Sometimes it’s just easier to use up what you have at home, rather than plan, shop for, and cook a whole new recipe. Is this a recipe for which you need instructions? Maybe not. But sometimes you have things in your fridge and pantry already, but without a reference recipe or inspiration photo, you wouldn’t ever think of pairing certain of those ingredients together, right? Or you’re just standing there staring at your shelves and thinking, ‘I have one piece each of six different meals, but I don’t want to go shopping!’ I’m here to tell you, you don’t need to go shopping. Mash up those meals! Oftentimes, the best random concoction comes out of this kitchen roulette. It’s a fun little game I like to call, I sure can make a whole meal out of what we already have. Try it sometime. It’s like your very own at-home Top Chef convenience store ingredient challenge!
Tonight’s ultimate plate could also be called Use-Up-All-the-Produce Skillet. Tomorrow, we shop! But tonight… here you go!
WHAT YOU NEED
Given that this is a whatever-you-have-on-hand skillet meal, there are actually no rules to the ingredient list (are there usually rules? I’m not sure.). Anyway, I’ll just list what I used tonight, and know that any and all ingredients are essentially interchangeable and equal.
* olive oil
* 1 small sweet potato, diced
* 2/3 a red pepper, chopped
* chicken sausage, sliced into rounds (I used the precooked kind, these were Sweet Italian Sausage-flavored)
* 1 10.5oz container grape tomatoes
* 1/2 bag baby spinach
* 1 heaping spoonful of minced garlic
* salt and pepper, to taste
* dried basil, to taste
* a scoop or two of fresh basil pesto
* fresh Parmesan cheese, to grate
* 1/2 box pasta of your choice (I used whole grain rotini)
WHAT TO DO
Boil water for the pasta, and cook according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain, and set aside.
Heat a few glugs of olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of a large skillet or heavy-bottomed pan, over medium heat. Add the diced sweet potato and let it start to cook. Depending on what ingredients you are using, you’ll want to put your densest ones into the pan first, because, obviously, they’ll need longer to cook through. Besides that, just go at your own pace – chop, dice, prep, and add each ingredient as you go. In this case, add the pepper next, then the sausage, then the tomatoes, and the spices, and let those cook a bit together for just a few minutes before moving on.
Next, add the garlic and the pesto, and stir, again, letting it cook together for a minute or two. Reduce the heat to low, and then add the spinach and stir it through a bit so it can begin to wilt, just for a minute. Finally, add the pasta directly to the skillet, and mix everything together.