelet with the chicken, spinach, cheese, and tomato. Or, I could make a Greek-style dish by cooking up the leek with garlic, adding the tomato, spinach, and chicken, and some cinnamon, oregano, and a pinch of cayenne and cooking a while longer, then serving it topped with olives and a dollop of yogurt. Except I didn’t have any pita bread, or dill to add to the yogurt – darn.
Then I remembered that I had some leftover tortillas hiding in the bottom drawer, and I had my answer. A quesadilla! Quesadillas are one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers. You can fold all sorts of things up in a tortilla with some cheese; fry it, and within minutes it will come out golden, crispy, gooey, and satisfying.
I sautéed some garlic and the leek in olive oil, and in a couple of minutes once they were soft I added a couple of cups of spinach. I sprinkled the spinach with about ½ tsp. each of coriander and cumin and a little dash of chili powder, along with salt and pepper. Then I let it cook, stirring, until the spinach was wilted, another couple of minutes, and removed the spinach from the frying pan. I added a little pat of butter to the frying pan, let it melt, and put in the tortilla. I covered it with a single layer of thin cheese slices, and then spread the spinach and pieces of chicken over one half. Once the cheese became melty, I folded the cheesey half over to cover the chicken-and-spinached half and let it cook a few moments more before sliding it onto my plate. I decided also to chop up the tomato and sprinkle it with a little chili power, cayenne pepper, and a spritz of lime juice (which I was lucky enough to have, otherwise I would have used lemon, or even orange) to have along side as a funny fresh salsa.
I still wasn’t in the mood to cook. But, before I even really had time to realize I was cooking against my will, I had a delicious dinner right in front of me!