This month’s Recipe Redux Challenge was a fun one:
“Spring Clean the Kitchen – Cook with at least 3 ingredients that are actually in your refrigerator or pantry right now. Try not to go to the store to buy anything new. Give tips on how to make a healthy dish out of whatever you have on-hand.”
Now, that’s pretty much what I do for dinner every night, especially when I’m not meal planning well. But even when I am planning ahead, I take inventory of what I already have to give me inspiration of what the next week’s meals will be (and to save money by not buying things twice). My best tip for making healthy dishes out of things you have on-hand? Keep only healthy things on hand! Then you have no excuse to make something unhealthy. It’s perfectly fine to stock up the healthiest varieties of convenience foods for a rainy day- think low sodium canned beans, dried lentils, whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, potatoes/sweet potatoes, and frozen fruits and vegetables. I also always have a few frozen chicken breasts or pork chops in my freezer if I want a non-vegetarian meal. If you prefer being a little more organized about it, take 1 weekend every month to prep tons of healthy freezer meals. The up-front effort will more than pay off when all it takes to make a healthy dinner is heating something up!
One night recently, I felt like cooking but not like grocery shopping (i.e. spending money). So, I scrounged around my kitchen to figure out what I could put together. I always have flour, eggs, and salt around the house, so I decided to break out my pasta maker attachment to make a fancy dinner without leaving home. Actually, since I had some garlic and broccoli from my Boston Organics box, I got to use my pasta maker and my new mandolin slicer. I also took out some of those trusty frozen chicken breasts to defrost, since my fiance was over for dinner and broccoli on pasta would just not do!
First, I made the pasta dough:
I am new at pasta-making, so I stuck with half white flour and half white whole wheat flour. Once you add whole wheat to pasta, you mess with all sorts of things like gluten integrity and moisture balance that I’m just not ready to tackle yet, hence limiting the whole wheat to half the total.
I made my fiance knead the dough because he has far better leverage than I do. While the dough rested, I prepped the rest of the ingredients and put a large pot of salted water to boil.
First, I sliced a few cloves of garlic on the thinnest setting of my mandolin and lightly sauteed them in a generous amount of olive oil along with some salt. This later became the sauce along with some of the pasta water.
I poured the oil and garlic into a small bowl for later and then sliced the broccoli on a medium thickness, also using the mandolin. I sauteed that until it was slightly softened (only a minute or two).
Not shown: I also diced up the defrosted chicken and sauteed that in a little of the garlicky olive oil until it was browned on all sides and barely cooked through on the inside (about 5 minutes).
Finally, the pasta was ready to roll and cut. Action shots!!
I took all of these cute little packets of pasta and cooked them (in batches) in the boiling salted water for about 80 seconds. After draining, I tossed the pasta with the garlic and olive oil and a large handful of grated parmesan. I topped the pasta with broccoli and chicken, and dinner was ready- simple as that!
- 1 batch homemade pasta (or 1/2 box dry pasta)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 head broccoli, cut in to florets
- 2 chicken breasts, diced
- Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
- Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil
- Slice the garlic as thin as possible, preferably using a mandoline. Saute in the olive oil over medium heat until just barely browned. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- Slice the broccoli into thin strips using the mandoline. Saute in the same pan until softened, 2-3 minutes, and season with salt.
- Remove the broccoli and saute the chicken, seasoned with salt, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente and drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the starchy water. Mix the pasta water with the olive oil/garlic mixture and 1/4 cup of parmesan.
- Toss the pasta in the sauce and top with the chicken and broccoli. Serve with more parmesan.