Monday, June 15, 2009

Cleaning Up

It all started with Oprah. Last week I saw an episode of her show that profiled two extraordinarily wasteful families. They recycled nothing, ran no fewer than four electronic devices at any one time and threw away enough food in a week to feed a small village for a month. Oprah of course set them straight, and had them reading books and drinking out of reusable water bottles in no time.

I was initially horrified by the total disregard for money and resources generally, and was sliding into smug territory until I remembered my own overcrowded refrigerator. After a zealous weekend at the farmer's market and a small dinner party during the week (I served the clam, fennel and pasta dish from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Supper at Lucques, which was outstanding), I had an abundance of fresh, easily perishable food just waiting to be either used or wasted.

So I threw everything together with some pasta, cream and walnuts and had myself a luxurious little dinner. And returned to feeling smug.

Clean Your Fridge Out Pasta
Serves 1

Note: All measurements are approximate, adjust to suit the contents of your pantry

scant 1/4 cup walnut halves
3 ounces penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 fennel bulb, diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
8 spears young asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 2-inch lengths
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons chopped parseley

Put on pot of salted water to boil for pasta. In a dry skillet, toast walnuts over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer walnuts to plate or bowl and set aside.

In same skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat and add onion and fennel. Salt lightly, and cook, being careful not to brown the vegetables. Drop the pasta into the boiling water.

Once onions and fennel are tender, 3-4 minutes, add garlic and cook for a minute. Add asparagus and saute for two minutes. Pour cream into skillet. The cream should cover the bottom of the pan, but the depth should only be about a quarter of an inch. Bring to a simmer, and allow to reduce a bit, approximately two minutes. Taste, and add salt if necessary.

Once pasta is al dente, drain, reserving some cooking water, and add to skillet. Toss through, and if sauce is too thick, add a bit of water to loosen things up. Toss through fresh parsley and serve.


Lucinda said...

This is making me hungry! Good for you and delicious too!

Terry B said...

This sounds so delicious and so simple! We try to use up everything in the fridge, but too often end up throwing stuff out. This is a nice inspiration. Regarding Oprah, did you see the Newsweek article, Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures & You? Pretty scary stuff.

Terry said...

Don't lay Oprah on me. I've been the daddy (3 kids) cook for most of our dinners. I'm hopeless so I shop every day and don't leave leftovers. I'm wasting gas sometimes but not food. Would you mind freezing some of your fridge pasta and sending it down here? Sound really good.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Terry B- I know she's new age-y/baseless-ly evangelical sometimes...and I saw that Suzanne Somers show, and the woman is somewhat off her rocker. But if you can filter through it all there's some interesting stuff she's got going on.

Terry (non-B) - Wow, that is a lot of effort! How very European of you to be going to the market each day...I'm sure your kids eat well!

VictoriaArt said...

Check it out... Thanks for your lovely comment and wow, what do I find in return?
Such a nice blog just around the corner, so to speak.
And familiar faces on your comment list too...
The blog world is a village!
My idea of a blog as well, talk about the things you know, love and like!
Thanks for thinking about wasting things, it's on my mind too!
I am back soon!

wambalus said...

We used to make 'ifit' dinners - if it's in the fridge, it's in the pan.

The Townhouselady said...

This speaks to my heart. I hate waste. Wasting food, wasting money. Not for me.

I do most of my shopping based around seasonal items and sales. We also do a leftover purge twice a eek where we eat everything that's sitting in the fridge.

This post is brilliant. Great recipe too.

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