Thursday, 6 January 2011

Love the One You're With: Use What You've Got

Being a food writer takes a fair amount of planning and juggling. After all, we do want to cook a variety of dishes, with little repetition, and yet we are constrained to the same budget concerns as everyone else. You know the one - the set food budget that gets whittled down every time the phone company, natural gas, cable, electrical and water companies up their own bills?

The fact that we tend to make most things from scratch helps - health-wise and dollar-wise. If you break it down, packaged foods are charging you a huge "convenience" fee. And they don't have your back, if you know what I mean. They take any shortcuts they can to keep their profits high. You'd be better off buying a couple of sweet potatoes than a bag of frozen sweet potato fries. Who knows what they spray on them to keep them from discolouring, while you pay 3x more than what fresh would cost.

But real foods don't have those artificially long shelf lives and need to be used up in a timely fashion. Which can take planning.

So, when cooking up a dish for our cooking club this week, our theme being Resolutions, I wanted to recommit to being vigilant about using up what we have on hand. Nothing breaks my heart more than having to throw out a forgotten ingredient lost in the recesses of the fridge.

So this week I made Giada's Pasta with Greens and Goat Cheese, using what I had on hand - and if you look closely, you'll see that I used up the leftover ingredients from her Savoury Cheesecake that I made last week.

This is a simple and delicious pasta, very versatile and ready for whatever leftovers you happen to have on hand. Just multiply the recipe for more servings.☺

Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis,
For IHCC Resolutions


    * 1 cup dried orecchiette pasta (Farfalle)  
    * 2 cups Mediterranean-style mixed salad greens (Spinach)
    * 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil), chopped
    * 1 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled (Yogurt cheese)  
    * 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
    * Pinch salt
    * Pinch freshly ground black pepper


Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the water.

In medium bowl, mix the salad greens with the sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and Parmesan. Top with warm pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine and wilt the greens. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, or to taste. Garnish with additional Parmesan, if desired, and serve.