Leftovers never went over very well in this house. Reheated food is a tough sell when you’ve trained the mob to expect a freshly cooked meal when eating at home. Honestly, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back for that. I’m simply pointing out my mistakes after years of cooking for a family. That way I can spare newer family cooks from making the same, naive mistakes that I did in my younger, more enthusiastic years. When I dreamed that unicorns would appear at the table to serve my meals to rejoicing children. Accompanied by rainbows as a centerpiece, and choirs preceding my children’s requests for second helpings.
I’ve heard rumors about people growing up with only leftovers for dinner – how that was achieved, what the original source of the meal was, they never quite knew. It was probably like one of those “mother” starters you find in sourdough bread or apple cider vinegar. One little blob of reserved food is used as the basis for meal after meal. Yum. It’s not always that extreme. I’ve read plenty of magazine articles that give a recipe for Sunday dinner that has leftovers used throughout the upcoming week. I’ve never tried that approach because I’d prefer not to spend all day Sunday cooking. I would much rather clean my house. And if you believe that, a unicorn will be appearing at your dinner table any moment. But, seriously, I choose to cook a little bit every day, instead.
Last weekend was a bit different, and Father’s Day dinner left me with more leftovers than anticipated or planned from the appetizers served. There were leftover vegetables from the crudite that served as a lazy side dish later in the week. There were leftover purchased roasted red peppers that have made their way into several of my lunches. And one night I cooked up the pasta dish you see above, trying to cram in as many leftovers as I could use up.
Surprise! It was like a brand new meal that bore no resemblance to leftovers. It was the right combination of savory ingredients and textures. And it’s one I’d like to repeat another time. When the next day Annie tells me how much she enjoyed the dinner the night before, I know that it’s a keeper. Except, I didn’t write down the exact measurements of everything since I thought it would be a one-time only meal. Therefore, I will share with you my grandma version of this recipe, and the next time I prepare it, I will make notes and re-do this with the correct amounts.
- ½ pound ziti
- ¼ pound bacon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup fresh peas (from recent farm share)
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, sliced thinly
- ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced
- 1 cup marinated bocconcini (marinated, small mozzarella balls) diced
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Boil pasta according to package directions, and add peas during last three minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain and set aside.
- In the meantime, cook bacon, break into small pieces, set aside.
- Heat olive oil in large frying pan and add garlic. Cook until garlic begins to soften, watching that it doesn't burn. Add sun-dried tomatoes to pan and continue to cook over medium low heat until tomatoes begin to soften and melt a little. Add pasta, peas and seasoning to pan and mix well. Add bocconcini and stir for approximately 30 seconds until cheese starts to melt. Add reserved cooking water and continue to simmer. Finally, mix in bacon. Serve with grated parmesan sprinkled on top of each dish.