Monday, January 11, 2010

Clean out the Crisper Pasta and Vegetables

This is a dish that I make many Mondays, including today, since I go food shopping on Tuesdays. That way, I've used up the old vegetables sitting in the crisper. If I don't do that, then I'll put the new vegetables in on top of the old ones, and the old ones will quickly go bad, wasting the food as well as my money and time. And since I am eating out of my pantry this month, I don't want to waste anything!

So pull out all of the vegetables from the crisper and see what you have. Almost any vegetable that can be sauteed will work here - lettuce and cucumbers won't. But I regularly use tomatoes, peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and anything else that might be hiding in there, or that I might have bought thinking I'd make something specific from it, but didn't.

If you have tomatoes, you'll want to remove the skins from them. To do that, cut an X on the bottom end of the tomato. When the water for the pasta is boiling, drop the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool under cold running water. The skins will then be able to be slipped off.

If you don't have enough fresh vegetables, you can also put in canned vegetables - mushrooms, olives, peas, and so on - or frozen vegetables. Just thaw them first under hot water or in the microwave.

So, here's the recipe. All amounts are estimates - I don't usually measure too much while I'm cooking.

1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta (penne or rotini is good)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
3-4 cups diced vegetables
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 cups jarred sauce (tomato or alfredo)
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Boil 4 quarts water for the pasta. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables, laying them out in this order:
firmer vegetables (e.g. broccoli, celery, carrots)
more tender vegetables (e.g. peppers, zucchini)
watery vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, canned vegetables)

In a large pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Saute the onion, then add the vegetables, one at a time, in the order shown. (Garlic is added later so that it won't burn.) After a couple minutes for each vegetable, add the next vegetable. Once all the vegetables are sauteed, add the sauce, turn the heat to high until the sauce is boiling, then move the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve on top of the cooked pasta, and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Serves 4.

Check out Life as MOM for more pantry inspirations, and Zero Food Waste Challenge @ Penniless Parenting for more ways to use food that otherwise might go to waste.

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Penniless Parenting November 19, 2010 at 1:23 AM  

I do something similar with my wilting vegetables. I don't always add tomato paste, in fact I usually do not, as it's been expensive round these parts lately. I just spice it up with garlic, onion, and salt and sometimes something more adventurous...
Thanks for linking up to the zero food waste challenge!

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