Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'Chicken' Meets Shitakes and Beans... oh, and pasta

I have a refrigerator full of food and I have to cook it before it goes bad!! There is nothing I dislike more (except our unwanted house guests) than produce I have bought and then let sit to the point of imminent liquification and subsequent trash throwing. There is something so unsatisfying about that. I also greatly dislike the anxious feeling I get when I know there is produce to use in the fridge and I'm not home enough to use it...

I was so optimistic last weekend that I had the genius idea of taking the majority of our produce with us on 'vacation'. I was sure I would make good use of them in an amazing salad or barbecue concoction. My hopes were dashed when I realized that I would be spending the majority of the weekend in the car, back and forth across two counties... ah!

So we got home and I lovingly placed all of my vegetables back in their home, all chilly and temperature perfect. 'Ah...' they said, as they were transferred from my gi-normous veggie basket into the cool atmosphere of the refrigerator.

My point? (although you have got to love my witty banter... it's like foreplay for eating.) I had to do a grab bag dinner but I had to do it with things I knew I already had. So I put everything out on the counter, closed my eyes and grabbed some things.

Here is what I'm working with: Shitake mushrooms, garlic scapes, green beans, walla walla sweet onion (because every single meal I make has onions, literally!), 'chicken'... not the 'bawk bawk' kind, no way! The kind that is actually seitan with herbs and spices. I don't think it really tastes like chicken and that's a good thing because I wouldn't eat it if it really tasted like a sweet little 'bawk bawk'. The texture is nice though and it's a great non-meat alternative to the massive quantities of tofu that I cook!

So I made this pasta, throwing in the above ingredients along with some good old stand bys... it was delicious, hearty and simple... all things a meal should be!

1/2 package of your favorite pasta (I used the kind that look like calamari)
Truffle oil (you can use evoo too, if you want)
1/2 walla walla sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed or chopped
8 shitake mushrooms, sliced
10 green beans, de-ended and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 to 3/4 package 'chicken' (find it in the non meat section, with the tempeh, tofu and other seitan styles)
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine (any kind you like to drink)
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
Truffle salt, just a bit for finishing
6-8 fresh basil leaves, julienned

Boil your pasta according to the package.

In a sautee pan, heat up your truffle oil and add the onions, scapes and garlic clove. Let cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

When all nice and soft, add the shitake mushrooms and continue to cook for about 3 minutes then add the bean pieces and 'chicken' stuffs. Mix well and let cook another 3 minutes.

Now add the white wine, Earth Balance and salt and peper to the whole mix, stir well and let cook, semi-covered for about 5 minutes. Check it at five minutes, your goal is to reduce the white wine and have the beans be al-dente but definitely not soft and absolutely not mushy!!

When your beans are basically done, add the pasta to the whole dish, just to cover the noodles and incorporate all the delicious flavors.

On a plate or in a bowl, finish with a little truffle salt and garnish with the freshly julienned basil leaves then go for it! A perfect way to use up some of the produce I had in the refrigerator; this meal is definitely flexible enough for you to use up your veg too... even if it's different veg; get creative!





  1. Love the pasta dish. I could not agree with you more, nothing bothers me like wasting produce. I attempt to use every bit I purchase. Nice job!

  2. Love the grilled veggies and pasta idea! Like your site. :) I found you on foodie blog roll and friended you. Check me out at
    God bless! :)

  3. I will never waste produce either, I MUST find a use for it, or I will just eat it raw! But it looks like you threw together a great dish! And I have to say, I just love the flavor of Walla Walla onions... :)

  4. Lazaro - thank you! there is definitely something satisfying about using what you have :)

    Angel - I will definitely check your site out; thank you for finding mine, I look forward to sharing :)

    Cilantropist - seriously! And there are so many uses for them. And yes! Walla Wallas are the best :)



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