Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's Hiding In My Pantry?

Piles of magazines float around our neighborhood; each of us trading our subscription copies with friends. I like this arrangement. We get to read several magazines and only pay for a couple.

The pile I dug into today included Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart Living (a few from 1999—love it!) and I spent a lazy afternoon digging through all kinds of food ideas, recipes, diet plans. Nothing was really grabbing my interest until I saw a short column by BA’s Restaurant Editor Foodist Andrew Knowlton

A letter to the Editor asked about using canned tuna. The writer was trying to make the most of what she had in the house.

Knowlton  answered with a story about a challenge he met to make a week’s worth of meals using only what was already in his house. “The goal was simple, ” he wrote.“Save money and clean out all those forgotten ingredients.”

It struck me as something perfect to do this time of year, as the seasons are slipping from summer to fall. Cleaning out my pantry, cabinets and fridge to make room for the cooler weather, autumnal foods we’ll soon be craving.

So, what was in my pantry, fridge and freezer? Could I make a week’s worth of meals and stay out of the store?

I decided to start with Knowlton’s recipe (from his friend Chef Chris Cosentino) and go on from there. I made two changes as I didn’t have tuna, did have salmon and preferred soba noodles to spaghetti. It was a very good dinner with a leafy green salad dressed in a simple vinaigrette.

Chef Cosentino’s Spaghetti with Canned Tuna
(serves 2)
• 1 can high quality tuna packed in oil (if your tuna is in water you will need one tablespoon of olive oil)
• 1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
• 1 TBS fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
• 1 1” piece of lemon peel
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• ¼ cup plain bread crumbs (or panko) that have been toasted in a pan with 1 TBS melted butter and tossed with 1 TBS minced Italian parsley
• Cooked pasta, cooking water reserved

• Drain the tuna, if you have it in oil, pour the oil into a skillet set over medium heat (if your tuna is in water drain that off, discard it and use the 1 TBS olive oil)
• When the oil is heated mix in the parsley, lemon peel and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute
• Add the tuna, flaking it gently with a fork. Sauté just to heat.
• Add the cooked pasta and toss gently. Use some of the pasta water to moisten to taste. Add it 1 TBS at a time
• Top with toasted breadcrumbs and serve. No cheese necessary.

BA Foodist Food Editor Andrew Knowlton's Blog