Fettuccine Alfredo - Detail - © daringgourmet.com

Classic Fallbacks: Where Many Great Recipies Begin!

Back in culinary school, we had a term that covered a multitude of different specific ingredients: ‘Tomato Product’. That included everything from tiny 6 oz. / 175 ml tins Tomato Paste to hulking big 1oo oz. / 3 L cans of whole Roma Tomatoes. We we were expected to use whatever they gave us… And they called it all, simply, ‘Tomato Product’.

Classic Marinara Sauce - © www.melecotte.comAt the very least, a can of Crushed Tomatoes, some finely-diced
fresh Veggies and a sprig of fresh Basil will help you
turn a plate of plain Pasta into a meal!

In that spirit, I ‘shopped’ the fridge, freezer and pantry last night to see what I could find to throw together into some kind of coherent supper dish. No notion gelled until I came across a couple of single-serving containers of frozen Spicy Tomato Soup.

“Ah, hah!” I said to myself. “Tomato Product!”

If you build it, they’ll say, “Yum!”

Starting there, I added a dozen frozen cocktail mini skewers of marinated Lamb cubes left over from a small get together a couple of weeks ago, half of a 6 oz. / 175 ml tin of Tomato Paste left over from another dish I made on the weekend, about 1/2 cup / 125 ml of leftover White Wine, and let it all come to the boil before reducing the temperature to a simmer to let the Lamb cook and the liquid to reduce by at least 1/3 in volume. After about half an hour. I added a small slurp of Flour Slurry and stirred for a couple of minutes to thicken my melange into a velvety Rosé Sauce.

Finally, knowing it would take 20-30 minutes to cook the Floury taste and texture out of the sauce, I tossed in a leftover half-bag of frozen 4-Cheese Ravioli, and hiked up the heat for a moment to get the whole pot bubbling again. Then, I turned it down to simmer. The extra time over moderate heat would cook the Ravioli and also help tenderize the lamb Cubes.

Thirty minutes later, my ‘single-pot main dish’ was ready. Everybody loved it. I took the kudos i my usual modest stride. It was fun coming up with an official name for the dish, which now is officially called ‘4-Cheese Ravioli with Lamb Rosé Sauce’ and will be made again in future, on purpose rather than by accident.

Another way to go, in a pinch…

Another great ‘trick’ to keep in your back pocket is to pull together everything else you may have on hand with the world’s quickest Sauce: Alfredo. (See picture, top of page.) I call on ‘Uncle Alf’ at least once a month to save my reputation as a culinary genius.

This quick, simple, made-right-in-the-pan Sauce is a great complement to any Pasta, and can be enhanced with almost any Mediterranean Herb or Spice blend. At it’s simplest, it can be used to make a bowl of your favourite Pasta into whole meal. Add cubes of leftover Chicken, Ham, Lamb or other Protein you fancy would be compatible with the Alfredo’s Cheesy, tangy flavour. Use up leftover pre-cooked Veggies such as Cauliflower or Broccoli Florets, Asparagus Tips or whatever you have.

Test your skills

The two preceding examples of recipe-building on-the-fly are good examples of how you can leverage your knowledge of ingredients and kitchen techniques to come up with nutritious, tasty meals even when prospects, on the surface, look darkest!

~ Maggie J.