“Clean the refrigerator chili” was a common dinner in my house growing up. One night, my dad and I pulled out a bunch of leftovers from the fridge and threw everything into a pot. Turns out that there were beans in the fridge, so what came of our creation was a chili-like dish. And our fridge was cleared of leftovers, hence “clean the refrigerator chili.”
I don’t really have a lot of leftovers in my fridge per say, but rather a lack of food. Rent really puts a dent into my grocery shopping money. Ugh. I pulled everything out that I had, and this is what I came up with. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted! I am taking some to work for dinner. And probably the next three nights because it made a huge pot.
I was just going to make lentil soup, because I discovered a small stockpile of lentils in my cabinet, but I also found half a jar of some white rice. I’m not sure what kind it was, but I figured, why not make a risotto-ish dish from the rice and lentils? Here’s what I found from my fridge that you need to make this dish. It sounds really random, but it’s good. I promise!
Clean the Refrigerator Risotto
- 1 cup white rice, arborio would be ideal, since that is the traditional risotto rice, but I don’t think mine was and it turned out just fine!
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1.5 tbls curry
- 1.5 tbls cumin
- 1.5 tbls herbs de provence
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 large pot of warm water
- 1 tbls butter
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in pot until it coats the bottom of it. Add rice, curry, cumin, herbs de provence, salt and pepper and stir until all the rice kernels have been coated with oil and spices. Add the lentils and garlic and stir until garlic is fragrant.
Add white wine and step back! The hot pan makes the wine spit a little bit. Stir until the wine has evaporated. Add tomato sauce and stir until most of the tomato liquid has absorbed.
Add water on spoon/ladel full at a time to the pot of rice. Stir until the liquid has absorbed completely and then add more. Continue to add water until the rice and lentils are cooked through and soft.
Add butter and parmesan cheese to finish the risotto. Inhale!
I’ll be honest when I say that I was really surprised that this turned out so well. It was such a random assortment of things that I put into the pot, I’ve only made risotto one other time and I had never cooked with herbs de provence. I received those as a gift and forgot about them until I was rummaging around in my spice drawer.
Adding tomato sauce was key. It gave the risotto a rich, earthy flavor. The lentils bumped up the protein a little bit too.
I am learning the merits of butter. All you need is a smidge and it takes the dish to a whole new level. This was an incredibly pleasant dinner at work.
I have a pot to clean though…