Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Using Up All the Bits and Pieces

How many times do you find yourself with odd amounts of ingredients from a meal that aren’t enough to make a whole new dish with but more than you feel comfortable throwing out? I think this accounts for the largest portion of waste in my kitchen. And in this economy, waste just isn’t something I’m willing to accept.

I found myself with a few odds and ends from my catered lunch and not a lot of motivation to cook. I had also received a free sample of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cooking Cream, which had been sitting in the fridge for about a week. Thus my plan was hatched.

Using a package of gnocchi I had on hand (This is a staple in my house. If it isn’t in yours, a cheese ravioli, or even just some plain Jane pasta would work), I threw together this yummy little dish in about 15 minutes, which amounted to the time it took to bring the water to a boil and cook the gnocchi.

I put together a recipe here for you, but just understand that this was truly a trip around the kitchen to see what was around and could be used. I just wanted you to get an idea of how you can go about using up all of those bits and pieces.

Mish Mash Pasta

1 package gnocchi (or other pasta), cooked according to package directions
½ shallot (left over from my catering job), finely diced
2 Tbs olive oil (pantry staple)
1 small zucchini (found in produce drawer in the fridge), cubed
¼ cup white wine (pantry staple)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (left over from my catering job), halved
¼ cup fresh basil (left over from my catering job), cut into chiffonade
1 cup cooked chicken (left over from my catering job), diced
1 container Italian herb Philly ‘cooking cream’
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (left over from my catering job)
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped (left over from my catering job)

While water is coming to a boil for the pasta, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and shallot. Sauté until shallot begins to soften. Increase heat to medium-high and add zucchini. Cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini begins to brown. Deglaze pan with white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add cherry tomatoes, basil and chicken to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low (your water’s probably boiling about now and the pasta can be added). Spoon in cooking cream and slowly combine the ingredients. When pasta finishes cooking, add to the pan (Don’t bother draining all the pasta water. Just use a slotted spoon to fish out your pasta and add to the sauce - a little bit of water won’t hurt).

Stir until pasta is fully incorporated into the sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Top with toasted nuts and serve immediately.

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