Freezable, transportable, one pot dinners -suggestions needed (no tomato sauce, please)
About once a week, I travel to another city after work (by train) to have dinner with a friend. Because I arrive pretty late we don't want to cook from scratch. He loves to eat and I love to cook so I offered to bring dinner, and he provides the wine.
Because I go there straight form work, I bring something that I made earlier in the week and froze. Because of limited space in my bag, I don't want a lot of different containers with different dishes. So far I've brought minestrone-type soups (made into a meal with bread and salad), chili, and pasta sauces (we cook the pasta on the night and heat the sauce - ragu Bolognese or meatballs in tomato sauce is what I've made so far).
I'm getting tired of these tomato-based sauces and could use some ideas for either:
non tomato- pasta sauces that have both vegetables and protein,
soups and stews that are not too much like minestrone or lentil soups and that are a meal in itself (maybe with an easy starch added like rice, pasta, or couscous.
I'm very much a 'buy fresh stuff every day, cook it and eat it' kind of cook, I hardly ever cook for the freezer (and hate left overs)... so I need some inspiration!
I've made pot roast and frozen it for new parents to keep in the freezer and have once the steady stream of ready-made meals stops. Both couples RAVED about it for weeks afterward so I don't think anything was lost by freezing it. All they had to do was boil a pot of water for buttered egg noodles and serve.
I cook meals for my parents, freeze them, and when I see them every 3 months or so, I do a "freezer dump."
Things that have worked well for this arrangement:
Massaman Curry, in fact any Indian stewed dish. I keep the "toppings" in separate bags so they can add them at the last minute. They cook the pre-portioned raw Basmati rice while the dinner heats.
Lasagna: both meat and veggie, with or without tomato sauce. Parents toss a salad while it is baking.
Quiche: so far we have found that the standard quiches fare better than more "fancy" ingredients. Again, parents toss a salad. [I don't know if they eat this at room temp or warmed.]
Stews: They have enjoyed beef and lamb stew immensely. Since they prefer mashed potatoes, I freeze some in a separate container, but that is easy to make upon arrival.
I think that delivering frozen food during the summer is harder. Summer is all about lighter, fresher ingredients so you might focus on composed salads with bread, lighter vegetables soups with crostini, etc.
the Silver Palate original recipe book --- Navarin of Lamb (the recipe calls for some ingred that are now easily avail fresh etc. I think the snow peas is one of them. Also - i don't flame the ingredients (as called for)
but the jelly is essential.
oh - and corn chowder? can doll it up w/ shrimp at serving time.
You could do a skillet lasagna by using the small "Mafaldi" noodles. They look like lasagna noodles. Break them up and use the same ingredients as for classic lasagna only no layering.
Swiss Steak or Chicken Marsala freeze well. Cook a big batch for dinner one night and freeze the leftovers for your booty call. :-) Just Kidding.
Almost any kind of a crockpot meal would freeze well.
re: Hank Hanover
I've done a baked pasta with mafalda, lots of steamed, drained and chopped spinach or other greens, sauteed green onions, lemon zest and dill, then tossed with ricotta and feta cheeses (reserve some feta for sprinkling on top. I don't know about freezing it, but it could be taken onto the train cold, in a container inside a cooler with freezer packs, and heated gently then broiled to brown the top layer of cheeses.
You can also do a one-pot stew of chickpeas, cauliflower, potatoes and other veggies. The spicing can be Spanish (saffron, chorizo, onions, garlic, smoked paprika, chopped fresh parsley) or Indian (simple curry powder or else your own blend of garam masala plus turmeric, onions, garlic and ginger).
There are tomatoes in this, but it's still pretty different: brown and crumble some Mexican-style (the raw, soft one) chorizo. Toss in some diced onion and red bell pepper. When they're nearing soft, throw in some diced garlic. Stir in a jar of petite diced tomatoes and a dash of smoked paprika and let simmer for ten minutes or so. Add chickpeas (canned or cooked from dry, whichever you prefer) and finish simmering. Serve with crusty bread and a poached egg (since you said you boil pasta, I figured you could poach an egg.
Or, last week, I wanted pasta but it was gorgeous out so I wanted to grill. So I charred a red pepper and then put it into a plastic bag to steam into roasted red pepper. I grilled cherry tomatoes and chicken thighs. Once everything was done, I chopped it all up and sauteed it a few minutes with some shallots, garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper. Once the pasta was cooked, I used some reserved pasta water to finish it off. It was summery and great, and would keep well.
And this is the season for a corn, basil and bacon sauce too!