Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It’s My Pantry, I’ll Cook If I Want To – Part One, With Suggestions for Okra-less Gumbo and Polenta Lasagna

We all go through it. Too busy to shop, too tired to really make anything elaborate. That’s when we play “Let’s Go into the Pantry.” (Or cupboard, or closet, or shelf as the case may be). In our house we call it “freezer shopping.” I check out the pantry, the fridge and the freezer and see what I can make that is quick, easy to make and clean up and doesn’t require a trip to the store. This past week or so, I’ve been specializing in meals from my “supplies.” My efforts are helped significantly by having a walk-in pantry, a large refrigerator and a stand-alone freezer, but it is really a game anyone can play.

The first night I felt like some gumbo. I had a package of turkey andouille sausage, but I was out of frozen okra (for some reason something I consider a staple) and file powder. No matter, I made do. After sautéing onions and garlic and browning slices of the sausage I added a can of diced tomatoes with their juices, frozen roasted corn (regular corn kernels would work just fine), frozen shelled edamame (I was out of frozen lima beans), red pepper flakes and salt and pepper, then cooked it until the flavors melded, the sauce had thickened a bit and the sausage was cooked through. The sausage gave the dish a strong Louisiana flavor. I served it over left over rice from a Chinese restaurant meal a few days earlier. It was spicy, sassy and easy.

The next day Polenta Lasagna came to my rescue. I had half a package of sweet turkey Italian sausage that I defrosted in the microwave, grilled on my panini grill, then sliced. I took a log of premade polenta, unwrapped it and sliced it lengthwise into long sections (cross sections into circles would have worked, too, but would have looked less “lasagna-like”). I opened a jar of good quality spaghetti sauce and put a smear of it down in an 8 x 12 inch glass baking dish. Then I put down a layer of polenta slices, followed by a layer of sauce, then a layer of sausage slices and then a scattering of grated parmesan cheese. I topped this with slices of provolone cheese (I didn’t have any mozzarella in the house), put a bit more sauce on top and put the next layer of polenta slices on top of that, ladled on some more tomato sauce and tore up some slices of the provolone to scatter on the top. I put the baking dish in the microwave, covered it with wax paper and cooked it until the lasagna was heated through. (I would have put in a layer of sautéed mushrooms, by the teenage boy won’t eat them so I left it out.) Another hit with the family.

Watch for It’s My Pantry, I’ll Cook If I Want To – Part Two, with directions for my skillet turkey chili and for the ultimate triumph of my “freezer shopping” week – a recipe for fresh tomato and olive pasta sauce.

Anything interesting come out of your pantry recently? Leave a comment with info on or a link to your creation below.


Paula said...

Found your blog via Kalyn's Kitchen. Your polenta lasagna sounds so yummy and just the thing that I can serve to my littlest who can't eat wheat. Thanks for the idea and recipe!

FJKramer said...

Glad to provide the inspiration. Search Blog Appetit for the Corn Tortilla Lasgna as well.