A few times a year, I take off to Halifax to see my family. When this happens, I’m normally gone for 10 days, and at Christmas, it can be even more. I try to keep a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge, and I cook so much I often have leftovers, so before vacationing, I obviously have to clean out the fridge. My pet peeve is rotting food, so I make sure everything that’s perishable is long gone before my plane takes off.
So you’ve got a bunch of unrelated and random things in your fridge, and you’re going out of town. Most of the time you’ll have no idea how to use them up all at once. However, I have the solution – more often than not, a casserole is an easy way to clean out your fridge.
Here’s what’s in my fridge right now, that I’d like to get rid of:
- Artichoke hearts
- Goat cheese
- Sour cream
- Canned corn
- A few stalks of asparagus
- Half an onion
- One egg
- Marble cheese
- Couple cloves of garlic
I lay everything I’ve got out on the counter and start to think. Hmmm… “Mushroom, Spinach, Artichoke and Corn Casserole.” That sounds nice. (The decision process was not nearly that easy… but whatever). So I pull out the frying pan and begin where every good recipe should start: sautéed onions. (If you don’t like onions, get over it, because they’re pretty much the most important ingredient when cooking). Then I add the mushrooms and sauté them a bit too. Once they’re nice and golden, I drain the corn and artichokes and throw them in, still stirring.
Meanwhile, I have two pots of boiling water: one for the spinach, and the other for the pasta I’m putting in the casserole. Any pasta will do, but thick and short ones are best; I’m using fusilli. Once the spinach and pasta are cooked, I drain them and let them cool.
I add about 3/4C of sour cream to the onion, corn, artichoke and mushroom mix, and mix. (I’ve turned off the burner, too). Then I beat an egg and add it too, along with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and nutmeg. (Nutmeg is not just a Holiday spice for egg nogg. It’s commonly used in casseroles and adds a nice sweet and smokey flavour). Then I press two cloves of garlic (another ingredient I think you can rarely overdo) and mix everything all together.
Then I add the drained spinach and the drained pasta. Once everything is well blended, I transfer it to a casserole dish. My Other Half taught me to always use a larger casserole dish than necessary; this way, you get as much crunchy and cheesy topping as possible. I flatten the mixture out, wipe down the sides, and grate some of my marble cheese and sprinkle it over the mixture, covering the top.
Ooops! I’m all done and I realize I haven’t used my goat cheese (which I could add to the top, but I’ve got too much of it, I think) or my asparagus. I also haven’t finished off the marble cheese, so I wrap it and the goat cheese in Saran wrap (separately) and throw it in the freezer. You will soon learn I freeze absolutely everything. The cheese will be as good as new when I transfer it to the fridge upon my return from Halifax.
But I’ve still got half a dozen stalks of asparagus… what to do? Well… My Other Half loves casseroles, and he’s coming over for date night… and he’s generally wonderful… ah ha! I’ve got it! (See the photo for my genius idea… everybody needs a little love sometimes, don’t they?)
Oh, and before I forget, I put my casseroles in for up to an hour at 350C. Watch them closely… the cheese on top will mostly likely tell you when they’re done. I like my cheese crispy and golden, so if you want to turn the oven up to broil at the end, that’s cool too.
And there you have it. That’s how you clean out your fridge. And that’s how you make Spinach, Mushroom, Artichoke and Corn Casserole (what a mouthful… ha-ha-ha… I’m so funny). You don’t really need the corn or the pasta, quite frankly, but the whole point of this meal was to use up what’s in the fridge… and I’d say I was pretty successful!