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Getting creative with kielbasa in the kitchen

  • KAREN CIMMS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Creative Kielbasa is an odd dish to make, but it's very tasty.
    KAREN CIMMS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Creative Kielbasa is an odd dish to make, but it's very tasty.
Published March 27. 2013 05:03PM

I've taken to calling this dish "Creative Kielbasa," because it's shorter than its original name, which is "What to make when there is nothing in the house to eat casserole."

Credit for this dish goes to my husband, Jim. He first made it about 28 years ago. It was a late Sunday afternoon, and we had just driven home from upstate New York.

Back in the "old" days, grocery stores would close around 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and other than a corner pizzeria and a seedy bar, there was little in the way of fast food in our rural town.

While I dealt with an overtired 7-year-old and a cranky 2-year-old, Jim scouted the refrigerator and pantry. We needed something for dinner fast.

All we had was frozen kielbasa, eggs, rice, canned vegetables and whatever was ripe in the garden. I lobbied for the pizza, but Jim relishes a challenge.

By the time I had the kids cleaned up and calmed down, dinner was on the table and it was good!

First, he sautéed a little garlic and onions, then added the kielbasa, which he had cut into bite-sized pieces. From the pantry he pulled a can of whole potatoes, sliced them up and added them to the pot. (Now let me clarify that the only reason there were canned potatoes in my pantry is that Jim loves them as a snack with salt and pepper. I'm not a big fan of canned vegetables of any kind, but I do love those potatoes in this dish.)

Jim continued his little experiment and added some white rice (yep, two starches) and enough liquid to cook it. While that simmered on the stove about 20 minutes, he walked out to the garden and picked a couple plum tomatoes, chopped them up and tossed them in as well.

When the rice was tender, he broke an egg into the entire mixture, stirred it in, and voilé!

We were all hungry, so everyone seemed to enjoy dinner. The real test would be trying it again on a regular night, without the stress of sitting in a car for three hours or feeling like we were starving to death.

The second time we made it, the odd combination of ingredients seemed even stranger, but upon tasting it, I had to proclaim, "This is really good!"

This meal has become one of our easy go-to dinners. When I make it, I typically follow the original ingredients, but when Jim makes it, he may throw in some additional vegetables. The dish photographed here includes red and green peppers, sautéed with the onions and garlic, and a drained can of mushrooms tossed in at the end and heated through.

If you are looking for something a little different, or find yourself staring at an empty pantry, you just may want to give this "creative kielbasa" a try.

Creative Kielbasa

Serves 4-6

1 kielbasa, cubed

1 can sliced potatoes

Half cup rice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 cup water

1 plum tomato, chopped (or 2 tablespoons tomato paste)

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon oil

Half cup red and green pepper, chopped, if desired

1 small can sliced mushrooms, if desired

Sauté kielbasa in oil with garlic and onion until onion is transparent. (If adding peppers, add with garlic and onion.) Add potatoes, rice, water and chopped tomato or tomato paste. Cook for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir egg into mixture (and canned mushrooms if desired) and heat through until cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I like to serve this with a side of canned peaches. The sweetness of the peaches complements the flavor of the kielbasa.

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