Scavenging

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We did not get a regular grocery shopping trip in last weekend. Our refrigerator is smallish, and our daughter had a seven girls sleeping over on Saturday night. Only enough room in the fridge for party food. We never got back to the store once the party was over, so this week has been a bit of a scavenger hunt: what do I already have, and what on earth can I do with it?

Fortunately, along with the chips, three kinds of salsa, five kinds of ice cream and three kinds of sundae toppings that my husband came home with, he also bought salmon. So we had Salmon Roasted in Butter on Sunday night, with sides of steamed green beans and some broccoli left over from a couple of days earlier, when I made quesadillas.

Monday night, I made penne with meatballs. Had a box of penne. Had the ground beef, because we’d picked up our month’s meat share on Thursday. And had a can of crushed tomatoes that I’d opened by mistake a couple of days earlier. Plus most of a carton of fresh basil, which I bought too much of, because it seemed like a good deal (the recipe, as I made it, is below)

Since it’s a school vacation week here, we took the kids out for dinner on Tuesday. Last night (Wednesday), I fried some tofu slices seasoned with salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper, and served with brown rice and kale (what I didn’t use in last week’s sweet potato and kale stew). I  sautéed the kale with some chopped garlic and a very imprecise splash of soy sauce. And threw the whole thing together in a bit of a rush, because we were trying to get out to Les Miserables. You can cook the tofu as is in grapeseed oil, heated on high in a wok, or dredge it in some rice flour, or arrowroot powder, to give it a crust. I usually have some arrowroot powder around for this purpose, but I was out of it. Tried cornstarch instead, but it took on a flavor that masked the seasonings. I don’t think I’ll do that again.

Tonight, veggie chili from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. Tomorrow, I’m going to roast a chicken, potatoes and carrots.

 Scavenger Meatballs, Pasta and Tomato Sauce (serves 4)

I know some people have a real recipe for meatballs. Alice Waters has a great one in The Art of Simple Food which I follow sometimes (hers uses fresh bread crumbs soaked in milk, and some grated Parmesan cheese in the mix). But in fact, pasta and meatballs is a sort of perfect meal to make when you’re in a hurry and you need to make something that’s forgiving of ingredients.

 1 box penne, or some other pasta, cooked al dente

Sauce
1 tbl olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, or, to taste, finely chopped
1/2 a green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano or, to taste
some chopped basil leaves (about 1/4 cup. Parsley is good, too)

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the bell pepper and saute until it starts to soften. Stir in the can of tomatoes and oregano, and simmer until the meatballs are done. Add the fresh basil right before serving.

Meatballs

1 lb or so ground beef
1 small onion, grated
1 egg
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (homemade, from stale bread. I keep a container in the freezer)
1 tsp dried oregano
some chopped fresh basil (about 2 tbl)
salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Put the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Shape into meatballs of a size that appeals to you. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, using tongs to turn them halfway through so they brown sort of evenly (we’re getting dinner on the table quickly here).

I know many people cook their meatballs at least partially in sauce, but I’ve got into the habit of serving them separately because different family members have different sauce preferences. I do, however, stir the sauce into the pasta before serving. Top it all with Parmesan cheese.

Complete the meal with a salad and/or a green vegetable. I like green beans. But then again, I’ll eat green beans with nearly anything.

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