We always start out the week with the best intentions. On Sunday night, I make a menu for the coming week and I write up a grocery list for Monday so I'm ready to do all the shopping. The process takes me (what feels like) all day. I'm easily distracted and have been known to fall down a pretty deep rabbit hole of recipe research. I'm also pretty picky. I want to make sure I have a menu I'm excited about, one that will be healthy as well as satisfying and will be tolerated by adult and toddler. It can be a little over the top and I should probably simplify my strategy, but somehow, I find joy in the long and sometimes grueling process.
I generally have a meal planned for every night and I use the leftovers for lunches and carry over for other recipes. A whole roasted chicken can turn into many meals, which is helpful because that really cuts down on the prep time for following meals. Lately, I have been leaving one night free for going out or for left overs. This gives me a chance to use up any ingredients I didn't end up using. These are the nights I rely on my pantry to give the left overs new life. A well stocked pantry and a little knowledge can put dinner on the table with little effort which is especially useful when your toddler is losing every ounce of composure and he needs to have a face full of pasta at that very second. It's basically a zoo around here.
Feeding yourself, let alone your family can feel like a really big job. It takes time to plan, to cook, to clean and sometimes doesn't feel worth it, especially if cooking doesn't come easy for you. Some of that stress can be eleviated by learning some simple skills. Like being able to pull out a box of pasta and have a hearty meal for your family without thinking about it. In the next couple of weeks, I'll be launching some new categories, to help you get dinner on the table faster by learning how to use your pantry, knowing what foods go together and helping you with some time saving techniques and tips. Until then, throw together a big pot of pasta and start getting a feel for the kinds of meals you can make on the fly. If you're really wanting to dive into this process further, I'll be teaching a class on September 12th where I'll be teaching you how to become a pantry wizard. It's going to be a great time! We'll learn, eat and hopefully laugh a lot. I'd love to see you there!
This is a pantry recipe, so if you don't have some of the ingredients, try to see if you have a substitute already before running out the store. If you don't have corn, but you've got some peas, use those instead. If you don't have zucchini, use yellow summer squash. Take a look at what's in your fridge and use what you think will work. Experimenting is the first step toward becoming a better cook. If you're stumped, leave a comment and I'll do my best to guide you. Happy cooking!
summery pantry pasta // serves 4
- 3/4 pound dried orecchiette
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cobs of corn, kernels cut off
- 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 small zucchini, diced small
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups kale, stems removed and finely chopped
- freshly grated parmesan
- Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water. Add the kosher salt and bring to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander being sure to save 1/4 cup pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet until the butter is melted. Add the onion, corn and oregano with a pinch of kosher salt. Saute until the corn is almost cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Add the zucchini, kale and garlic and cook until the kale is starting to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss well. Moisten with pasta water if the pasta starts to look a little dry, about a tablespoon at a time. Top with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan and mix to combine. Divide among four bowls topping with extra parmesan, because, DUH, cheese.