Like many people, we are trying to conserve money. Luckily, the baby’s food is on the house (yours truly) for at least another month. And, since it is easier to eat at home, we’ve saved some money by not going out. Another tactic we’ve implemented is actually using the stuff in the pantry and the fridge.
For dinner tonight, I began with chicken and some spinach that got wilty. From there, I went to the pantry for ideas. I spied a jar of artichoke hearts, whole grain shell pasta, and chickpeas. Next, I looked in the fridge for veggies that might soon get lost and/or go to rot. I had mini bell peppers and onion left over from making curry the other night, and on the counter, I had grape tomatoes that had gone to wrinkles.
Aha! There it is, all within reach…dinner. Usually, I don’t know what time my significant husband will be home. No, wait, my other husband. No, still not correct. That guy who comes home between 5 and 7 to prowl around the stove like a hungry wolf. Yeah, that guy. Anyway, I normally have all of my ingredients ready to toss into a pan when, through the kitchen window, I see him pedaling into the yard.
This evening, I have a big bowl full of prepped veg, legumes, and some fun Aji Amarillo chili powder from Savory, my fav spice shop in Boulder, CO. Pasta is cooked. Chicken is thawed and ready to be dredged in a bit of flour and cooked in garlic-flavored olive oil (not in the mood to peel and mince garlic cloves).
Ingredients (this is between you and your pantry/fridge):
Protein–chicken, sausage, tofu, or beans. I used chicken breast tenders, and I dredged them in whole wheat flour and Penzey’s Smoked Spanish Paprika (This is amazingly tasty. It is NOT the normal paprika you by in the spice section of the grocery store). I also used canned chickpeas.
Fresh Veg–green stuff, red stuff, orange stuff. You could also use canned diced tomatoes. I used grape tomatoes, onions, spinach, beet greens, mini red and orange bell peppers.
Pasta–anything goes. I used a medium whole wheat shell pasta. The shells held onto the sauce really well.
Artichoke hearts–the ones canned in water would be fine. Halve or quarter them if they are whole. I used the marinated ones and that really gave the dish a zing, though you need to drain them so you don’t have an oily mess.
Spices–again, this is up to you. You could make it very spicy. Keep it plain and taste the veggies and nuttiness of the chickpeas. Whatever.
Dredge chicken in flour and pan fry in 2 Tbsp olive oil both sides until almost cooked. Take out and set aside on paper towel.
Cook pasta al dente. Rinse and drain. Set aside. Or, this is a great way to use left over pasta from the fridge.
To the chicken pan, add onions and any hard veggies, like carrots (I did not use these). Cook for a bit. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and peppers. Stir in chili powder or red pepper flakes (I used a heaping tsp of Aji Amarillo powder). Add 1/4 cup of water and keep adding as it cooks down. Cook until the veggies are tender. Slip in the chicken so it can finish cooking all the way and soak up the flavor. Last, add a bit more water and the spinach until it is wilted. Stir in the pasta or ladle over pasta. If you keep adding water (not too much), you will end up with a great “sauce.”