Inspiration from a Nearly-Empty Fridge

Pasta & Veg #2

Some of my favorite meals come from when I have a almost nothing in my fridge or when something needs to be used before it spoils. I have to think more creatively, figuring out how to make a dish out of what is available. This is one of those weeks where I’m trying to use up what’s in the fridge before I get my new CSA box. Last night, I knew I wanted to make pasta and I was planning on using a small head of green cauliflower.  When I got into my kitchen, I saw the little butternut squash that has been on my counter for a couple of weeks and I knew I needed to do something with it, too.

I peeled and sliced the squash into 1-inch cubes. I ended up with about 1 1/2 cups. I tossed them with olive oil, salt & pepper and put in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Then for the last 5 minutes, I turned it up to 450 degrees Farhrenheit to get a little caramelization.

I put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta then went to get the cauliflower. As I was digging in the fridge I spied some baby artichokes I had bought at the farmers market 2 weeks ago and hadn’t used yet. I trimmed them up, sliced them in half (about 1 cup), put them in some acidulated water (water with half a lemon squeezed into it) and put them on to boil. If you don’t have fresh artichokes, you can use 1 cup frozen or canned artichoke hearts that have been thawed and rinsed.

I chopped up a remaining quarter of a red onion I had in the fridge (about 1/4 cup) and sautéed that in a tablespoon of garlic oil. If you don’t have garlic oil, just add a chopped up clove of garlic to your onions after they have softened up a bit. Then I chopped up the head of green cauliflower into bite-sized pieces (about 1 1/2 cups) and added it to the onions. I threw in a couple of pinches of salt and several turns of the pepper grinder.  After stirring for a bit, I put the lid on the pan to steam the cauliflower (about 10 minutes).  Once the pasta water began to boil I added a good handful of salt and then tossed in 2 large handfuls of pasta and let it cook for about 8-10 minutes.

When the baby artichokes were a few minutes shy of being completely done (after about 5 minutes of a rolling boil), I removed them from their boiling water and added them to the cauliflower and onions and finished cooking them in the sauté pan.

I shredded 1/3 cup of Toma Celena, an Italian-style cow’s milk cheese from Cooperstown Cheese Company in New York. You can use any hard cheese you like here; a parmesan or pecorino would also taste great.

I put all but about a teaspoon of the cheese in a serving bowl and when my pasta was done, I put it on top of the cheese and then tossed it around so the cheese melted onto the pasta. Then I tossed in the cauliflower, artichokes and onions.

Finally, I pulled out the butternut squash and added that in, putting the remaining bit of cheese over the top.

2013-2-4 Pasta w grn cauli, butternut & baby artie

This is such a lovely dish with textural contrast of the crunchy cauliflower, the chewy artichokes and the soft squash. The nuttiness of the cheese really complemented the sweet, salty & bitter tastes of the vegetables.

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2 Responses to Inspiration from a Nearly-Empty Fridge

  1. Joanne Fox says:

    Looks good! And, nice bowl… = )

  2. Sara J. says:

    Love this and how you found ways to use all of your ingredients!

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