"Carbs ... they're standing by, patiently waiting for us to remember their generous, soothing nature, and their accommodating capacity to turn a few random scraps into supper. ... I celebrate their ability to carry flavours and extend the possibilities of other ingredients."
As promised - part two of my somewhat massive leftover problem. This time I tackled the chicken - three drumsticks left over from the tray bake which had also included onions, capsicum and olives, flavoured with orange juice and that sun-dried tomato tapenade. I had decided on combining this with pasta, but pondered for quite a while on whether I would detach the chicken from its dinner companions or keep it with them.
In the end I decided to detach, and combine instead with the rest of the leftover asparagus from the cannelloni, its parsley pesto and some of its béchamel sauce. Good decision as it turned out.
I confess that like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall pasta is one of the first things that I think about when faced with leftovers. He is so right about just combining some scraps with pasta - either already cooked pasta or freshly cooked pasta. In his Love Your Leftovers book he suggests just combining these with a tomato sauce, but, in my case I had none. Well perhaps if I had gone the tray-baked vegetables route I would have captured a tomatoey almost sauce.
However, he also says "I often find it helpful to think in terms of cheat's versions of the classics", which I did - turning to the pasta al pesto notion, because I did indeed have a pesto - not the classic basil one, but one that was mostly parsley with a touch of coriander and also hazelnuts. Less aggressive I suppose than the traditional basil pesto, but very appropriate for the chicken and the asparagus had already been cooked with it. I did add a few leek slices to the dish and loosened the béchamel with pasta water. Pasta water is a wonderful thing. When you are draining your pasta always keep some of the water, because you might need it to loosen your sauce and make it creamier, because magically it does.
And really that's all there is to say about dinner last night. But I will just say something about the pasta. This is the village of Fara San Martino in Abruzzo. What you cannot see in this picture is down below - in between those towering mountains and the village, which is itself on a ridge, is a massive pasta factory built on the side of the River Verde, whose amazingly pure water goes into the production of Delverde pasta - now available in your Coles supermarket - and which provided last night's pasta. I confess I have a sentimental attachment to this brand because on our holiday in Abruzzo back in 2016 we visited this beautiful wild spot in one of Abruzzo's many national parks. And not a tourist in sight. Alas we did not visit the factory but we should have. They boast of providing the pope with pasta, although which pope I have no idea. I have also just discovered that there are at least three major pasta makers in the region. Anyway I do actually think that their pasta is much better than many other brands. So for a dollar or so more and when on a special I buy some - as I noticed do many others, because when I saw the special the other day I also noticed that there was hardly any of their pasta left. Try it someday.
So yes, pasta is a go-to for leftovers. It doesn't have to be a sauced pasta though. As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall points out you can also make a great salad with pasta - best all mixed together with the dressing when the pasta is warm. Or you can make a pasta bake, and that is particularly helpful if your pasta is leftover as well, because - again in the words of HF-W:
"Pasta, that workhorse of so many hasty lunches and dinners, which can do double duty, bot as a quick meal on its own and then, as a leftover second-time-around special, taking on board the best the fridge and cupboard have to offer."
I suppose I have forgotten to mention what my chicken pesto pasta tasted like - and yes I did sprinkle with Parmesan as well. I actually hadn't expected much of it to be honest, but it was surprisingly good. For once I had resisted the temptation to add all sorts of extra stuff - like bacon perhaps, even red peppers. I had thought to add some grated zucchini but the zucchini I had in the fridge had gone all mushy and had to be thrown into the compost. Zucchini really doesn't last long. I think it would have added a few more and possibly different nutrients, but it wouldn't have added anything to the taste. Well zucchini is a bit bland. I suppose you could say the dish was bland, but actually I think it was better than that. Surprisingly tasty in fact. Maybe a tiny bit more lemon juice?
I'm fasting today so tomorrow's post will have nothing to do with the leftover problem. But I will continue after that. Now will it be sauerkraut or cassoulet tomorrow? Or something else altogether.