We've ALL been there before. We stand in front of the refrigerator for far too long exclaiming “We have nothing to Eeeeeeat”. I must admit that used to happen way more until I turned vegan. Turns out that becoming vegan has WAY more benefits than I ever gave it credit for. Not only did it broaden my food horizons, make me feel I was doing something to save the planet; in turn making me more conscious, it turns out going fully plant-based made me a way better chef.
Some of my favourite meals happen when they aren’t planned. As a recipe developer I spend a TON of time planning meals. Planning, testing, retesting and finally getting just the right measurements so that when my community gets around to trying them, it’s as great as they had hoped. But when it comes to making something outta nothing? As long as I have a bag of pasta on hand, I know it’s going to be good. And who doesn’t love pasta? It’s quick, easy and can be incredible cost effective. That’s why for this rendition of turning something outta nothing, I’m firing up the pasta pot and digging in!
There are a couple of ingredients that I must admit I always have on hand and these two really are the basis for any tasty pasta. Onions and garlic. Beyond that I let the contents of my fridge dictate what goes into my pan. I affectionately call these dinners, CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIDGE DAY and honestly the last one was so good it is what prompted the idea for this very blog post!
I like to call this intuitive cooking. No plan, no recipe, just cook and make something outta nothing. Learning to trust your intuition I think is one of the hardest things to do in the kitchen. No-one wants to eat food that doesn’t taste good, right? Getting over that fear and trying different combinations of things will stretch you as a cook and give you the confidence to keep creating and having FUN in the kitchen. We tend to take ourselves too seriously in our day to day lives — the kitchen should be a place of creativity, exploration, good talks and good eats. Now, let’s make some pasta!
In my latest clean out the fridge pasta I had leftover white beans from a previous recipe and a mish-mash of vegetables. Fennel, some tired tomato sauce, a tiny bit of spinach and literally 4 mushrooms. Not much there really until I thought this might make a great pasta! I was right. My mister went back and licked the pan clean. If you are stuck for what to have for dinner tonight, head to your pantry, do you have a bag of pasta? Awesome. Now head to your crisper and see what needs to be used up. Use your intuition, and have fun. I bet you will create a beautiful meal out of what you already have. If you try this method be sure to tag me in your creations!
1) Boil water for pasta and salt the water. I eye ball the salt but its approx 1 tbsp.
2) While pasta is cooking, heat pan with olive oil and chilli flakes. Add in onion and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in mushrooms and garlic. If the pan dries out (mushrooms suck up a lot of liquid) add in a splash of pasta water to get things moving.
3) Toss in fennel and saute for about 1 minute. Add beans and tomato sauce.
4) Finally add in spinach and olives. Season with salt and pepper.
5) Drain pasta and rinse. Add pasta to pan and toss to combine. Check for seasoning and transfer to bowls.
6) Finish the pasta with cheese, sprouts, a drizzle of chilli oil and one last sprinkle of salt and pepper.