Every so often when I was little, my mom would leave home for a few weeks to visit her parents and brother in Germany. My mom is a trained chef, and for almost every single night of my childhood, my mom filled our home with the smell of onions, garlic and a well seasoned sauce. We were beyond lucky to not only be fed a home cooked meal almost every night, but be to be fed an unbelievable home cooked meal almost every night.
So for those two weeks or so a year, my dad would be in charge. And there is nothing my dad loves more than a good opportunity to empty the fridge/freezer. Every time my mom would leave, we would live almost exclusively off of the contents of our freezer, which my mother kept well stocked (chicken breasts, half off! ground beef, buy one get one!). “Time to live off the frost of the land,” he would announce. First, we’d go through the frozen meats and vegetables, sometimes the chicken stock. And then, by the time my mom got back, we’d be into the frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, and ice cream.
I may be an adult now, but I still love a good “frost living” dinner. Tonight was no exception. After coming back from the Cape earlier today, we had no energy to grocery shop or even plan. Tonight’s dinner brought to you exclusively from ingredients we already had on hand.
“Frost Living” Pasta
- pancetta, diced
- olive oil
- mushrooms, sliced
- red onion, sliced
- garlic, minced
- greens (leftover kale and bitter green mix – leftover from the pie earlier this week)
- chicken broth
- white wine
- spices: garlic salt, salt, crushed red pepper, ground black pepper, ground mustard
- cheese (we used cubed fontina)
1. Get a pot of water boiling; cook pasta according to directions. Drain.
2. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Once heated, toss in the onion and heat until translucent. Throw in a handful of diced pancetta. Pour in a few turns of white wine, let it cook down for a bit before tossing in the garlic and a few sprinkles of each of the spices listed (minus the salt, which I like to save for last so as not to oversalt, and so as not to draw too much water out of the mushrooms).
3. Toss in the mushrooms – the more, the better, as mushrooms will cook down a whole lot. Let them cook down a bit before mixing in the greens -again, the more, the better. Add in some chicken broth to add a little bit of salted flavor; add in salt and pepper; let it all cook down and meld together.
4. Toss with pasta, add in some extra cheese, and enjoy.
This is a go-to. It’s always dependent on what we have in the fridge/freezer, and no pasta is ever the same. But it’s almost always comfort in a bowl. Key to this dish is the crushed red pepper – adds just the right amount of heat.