My cooking has reached a point where I am as likely to wander into the kitchen, see what's available, and whip something up on the fly as I am to plan what I am going to make and shop accordingly. This pleases me for several reasons. For one thing, there is a certain freedom in knowing that I have the experience and palate to look at several disparate items and figure out how to put them together into a cohesive, flavorful dish.
For another, it allows me to buy ingredients based on what looks freshest, costs less, and offers me the most inspiration. And when I do buy the ingredients for particular dishes, I can find quick uses for any leftover items.
This Skillet Sausage, Cabbage and Potato is a good example. I had a quarter of a cabbage left from an earlier dish, and I almost always buy more potatoes than I need for any given dish. I almost always buy cabbage for specific uses, and it's not something we ate often in our house when I was a child, so I'm not used to dealing with extra.
But I had the cabbage, and one russet potato, and some vague idea of putting the two together. I realized I could round it out with the Italian Sausage I had in the freezer and some swiss chard left over from one of my more ambitious pizzas.
I didn't write down what I was doing so I can't provide a recipe here, but I can describe the technique that I used, which can easily be translated to just about any ingredients you have handy.
I chopped half an onion, cubed the potato and thinly sliced the cabbage wedge. I heated a little bit of grapeseed oil in the pan and added the sausage and let it render for a minute or so, then I added the onion, potato and cabbage. I let it all cook together until the sausage was browned, seasoning it with a little salt and pepper. When the sausage was browned, I added a 14.5-oz. can of diced tomatoes, thyme and oregano. I brought it to a simmer, lowered the heat, covered it and let it cook for about 15 minute, until the cabbage and potato were tender. I added the Swiss chard and cooked it for another 5 minutes.
With the sausage, this made a satisfying main dish. Without the sausage, it would make just as satisfying a side dish.