Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta

I call this “Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta”.

At the end of the day on Friday, I opened my fridge to see what I had to inspire me to prepare dinner. All week long I save little bits of leftover vegetables, sauce and stock – and lo and behold, put them together and dinner presents itself!

This week I had a container of mushrooms that needed to be sauteed. I had some white beans left over from a salad. I had extra garlic chopped. I had a handful of arugula. I had vegetable broth that needed to be used. And I had a cup of homemade marinara sauce. Not to mention that I try to have organic green peas (fresh or frozen) on hand at all times. In addition I had some fun tri- color pasta that I wanted to try.

There’s not really an exact recipe here- just let it flow.

In a large skillet, I lightly sauteed the garlic in EVOO, added the mushrooms with salt to taste. Let that go until the mushrooms were almost done. Next, I added the marinara sauce and some vegetable broth and the beans.

While that was simmering away I cooked the pasta until almost done and then added the peas for the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Back to the sauce- I added the arugula and let it wilt. And a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper.6ABF9778-95E7-4A46-A993-431CAABA1003

Pasta is cooked- so out comes my spider and I scoop the pasta into the skillet with the sauce.img_4046

I let the pasta and sauce cook for a minute or two, added more vegetable broth to taste and- DINNER WAS READY!!

The lesson here is that nothing really goes to waste. And when you cook with vegetables, mostly everything goes well together. So next time that you have a few stalks of broccoli left over, or a small handful of spinach or not enough tomato sauce to stand on it’s own- you can have a new (and thoroughly your own) dinner ready in just a few minutes.

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P.S. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Cauliflower and Kale Soup with Lentils

Brrr….it’s cold outside! So- that means it’s soup time!

This soup is sooooo good for you- cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens and legumes- what more could you want? It’s the ultimate comfort food.

INGREDIENTS:

3 TBS olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 TBS tomato paste

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 cup lentils

4 quarts of vegetable broth- you know, the ones you’ve made using my technique 🙂 If you don’t have vegetable broth, use water and increase the crushed tomatoes to one 14oz can.

6 cups cauliflower florets

1 bunch kale, woody stems removed, and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until soft.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and lentils and cook for another 2 minutes.img_3941

Add the broth, salt and pepper to taste . Please note the amount of salt is dependent on the sodium content of what vegetable broth you use. My homemade broth has not salt- so I use about 2-3 tsp of salt for this recipe.

Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the kale and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes or more until the vegetables and the lentils are soft.

Enjoy!!

Life Lessons Learned From My Son AKA Homemade Vegetable Broth

My son, Dennis is a great cook! We learn a lot from each other. He shamed me when he discovered that I was throwing away my vegetable peelings and scraps.

Homemade vegetable broth is SO SO much tastier than anything you can purchase. I feel that it has a more neutral flavor and thus doesn’t overpower and conflict with whatever your final  product is.

There’s no formal recipe but here’s the method:

Keep a freezer bag handy when cooking.

vegetables for broth

Add to it all your vegetable peelings, cut off ends of vegetables,mushroom stems, stems from herbs, wilted lettuces, the skin from an orange, a few peppercorns.

Keep the bag in the freezer and when full- voila! You have the base for a great broth.

Put the contents in a stockpot, add maybe an onion or carrot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for about an hour.

Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve and portion into containers. Cool thoroughly and freeze until ready to use.

vegetable broth

Hypopastemia

Sometime in the 1970’s, my father came across an article describing an Italian’s physical reaction to being deprived of pasta for more than two days. The syndrome was called “Hypopastemia”. It became the running by-word in our home when we missed our pasta for whatever reason and we were starting to get the “shakes”.

We ate some form of pasta 6 nights of the week – sometimes small pastina in soup, sometimes a tube shaped pasta with a meat sauce (aka gravy), sometimes spaghetti with clam sauce, but most often it was pasta with different vegetables. Saturday was reserved for steak and mashed potatoes, my grandparents concession to living in America.

So now after a long day at work the most comforting meal for me is a bowl of pasta with a lot of vegetables plus a large salad and sauteed beans.

Here is another quick recipe. I call this dish: Pasta Verdure (lush green vegetables).

PASTA VERDURE

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks

Zucchini Matchsticks
Zucchini Matchsticks

½ red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Small head of Kale or Swiss Chard, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped

1 cup of frozen peas

1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO), divided

½ pound Penne Pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

2 TBS balsamic vinegar

METHOD:

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan heat 2TBS of the EVOO.

Green Vegetables
Green Vegetables

Add the onion and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another 2 minutes.

Add the zucchini. Sauté over medium high heat, until the vegetables are wilted and just cooked through. This should take about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, BUT for the last 3 minutes of cooking time add the kale, peas and asparagus. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sautéed vegetables.

Heat over medium heat- adding some of the EVOO and some of the pasta water to loosen the vegetables and make a “sauce”. Add the red pepper flakes, cook for 1 minute.

Add the balsamic vinegar.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves 3-4