Well, we made it to Friday evening without a mustard sandwich in sight. I truly can’t believe how many options we had right in our house. For those of you who played along at home, what discoveries led you to a recipe success?
I really liked this project because it helped me realize just how feasible it is to stretch things I have. Skipping the long lines at the grocery store was a major perk too! They key is to remember if you bought the ingredients in the first place, they are most likely items you enjoy or have the intention of using. That’s half the battle right there.
I honestly think we could go another week like this—frittatas, soups, dinner wraps, pancakes for dinner—it’s all there begging to be put together. This challenge served not only as a reminder to check my inventory before rushing out to the market, but to keep track of staple items for dinner in a pinch. Canned beans and tomatoes, pasta and rice, frozen veggies and proteins, cheese and Greek yogurt and basic herbs and spices are all very helpful.
Need inspiration? Make this a fun family activity! Fill your kitchen table with a mixture of fresh, frozen and canned ingredients and have everyone come up with ideas to incorporate them in various dishes. Are your children old enough to cook? Ask each person in the house to create their own combinations and assign everyone a weeknight to make their meal. Give feedback on what you like most about the taste and creativity to encourage thinking outside the box.
For our final night’s recipe, I created a pan seared gnocchi with a green olive sauce. Both my mom and grandmother are known for their olive pasta so I made my own twist by pureeing green olives with sundried tomatoes and garlic before adding it to a hot pan. Red pepper flakes elevate the flavors with a good kick of heat as the liquid cooks down to a ragu-like coating. The already cooked potato pillows are treated to an enticing caramelized sear. The texture of softness and crunch works really well in this savory dish.
And there you have a full weeknight’s worth of found meals. We’re now left with full stomachs, an emptier pantry and a lesson learned.
2 lbs Potato gnocchi
1 (18 oz.) can sliced green olives
½ cup marinated sundried tomatoes
3 tablespoons white cooking wine
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Boil and drain gnocchi according to instructions. Usually takes about 2 minutes for them to float to the top.
Puree olives with liquid, sundried tomatoes and garlic in your food processor.
Add to a hot pan and stir in red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.
Add gnocchi and stir to coat.
After a few minutes of cooking, stir in onion powder, sugar and cooking wine.
Turn heat up to high and allow sauce to cook down and gnocchi to caramelize. Continue to turn pasta with your spatula, and sear gnocchi until slightly brown and crispy–about 15 minutes. If desired, top with parmesan cheese or its nutty substitute, rawmesan. (So good on this!)
Eat and enjoy the next generation of olive pasta!