With no heart for crowded supermarket aisles on Sunday, putting dinner together turned out to be a dig through the pantry, a juggling of ingredients uncovered, and a bit of improvising at the stove. But that’s fine with me, since I’m the type of “cook” who enjoys dreaming up a mix & match without benefit of a recipe or list of planned ingredients. If push comes to shove there is always on hand a stash of staple ingredients with the potential of a tasty and healthy if not knock-out entree. Times are many when following a cookbook recipe is exactly the exercise I enjoy, but there are equal times when invention is even more fun, and if not delicious then at least interesting and illuminating in a cook-wise sense.
The three primary ingredients that stood out in my Sunday improvisation were shrimp, pasta and a combination of vegetables. It was pure luck the shrimp were on hand, something bought Saturday, stashed in the refrigerator and quickly forgotten. Pasta in one shape or another is always in my pantry, something watched over as closely as salt and olive oil and coffee. This time is was farfalle, or bow-tie pasta. Next, I dug out a stalk of broccoli, part of a cauliflower, snow peas and mushrooms, and also found half a bag of ‘broccoli cole slaw,’ a mix of shoestring broccoli, carrots and red cabbage.
UNNAMED PASTA MEDLEY
At least ½ a box of farfalle or penne pasta
Dozen or more fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
½ cup diced green pepper
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
2 cups or more of mixed fresh vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, mushrooms and yellow squash
¼ bag of packaged broccoli cole slaw
½ cup roughly chopped mushrooms
8 oz can of Rotello chopped tomato with green chilies, drained
6-7 pimento stuffed olives sliced in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
5-6 shredded basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
Put a large pot of water seasoned with salt and olive oil on to boil. In a large wok heat the olive oil on medium-high heat and add the vegetables, holding the mushrooms back until the end. Stir fry the vegetables adding the Italian seasoning and salt and pepper until almost but not quite soft. Add the pasta to the boiling water and set the timer to al dente; the box has a suggested time. Add the mushrooms and shrimp to the vegetables and cook a few more minutes. Drain and rinse the cooked pasta and add it to the wok along with the basil, olives and chopped tomato with green chilies. Mix well and allow to cook on low heat for no more than 3-4 minutes.
This is a colorful dish and very filling, so the addition of a side salad and maybe a piece of French bread with olive oil should make a delicious and bountiful evening meal. Bon appétit!