Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

Using what I have

I hope everyone had an uneventful holiday – all body parts intact, all car parts intact, no visits to the local jail, no visits to the local hospital, no glutening, etc.

This was my first GF holiday where I had to go somewhere else to eat (well, that I can think of right now, anyway). Every year we go to this same house and everyone brings a dish to pass, while the hosts take care of the hamburgers, hot dogs and brats. I planned ahead by bringing my toasted Grandma Ferdon’s hamburger bun wrapped in foil and a caprese salad, so I knew I could have something other than a burger.

The guy at the grill just happens to be a good friend of The Man, so he already knows (if not understands) what I have to do to eat. He graciously gave me the first burger off the grill, before he started scooping the rest onto the hamburger buns that waited a table away.

So I had a hamburger and a big scoop of caprese salad (which disappeared quickly, by the way). I spied the fresh fruit trays sitting a short distance away from Mrs. M’s baked beans. I snaked some grapes, raspberries and melon while eyeballing those beans.

I love homemade baked beans. Really, really love them. Mrs, M’s beans run neck-and-neck with the ones my parents make. And GACK to the canned ones, IMHO.

I must have been standing there staring for a while because Mrs. M. walked over to see if I needed anything. I explained my issue and asked if she would be willing to tell me exactly what she put in them. Not only did she list the ingredients, she told me brand names of what she used. Holy crap – I could eat them! Even the bacon she used was gluten free.

Someone up there is looking out for me. Hi, Nana J!

So, I ate really well. Things were going swimmingly until I realized that the back of my head was being fried by the mid-afternoon sun. This was not a good thing, and not because of sunburn (I am white as a ghost on purpose – I know too many people that have had skin cancer removed, so I load up on the sunblock if I am going outside after 10 AM). Sure enough, a half hour after moving into the shade, I was slammed with a migraine. So I hopped in the car and drive the 3 blocks home (no snide comments LOL we had a big cooler and food to bring).

Naturally, I had no Relpax in the house, so I ate 1000 mg of ibuprofen, ate a carton of yogurt to make sure it didn’t rip my insides apart, and crawled into bed with The Gidge. Naturally, she didn’t cooperate. Barked up a storm. So I strapped an ice pack to my head and took her outside to play fetch until she crashed. FOUR HOURS LATER.

This morning, I ran an errand for my mother (sorry mom, no dice on the dress) and got back just in time to say good-bye to The Man, who was heading to the Dells area in Wisconsin with a couple of friends. Their mission? I quote: “We’re going to check on the pontoon boat.” Whatever. We all know that they’re going to be ON the pontoon boat in the lake with a cooler of beer. LOL

It’s just me, The Gidge, and my boys. We napped all afternoon and then I started planning my dinner, since I ate a large omelet for a late breakfast (I was starving when we woke up around 3). I went down to our chest freezer to see what I have meatwise and ended up cleaning the thing out while I thought about what I wanted to eat. I decided to check out the garden and hooked up The Gidge to her lead. Out we went to see what we could see (and pee 4 times, in Gidget’s case). I came in with a head of broccoli that should have been eaten 2 days ago, 10 green beans, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a fistful of parsley. What the heck could I do with that?

I set my bounty in a colander in the sink under running water and started rummaging through my cabinets. I found a 3-oz package of tuna, half a package of Tinkyada penne, half a head of garlic, and some red pepper flakes. And viola – we have dinner!

My ingredient measures are literally what I had in the house, so feel free to adjust as you like.

Garden Bounty Pasta

6 ounces GF penne pasta (or whatever you have)
3 oz package tuna packed in water
10 green beans, cleaned and cut in half
10 cherry tomatoes, cleaned and cut in half
1 small head broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbsp fresh minced parsley
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a stock pot. Add a good pinch of salt. Make an ice water bath in another bowl and set near the stove (6 cups water, lots of ice). Place the broccoli and green beans in the boiling water and let them blanch for 2 minutes, then remove them from the pot and plunge them directly into the ice bath. Once cool, drain the broccoli and beans on a paper towel and set aside.

Bring the same pot of water back to a boil (I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of nutrients end up in the boiling water, so I like to reuse it for my pasta. If you don’t want to do this, start a fresh pot) and prepare the pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Turn off the heat – you want to infuse the oil but not burn the pepper and garlic. When the pasta is cooked and draining (SAVE 4 TBSP OF THE PASTA WATER), fire up the heat under the skillet again and add the broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and tuna. Add the reserved pasta water. Add the drained pasta and toss all together. Remove from the heat and add the parsley and cheese. Toss again and serve with crusty bread and butter.

Well, the bread should be crusty. If the butter is crusty, you might want to throw it out.


I’m now going to try to find the K-Too chocolate sandwich cookies I have stashed around here somewhere. Doesn’t an “Oreo” Blizzard-like item sound dang good right now?

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3 thoughts on “Using what I have

  1. That was quite the detailed review of the day. Sounds like things went well overall. I’m with you on the homemade (vs. canned) baked-beans: no comparison. The pasta salad looks wonderful too!

  2. That bread looks delicious. I assume it’s the Bread By Anna mix? And it’s crusty, too? Good idea about reusing the hot vegetable water for pasta. It saves energy, too. For those enviromentalist wackos, like me.

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