What does conventional mean to you?

Standard? Normal? Regular? Ordinary? Accepted by society? Average? Or perhaps wholesome?

There is conventional furniture, conventional clothing, conventionally attractive celebrities, conventional methods of mess-free mango consumption…and yes, conventional meals!

What I think is the perfect example of a conventional meal: Whole wheat bread turkey sandwich with lettuce/tomato/avocado/mustard, a carton of milk, an apple (or baby carrots), and perhaps a little treat for dessert. In other words, sitting down and having a common combo meal starring all your vital food groups (whole grains, protein, good fats, veg/fruit, dairy) for maximum satiation potential (and since we’re all human, something sweet to sum it up).

There’s nothing wrong of course with having a lunchbox-tailored conventional meal; I do it every pink moon or so, however I sometimes prefer to live life on the wild side (in terms of my meals…and choices in footwear); and when something is conventional, I don’t hink it necessarily means it’s efficient; or sometimes you can have a meal composed of all the vital food groups; except pizzazzed with a flourishing of fusion (courtesy of whatever leftovers may be subsiding in your refrigerator).

For instance; what do you make if you find yourself with:

-A pack of ground turkey

-Leftover roasted aubergines

-A plethora of fresh herbs needing instant usage

-A Costco-sized box of tomatoes in danger of going rancid in the near future

-Leftover spaghetti squash?

Allow me to assist, mes ami(e)s:

Chop them all up (roasted aubergine, fresh tomatoes, thyme, Italian parsley) and heat up a saucepan with some olive oil and a clove of Dorot’s frozen garlic

While that’s sizzling, mix the ground turkey (I use the extra lean one) with an egg, some ketchup (just a teensy bit), more fresh thyme, black pepper, chili flakes, and more fresh parsley; proceed to roll into meatballs

Toss the tomatoes into the pan (after washing your hands thoroughly of course), add spices (chili flakes, black pepper, dried oregano) and wait until everything comes to a sizzle and some liquid accumulates. Proceed to drop in the meatballs, and once they near cooking completion, add the aubergine, fresh herbs, and some Trader Joe’s chili sauce to up the heat ante

Yum. Pour over leftover spaghetti squash and sprinkle with some balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and grana padano:

Buon Appetito!


Then let’s say it’s a Tuesday afternoon and you find yourself with a little bit of leftover Thai (but not enough to make a major meal out of), more herbs, some garlic sauce, and some leftovers your mother left behind- what do you do? Make a fusion meal (who says you can’t eat mismatched foods at the same meal? People do it at buffets all the time)!

Dave’s Killer Bread POWERSEED topped with Lebanese garlic spread, chopped parsley and black pepper with leftover Dang’s Chicken Pad Phet splattered with Sriracha. Gotta tell you the toast/garlic spread/parsley is a KILLER combo

And a side of Saudi-style Foul Mudammas (spiced fava bean dip) topped with some of Joann’s incredible cherry tomatoes, parsley, cumin, and olive oil…

…And dessert was a bunch of frozen grapes

And if you noticed above I said those cherry tomatoes were from Joann’s? Joann is a good family friend as well as the head of Academic English Studies at the college I just graduated from; in fact she helped teach my VERY MOTHER how to speak better English back when my mama was in college! Crazy, huh?

She also is an avid world traveler and an incredible cook with a garden full of all the incredible bounty you can imagine- everything from these sweet-as-cherries cherry tomatoes to blackberries, herbs, haricots vert…you name it! And, she was so kind as to have my mother and I over for dinner the other night:

Hors d’oeuvres (along with unpictured pistachios):

So incredibly delicious that my standard for blackberries has just eliminated a good 96% of the material sold at your local grocer

And the dinner spread:

Pulao with chicken and raspberry


Cherry tomato, cucumber, and herb salad
Barbecued capsicum
Grilled brussel sprouts and Japanese aubergine
Haricots verts topped with a smattering of goat cheese

 And as a palate-cleanser:

Watermelon with mint

Sheer delight! There is nothing I love more than making a meal out of garden produce!


How do you define conventional?

What are some unconventional meals you have had as of late? Any unusual combinations you like or good ideas for leftover usage?


18 thoughts on “Unconventional

    1. Haha I know I know, I need to get back to Paris Fashion Week coverage and eating out- I’ve been so busy that eating leftover stuff at home has been most convenient. On that note, I wish you were still in Portland; there is an event at OMSI on October 10th with Naomi Pomeroy of Beast and some Portland author who wrote some book on Palestine or something that I REALLY want to go to and you would’ve been the perfect companion

  1. Blackberries, blackberries, blackberries!

    What I immediately think of with conventional is an American Thanksgiving dinner (roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, and pumpkin pie with a glass of milk). Just very common, expected, and what you’re *supposed* to eat at a certain point. But why be conventional if you can just as well be unconventional? 😛

  2. I love unconventional meals! Convention for me is extremely similar to yours.. the all American turkey sammy.. or pb and j! Though I love the slightly unconventional combination of almond butter +apricot jam. Little things to switch ‘er up!

  3. Why hello there, Ms Jamie Oliver- these are making me HANGRY! My definition of conventional meals is pretty much akin to yours! The ultimate conventional meal for me is pb sandwich with carrots & apple slices! As much as I enjoy such meals, unconventional meals are a lot more enjoyable..especially as I tend to be pleasantly surprised at how well the randomness of flavors pair with each other! Last night’s dinner was a twist on the convention that is ‘spaghetti bolognese’…zucchini ‘spaghetti’ topped with veggie mince in salsa (peace out marinara sauce) and topped with Greek yogurt (cheese who?)..Italian meets Mexican :)!

    1. Ms. Jamie Oliver! I love itttt…your comments always literally make me LOL (which i suppose would be LLOL)…ok I need to stop. Zucchini spaghetti…yummmm I had that in Belgium once1 Italian meets Mexican! As a product of an inter-cultural marriage myself I am very much into food marriages as well 😉

  4. Everything I eat is unconventional…mostly because a. I don’t have time to think of things in advance and b. I lack your amazing cooking abilities!

    I love spaghetti squash. I just need someone to make it for me. 🙂 If only you were a bit closer….

  5. i always have some homemade pesto and some kind of grain in the fridge. so what i do with leftovers is mix my veggies with the grain and add pesto, nuts/ seeds/sprouts/beans. always tasty! and you can mix up the grain and veggies every day. I have been travelling a lot so always find new things to try and just cannot stick to conventional things. except the classic dal &r rice in india (my location right now).

    1. Mmm pesto adds so much zing to food! And I love playing with pestos- sundried tomato, parsley, arugula…yum. There are so many forms of amazing dal- tarka, makhni, yellow, etc. Where in India are you?

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