Eating from the Pantry

I have begun to re-read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and she suggests we consider, “what do I have available to eat?” instead of “what do I want to eat?” This perspective naturally shifts the focus towards eating what is local and in season.

There are plenty of options for us during the gardening months. For example, here in Kentucky, tomatoes are abundant and delicious in the late summer and early fall. But in winter our choices seem more limited. So, I asked myself Kingsolver’s question in prepping for a meal recently.

My mom is a Family and Consumer Science teacher. This is the new, more official name for Home Ec.:) As we work to stretch our family’s budget, but to still eat well, my mom has reminded me that the best way to save food money is to “eat from your pantry.” Mom’s advice pairs well with Kingsolver’s question of “what do I have available to eat?” as well as facilitating creativity.

Tonight’s supper was a pasta dish that came from ingredients we already had on hand. Tomatoes dehydrated from last summer’s farmer’s market were featured in the simple pasta dish. We store the dehydrated tomatoes in the freezer to maintain their freshness but also to keep us from eating them too quickly. They have an intense tangy-sweet flavor that our whole family loves. The dried tomatoes add a bit of summer flavor without the unnatural and costly addition of hothouse tomatoes. Below is the basic recipe I used.

Pasta with Dried Tomatoes, Garlic and Olive Oil

  • 1 lb. pasta (we used whole wheat spaghetti)
  • 20 dried tomato slices
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-tablespoon capers, optional
  • freshly grated asiago, Romano or Parmesan cheese, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare the pasta according to directions. While pasta cooks rehydrate tomato slices by placing them in a small bowl with some of the boiling pasta water. Drain pasta and tomatoes. Leave pasta in pot and stir in tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, capers, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and serve with cheese.

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