Today, in the spirit of explaining the process behind one of my more crafty moments in “Everything in the fridge over pasta (or EITFOP)” that I find becomes my modus operandi many evenings when I’m just too tired to think of what to create to put in our tummies.
The meal explained here has all the components of my usual nights of EITFOP:
- Nothing really to speak of ready or thawed for cooking.
- No real time or desire to sit for over an hour waiting for stuff to bake or otherwise slowly prepare itself.
- A need to use up a few random veggies that are about to go bad if not used.
These are the hallmarks of EITFOP nights. And usually they end up resulting in something at the very least edible and at the best a dish I’d love to do again. So, without further ado, here is the process behind Creamy Bacon Mushroom Cabbage & Tomatoes over Pasta!
The first thing I hunt out on EITFOP nights is: protein. Usually I can find some leftover chicken or pork chops in the fridge or even hot dogs. This night I had nothing. Until I remembered that one package of bacon frozen and lonely at the back of the freezer. Bullseye! But how to fry up frozen bacon?
Easy! Simply peel off the packaging, lay on a cutting board and use a good knife to slice it into stripes. The small pieces will break down and actually cook up nicely.
Now I had to look around for what else to toss in there. Usually a can of mushrooms is good but the pantry was devoid of such things. BUT I remembered having one more block of mushrooms in the freezer, I think it had been laying destitute right next to the bacon! These are mushrooms that I sautéed up right when I bought them fresh and then froze them. I usually don’t have the ambition to do that but found fresh ones on sale and felt like cooking and this night that effort paid off!
So BAM! Another frozen block goes in:
Since it was also destined to be an Italian-esque dish (at least by this point it was in my head aiming to be a Carbonara style thing); I added some fresh garlic I had. Don’t fret the fresh though, using pre-chopped from the bottle in the fridge always works fine for me too.
If you have onions, one of those diced up small would be added well here too.
So, then you get everything un-frozen and with a nice savory smell in that pan:
That’s the point when you need to have something else to toss in there. I like to bulk things up a lot so the sauce over pasta dish has lots of texture and stuff to bite into. I was done with eggplants from the CSA but I DID have one more huge cabbage left!
I wasn’t sure how it would fry up; even when cut small, so first I put a few handfuls (I had a bunch already pre-chopped and sitting in a tupperware after the last dish I made with it) into boiling water that was about to be used for the pasta.
Once I scooped the cabbage out I put the pasta shells in to boil.
I also had a handful of past-ripe tomatoes on hand so I cut out the really icky bits and diced up the rest to add in there.
Then I tossed the drained freshly-blanched cabbage into the mushroom/bacon mix.
Now, because the tomatoes were really solid and not many in number, and I was out of jarred pasta sauce, I reached for some chicken broth to give it a bit of juice.
Of course, once that was in there and bubbling away for a bit I felt it was a bit too soup-like and wasn’t feeling like a minestrone.
I wanted something thicker. Oooh! And creamy! But time was running out. The pasta was almost ready and that usually signals the “Whatever it is; it’s going to be ‘ready’ now because we’re too hungry to wait any longer” moment.
Thus makes the entrance of: sour cream. Just a few days shy of expiring but still all sour-creamy in its goodness.
After the sour cream was stirred in and bubbled for a minute or so it looked good but still needed something.
Then I had a flash of memory that most of my chowders call for a small pat of butter to give the dish a bit of flavor. So I added a chunk of salted butter to the sauce.
I used my usual method of adding a bit of butter and all the normal spices to my pasta since I hadn’t really added any seasonings to the sauce to speak of. Then it was a good scoop of the concoction on top and it was ready to serve.
Our overall impressions were that the sauce was still a bit thin. It sort of languished between being a Vodka sauce, a wannabe Minestrone and a Carbonara, with none of the really stunning elements of any of those.
But, it was edible, warm and filling. And I managed to use up that cabbage and throw together a meal from just what I had left lying around.
I don’t even know that there’s a recipe so-to-speak but I’ll try my best.
- Protein (Bacon in this case, one package, frozen and chopped)
- Veggies (Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Cabbage)
- Garlic, diced
- (Onions, diced might have added some good flavor)
- Sour cream
The process by steps:
- Fry up the bacon until not frozen and a bit crispy
- Get a pot of water boiling for pasta, blanch your cabbage pieces in it
- Add the diced garlic, and onions if you’ve got them
- Add the frozen mushrooms (or canned)
- Add the tomatoes
- Add the blanched cabbage
- Get your pasta boiling
- Add some chicken broth to the fried up stuff
- Add sour cream or other creamy thickener (Some kind of creamy cheese maybe?)
- Add dab of butter and any spices you want
- Enjoy a meal that you can at least say was full of textures and warmth!
So, there’s one of my not-as-“oh let’s totally make this again”-but-still-edible EITFOP dishes. It used up a lot of what needed to be used AND filled our bellies. It also provided at least one set of lunches for us.
I think next time I’ll have to pick one solid direction and do a full-on Minestrone once adding the chicken broth; or opt out of the broth and JUST use the sour cream. That might have solved the mini-flavor-identity-crisis the dish seemed to have.
So, this is your adventure this week my peeps. Even those of us who love the kitchen get tired of being in it every night and just get into the “toss it all in a pan” mode; and even when the results aren’t stellar; they are still tasty enough to merit taking to lunch the next day!
So adventure-on my fellow cooks and cooking-hopefuls!