I used to really, really despise eating leftovers. Never would I take them from a restaurant, or reheat something I made from the night before. I'm not sure where this disdain for leftovers came from, but I bet it's the same with a lot of people. After all, what's more boring that having the exact same thing as you did the night before? Unless it's a dish that only gets better the next day, chances are you're not exactly mesmerized by the prospect of repeats.
Welcome to zero-waste cooking with a twist! I've started experimenting with foods I have in the fridge and pantry while them with produce from the garden, and I'm very inspired to create new dishes in the spirit of not wasting perfectly good food. Last night's supper is a prime example, and I hope you'll get some ideas from it!
Dallas Farmer Gal's Refrigerator Pasta
8-10 ounces of pasta (I chose whole wheat fusilli)
White wine you've already opened and enjoyed most of
Whatever veggies you've randomly got in the fridge
Leftover chicken, shredded, if you want a touch of protein
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 tbsp heavy cream (Texas milk, as it were)
Step 1: Analyze your fridge. You can see I like to keep things in clear containers so I can really assess what I've got to work with. Here I'm grabbing diced onions from my husband's Sunday morning migas brunch and some bell peppers I'd sliced to nosh with hummus I'd made.
Step 2: Lay it out and organize your portions. I had some cherry tomatoes we'd been snacking on that were on the verge of tanking, plus some broccoli, green beans, and zucchini that I always have on hand because they're nice for side dishes and quick to cook. Garlic in the garlic keeper (huge must!), and a kitchen compost bin with a lid for any waste I can't reuse. The kitchen waste gets taken to the compost bin at the end of the night when I clean up.
Step 3: Cook things the way you are comfortable cooking them. Here is my order for this dish:
-boiled the green beans for about 5 minutes, then added the broccoli for about 2. Drained them and set aside
-cooked the pasta and set aside, reserving about 1 cup of starchy pasta water
-started by sauteing the leftover onion and the garlic, then added the cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers
-wine time! I added about 1/4 cup of white wine to the pan to deglaze it, when waited for it to reduce to a couple of tablespoons
-added the cooked chicken to heat it through, since it was cold from the fridge
-debated on heavy cream...
Step 4: Place everything together and stir! The reserved pasta water was added slowly to make the pasta dish smooth, and I tasted for seasoning. It was delicious, but needed a little something. Enter the heavy cream! Two tbsp and a thorough stir, plus added salt and pepper gave this dish the final touch.
Step 5: Proper portion size. I wouldn't be a good holistic nutritionist if I told you to fill your bowl up to the brim, because no matter how healthy the dish is, it still contains calories which you want to control. Another note: if you're adding a touch of cream, please skip the cheese. Ain't no reason to double up on potential artery cloggers, even if they are delicious.
Enjoy! Let me know what dishes you like to make with your leftovers in the comments below.
Till next time,
Dallas Farmer Gal