Four Dinners

So after the brunch and eating brunch leftovers for a day or two, I still had leftovers to deal with, including at least a pound of asparagus, some roasted and some raw.  As much as I love asparagus, I was quickly getting tired of it.  I didn’t have much money to grocery shop until the next payday, so I made some kitchen transformations.

I’d been wanting to make calzones for a while, but I never have the time to do a full-on yeast-risen crust.  I’ve tried a couple “quick” crusts before and never had much success, but I thought one more try might do the trick.  So I let the dough rise for just a short time and hoped for the best.  They turned out pretty well!  By no means was it the best calzone or crust I’ve ever had, but for having dinner ready within an hour including my slow kitchen pace, I was very pleased.  The dough even poofed up a bit in the oven, check out the outside crust!

The fillings were chopped spicy italian seitan sausage, roasted asparagus, red onion, red pepper, shredded carrot, nutritional yeast and marinara.  I normally like to have the marinara on the side and dip, but I didn’t have much left so inside it went.

Quick Calzones

Makes 2.

1 tsp active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs olive oil
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup bread flour

In a medium bowl dissolve yeast in the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, olive oil and flour. Add more flour as needed to form a workable dough and knead a couple minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes, during which the dough should rise a bit. Preheat oven to 400 F. Divide dough into 2 portions. Using a rolling pin and extra flour, roll each portion to about 1/8 inch. The dough should be double the desired calzone size. Layer fillings on half of each piece of dough, leaving a half inch around the edges to seal. Fold dough over onto toppings and crimp edges. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes.

Note: Any combination of all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour or bread flour will work.

After using up most of the leftovers in the calzones, I still had some red potatoes and a bunch or raw asparagus to deal with.  I knew I wanted to mash the potatoes.  And I knew I didn’t want any more asparagus in asparagus form, so I decided to turn it into soup.  I made a really good creamy asparagus soup a while back, but it used potatoes as the creamy part, and I can’t do two potatoes in one meal.  I poked around online and found some nice looking recipes that used a “milk” broth thickened with flour, but I didn’t have the patience for that.  Then the sausage gravy from VWAV popped in my head, and I decided that white beans and asparagus would probably blend nicely together.  And they did.

This soup is pretty mild, spice-wise, which was what I was going for.  And it tastes good enough that you probably won’t mind that it resembles a bodily secretion.

Cream of Asparagus and White Bean Soup

Serves 2-3.

½ large yellow onion, sliced
½ tsp minced garlic
2 cups water
2 Tbs chicken-style broth powder
¾ – 1 lb asparagus, thick ends removed
1 15.5 oz can white beans, drained
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place onion, garlic, water and broth powder in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes. Add asparagus and simmer 7 more minutes. Place remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Carefully add asparagus mixture and blend till smooth. Pour soup back into the pot and heat a couple minutes, until warmed through.

That got me through the end of the week, until payday.  Then I ate like a piggy all weekend and ate out Monday night, so Tuesday I was craving something super healthy.  Bean salad was sounding really good to me, but the one I normally make is pretty plain, and I wanted to pack as much good stuff in as I could.  So I came up with Mediterranean Four Bean Salad.

Served with baby spinach and wheat pita.

Mediterranean Four Bean Salad

1/2 16 oz bag frozen petite lima beans, thawed
14.5 oz can green beans, drained
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
15.5 oz can kidney beans, drained
6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
Juice of a large lemon (about 1/4 c)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
heaping Tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil

In a large bowl, combine first eight ingredients (lima beans through red onion). In a separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients (lemon juice through basil). Pour dressing over bean mixture and stir to combine.

Serves 6-8.

I’ve had my eye on the jerk recipe from VWAV for quite some time, but for some reason I always thought it would be complicated.  It’s not.  At all.  It’s about as easy as they come, if you have a blender.  I’ve been on a tempeh kick, so it became jerk tempeh.

Our local Jamaican joint makes really good vegan food, and it’s always super spicy and pretty oily.  And a tad pricy for me.  They serve entrees with rice and peas, cabbage and carrots so I decided to try to healthify that.  Again with the help of the internets (and having nothing to do at work) I learned how to make rice and peas, and adapted it for brown rice. 

I also steamed some collard greens, which I have decided I like WAY more plain and steamed than kale.  Oh, and next time I make the jerk I’ll double the sauce, because really, that’s the best part and there should be enough sauce to drown everything else on the plate.

Jamaican Brown Rice & Peas

Yeilds 6 cups.

2 c medium grain brown rice
14 oz can coconut milk (1 1/2 c)
2 1/2 c water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
few dashes freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbs chicken-style broth powder
15.5 oz can pigeon peas, drained (sub kidney beans if you can’t find them)
1 whole green onion (3 or 4 green parts), finely chopped, some green pieces
reserved for garnish
habanero/scotch bonnet pepper

In a large pot, mix together the first eight ingredients (rice through broth powder). Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the pigeon peas and green onions, stir, then place the hot pepper whole on top of the mixture. (The pepper will not make the rice spicy, it only provides flavor.) Simmer 30-35 more minutes, or until liquid has been mostly absorbed. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Remove the hot pepper, fluff and serve.


  1. Steffi said

    woah… I should make calzones too, for a change. Can’t wait for getting some nice green asparagus, either (we usually only get the white variety but I found a store that sells green, too)!

  2. Monika K said

    These four dinners look fabulous! The soup especially – I think asparagus is even on sale…

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