I used only random leftovers and pantry items. I helped host a party a couple nights ago, so I still had tons of party food left. Most of it is good as leftovers, but I wasn't looking forward my standard, homemade hummus and raw vegetables.
So I took the olives and hummus and pureed those together to make an olive hummus to snack on while I cooked. Then I took the remainders of the veggie tray (broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots) and steamed those. Then I made a green curry-like sauce for the vegetables. First, I sauteed half an onion (something I had in the back of my fridge), a couple shallots (leftover from an international grocery haul), 2 jalapenos (plucked from my mom's garden in the peak of summer, but forgotten in the bottom of my crisper ever since), a couple cloves of garlic, and about an inch of ginger. Meanwhile, I cooked a pound of whole wheat linguine. After the vegetables were sauteed, I added a few tablespoons of green chili paste, and a few seconds later, a can of coconut milk, half a cup of vegetable stock, a tablespoon of sugar, a couple tablespoons of fish sauce, and a bruised stem of lemongrass (also leftover from my international grocery haul). Simmered for a second, and then I tossed it with the pasta and vegetables. I added a quarter cup of the pasta water at the end as well, and cooked it for a minute or two until it thickened up. After plating it, I sprinkled on some (slightly wilted) chopped cilantro and green onions, chopped peanuts, a squeeze of lime, and a heap of sauerkraut.
Okay, so I did have a ridiculous amount of (almost) fresh produce on hand, but using most of it up in one delicious dish is my definition of the perfect improvised dinner. Plus, I'm normally a recipe person, so actually improvising and making something that tastes as good as a good recipe would is a major win.
Feel free to respond with your favorite improvised recipes!