Friday, February 10, 2012

The On-Hand Challenge

If television producers were to come look in my pantry and freezer, I feel fairly certain that I would qualify for "Hoarders".  I'm not sure where the fear of running out of things comes from, but if I get down to two cans of salmon, I feel like I have to stock up.  This could make a lot of sense.

If I actually ate canned salmon more than once every month or so.

It's not that I don't like canned salmon.  I love it, or else why panic that I'll run out, right?  The problem is that canned salmon is not the only thing I'm stocked up on, and so it only winds up in the rotation occasionally.  And when fresh vegetables are in season, the canned salmon is not as appealing.  Sorry, Mr. Fish.  You'll lose to a fresh tomato and basil sauce any day.

But the other day, when I was sliding out one of the pantry doors to check on pasta levels, the sliding drawer collapsed out of its track.  I believe it might have been trying to send me a message.  Since the subtlety of the cans falling over and barely fitting wasn't working, perhaps?

This week, I set myself the challenge of not having to shop for any ingredients except maybe dairy.  (It doesn't freeze or keep as well, so I cut myself some slack there.)  So far, so good.  Monday we were on the road, so we ate out.  Tuesday, we had a fruited quinoa salad stuffed into acorn squash halves; Wednesday we had tacos made with ground beef, frozen spinach, and one of the dwindling supply of butternut squash; Thursday we had the eggplant, etc. panini, and tonight we had the bulgur and chickpea salad you see above.  The only thing I bought was goat cheese to go in the quinoa salad. 

It worked so well (and my pantry drawers are still so full) I'm going to try again for next week.  On deck:  beef brisket, pasta putanesca, pasta with beans and tomatoes, and, yup, salmon cakes.  The brisket is just under three pounds, so it will serve us twice for dinner and twice for lunch, with some probably left over to add to a soup.

The benefit to a stocked pantry and freezer?  Dinner comes together really easily.  As long as you're not reconstructing the pantry shelves every time you pull them out.

Bulgur, Chickpea, and Shrimp Salad
(inspired by something I've read, I'm sure, but mostly by what was on hand)
serves two, with leftover salad (but not shrimp)

1/2 c bulgur wheat
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1/3 c sliced sun-dried tomatoes (if not packed in oil, rehydrate for ten minutes in boiling water--I used dry-packed because I love how they stay so chewy)
 1- 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz. can of artichoke hearts (use as many as you like; I used three), hearts cut into eighths
1 small shallot, very thinly sliced and separated into rings
grated rind of one lemon 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
fresh herbs, chopped--I had a tiny bit of parsley left, so I used that, but mint and/or basil would be great
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/3-1/2 c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of dried oregano
8- 16/20 size shrimp, shells on but deveined  (mine were frozen and defrosted overnight in the fridge, but if you're not having your own personal pantry challenge, feel free to use fresh!)
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.
1.  Bring the 1 1/2 cups water to a boil,  place bulgur in a glass bowl, pour boiling water over.  Cover with a towel and let sit while you get everything else ready, at least 20 minutes.  Do the same with the sun-dried tomatoes if they're not oil-packed.
2.  Toss together the chickpeas, artichoke hearts, shallot, and lemon rind in a large bowl.
3.  In a small bowl or glass jar with a lid, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, oregano, and olive oil.  Mix until emulsified.
4.  Toss the shrimp with the olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Lay flat on a baking sheet, and roast for about 15 minutes, or until done to your liking. Start checking at 10 minutes.  Cool slightly, and peel.
5.  If the bulgur hasn't absorbed all the water, drain well.  Add to the chickpea mixture, along with the lemon dressing and any fresh herbs.  Toss well.  Add the feta, and toss gently.  Taste for salt and pepper.
6.  Serve the salad with four shrimp on each plate.

No comments: