Weeknight cooking on Flickr.
When I share that I have an affinity for cooking, the first thing people will say is often, “What’s your favorite thing to cook?” I usually end up saying Filipino food or roast chicken or something because I don’t want to sound lame. Truthfully, my favorite thing to cook is whatever the heck I can come up with from what I have on hand. I love the exercise of seeing a few ingredients, free associating with my culinary subconscious, and then seeing what I come up with.
Here are some jarred artichokes, olives, green pepper sitting in the fridge. Mmm, pizza? Hey, we always have canned tomatoes. But I have to do work and stay awake tonight so no glutenous pizza…how about brown rice pasta*? Ooooh, that canned pink salmon I bought on sale at the co-op a year ago and totally forgot about! Oh man, salmon cream cheese is so good. Wait, how about tomato cream sauce. I wish I had vodka. Oh well. THIS COULD WORK!
And there you have it, the birth of a weeknight meal and proof that my cooking life is way less glamorous than my cookbook collection would suggest. Thanks to Criminy for his mad salad skills, too.
Pasta with Salmon-Tomato Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 small onion or 1/2 c. shallots
1-16 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 c. green pepper, chopped finely
1/2 c. green olives
2 Tablespoons cream cheese (can also sub with 1/4 c. heavy cream)
salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
approx. 3/4 of a 16-oz box fusili pasta*
Directions: Boil water, cook pasta until just under al dente. Drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking, saute onions/shallots in oil in a large cooking pan on medium heat. Cook for 1 minute. Add green peppers, cook another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes to pan, including juice from can, artichokes, and olives. Simmer for approximately 3-5 minutes at low-medium heat until some of the juice evaporates. Add canned salmon, breaking up into small pieces. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer another 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and mix thoroughly so that cream cheese melts and sauce is a consistent color. Add cooked pasta to the pan, mix thoroughly with sauce. Serve warm.
*I just tried this gluten-free brand of brown rice pasta, Jovial Foods, and it is one of the better brands I’ve had. The texture holds up well, which is key since brown rice pasta tends to get mushy easily.