Monday, October 26, 2009

Cleaning Out the Fridge.

At the end of a long day, the last thing you want to do is search your pantry and fridge without any idea of what you are going to cook for supper.  Most of the time we are too busy with out daily schedules to pre-plan and organize for our weekly meals and we fall prey to fast-food line ups and frozen dinners.  Let me tell you that this does not have to be so, and that simply thinking outside of the french fry box is a sure fire way to having easy and fresh dinners any night of the week.  Take a handful of ingredients from the fridge and pantry and figure out how to combine them into a cohesive meal and you will become the all-star in your kitchen.  All you have to do is look into your fridge with fresh eyes!

Here's what I found in the fridge this evening...
Left-over italian sausage, fresh sage leaves, fruity, buttery, parmesan cheese, garlic and a couple packages of potato Gnocchi.  An Italian feast had congregated in my fridge and I had only to introduce the ingredients to one another for a quick, simple and delicious meal.  Before my eyes, without any careful planning or strategic grocery shopping, I had stumbled upon the perfect array of ingredients for an Italian inspired meal that would come together in less time than it would take to order pizza.    

Dinner woes?  No problem.

Without a formal recipe, simply begin by removing the casings from the sausages, and rough chopping them.  Keeping yourself in the 'rough-chopping,' groove, chop one half of an onion and one clove of garlic.  Heat up a skillet and add a good splash of olive oil.  When the oil is sizzling, throw in the sausage and cook until it is caramelized and golden.  Add the garlic and the onion and cook for an additional three to four minutes until the garlic has become aromatic and the onions have softened.  With a slotted spoon, remove the onion/garlic/sausage mixture to a spare bowl and return the skillet to the heat.  Throw two to three tablespoons of butter in the pan. Once the butter has stopped sizzling, toss in a handful of fresh sage leaves, (and believe me, there is no substitute for fresh in this impromptu recipe...) In the meantime, fill a medium pot with water for the Gnocchi and bring the water to a boil making sure to add salt for seasoning.  Continue to cook the butter on a medium-low heat until the sage leaves are crisp and the butter is beginning to take on a brown color.  At this point, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the skillet which will add a fresh, acidic zing to the sauce while more importantly stopping the browning process in its tracks and preventing the butter from burning.  Pull the skillet off the heat and add the sausage mixture back into the pan.  Add the Gnocchi to the boiling water and put the lid on.  The Gnocchi will be cooked when they start floating to the top and this takes no time at all so stay close to the stove.  An overcooked Gnocchi is a bad Gnocchi.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop the dumplings out of the water and toss them into the skillet with the brown-butter sage sauce and sausage mixture.  Toss the whole works together gently to coat, and right before serving, garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

Voila.  A deliciously speedy meal without careful planning.  All you need to do is peruse your pantries with new inspiration and an open mind, and you never know what you will find, or where your culinary adventures will take you!

Buon Appetito!

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