There are two ways to menu plan and cook, I find, and I’m switching to the other one. My former style was to decide what I would most like to make–new recipe, old recipe, whatever–buy the stuff, and make it. My new method? Let’s apply those trendy (but wise) principles of re-use, repurpose, and moderation to the kitchen. Let’s cook, my friends, with what we have. What’s in season, what’s affordable, what’s responsible, and especially, whenever possible, what’s already on hand. Can we have delicious, creative, and healthy fare within that framework? I think we can.
I’ve been thinking about this switch for a while, but I started this morning when I realized Alex was leaving in thirty minutes and I had nothing to pack in his lunch. I did have about three cups of cooked plain macaroni leftovers and a couple of tomatoes . . . plenty of basil in the garden . . .could I steal a handful of button mushrooms and have a few less in tomorrow’s Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons? (It’s only chicken with mushrooms and cream, everything sounds better in French.)
Here’s my On Hand Pasta Salad. It tasted absolutely fresh and delicious, and it made enough for all of us. Best of all, it cost only a bit here and there and one can of black olives I had on reserve.
On Hand Pasta Salad 4-6 servings
3 cups cold cooked macaroni (or other leftover pasta . . .)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 handful white button mushrooms, halved
1 handful shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can black olives, drained
2 TBS. fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp. fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Then shake in a jar (and toss with the above):
1 TBS. olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 clove of garlic, pressed
pinch kosher salt
few grinds of fresh black pepper
When (not if) I make this again I’ll squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into the dressing to brighten things up and grate a few TBS. of parmesan cheese into the salad.
Won’t you join me? I’d love to hear some on-hand creations of your own! Or better yet, the recipes!