Menu planning for me is a ritual. It is for sure my favorite job as homemaker. My process is the same every Sunday. After I have rid the fridge of any food that has passed its prime, perused my cabinets to take a quick inventory, I then set myself up at my desk, pinterest on screen, surrounded by my favorite cook books and determine what exactly I will cook for the week. Right now, The Barefoot Contessa, Lady Goop and Lidia (the busty Italian from Channel 11) are in my cook book rotation and where I have been going currently for my food inspiration.
I usually shop to make four meals per week. This weeks menu was whole roasted chicken (easiest ever!) with wild rice and sautéed spinach with garlic and olive oil. Pot roast. Pasta with sausage and rapini (today’s featured post) and my 4th meal is usually simple and nutritionally challenged. Because I am a working mom and for the love of Pete I need a break, GMO’s and SOY LECITHIN FOR EVERYONE!
My Kitchen Staples
pasta, brown rice, quinoa, lentils
olive oil, coconut oil, vinegar, mustards, stocks and broths, meat base
beans (canned and dried)
tomatoes (paste, crushed,sauce,diced)
salt, pepper, various dried herbs (some not for cooking)
On my grocery list weekly:
carrots, onion, celery, garlic
milk, butter, eggs
Fruits and vegetables (3 types of each)
poultry, fish, meat
Making my weeks menu is a bit of a game for me. I have an obsession with utilizing what I have on hand. However, no one is better at food utilization than my dear, sweet mother in law Jan. She is amazing. If I happen to be following a recipe and am missing a specific ingredient (.i.e. I’m making salad dressing and it calls for red wine vinegar. I will substitute with white wine vinegar) Never run to the store. You always have options.
When I designed our kitchen, I did not include a pantry in the plans. I wanted to stay committed to whole food. My thought was if I didn’t have the space I wouldn’t be prone to filling it with garbage. So far so good. (DONT WORRY! It still finds it’s way here.) Cooking is my thing. I get it, but my goal through this blog is to show and inspire others that if you take just a little time each week to gather what you have and take note of what you need, with the right recipe, (less ingredients, not more) you too can prepare great tasting, whole food recipes for your family. People always ask me how I have the time. Truth is, I don’t have time. But I make just a little, because it is important to me. It should be to you. Don’t get me started. I’ll be in a FEMA camp in two shakes of a lamb’s tail if I start talking about the government and our commercial food industry. AHHHHHH! It makes me so angry!
Once I have gone shopping for my meats and anything else I may need along with the staples I have on hand, I can make pretty much make any kind of soup, stew, pasta, meat or what have you. This week, while meal planning, I decided to utilize the bag of orecchiette that was beginning to feel left out. I had a taste for rapini (a sort of bitter broccoli, but different) and when I opened Barefoot Contessa’s book, her sausage and rapini pasta with orecchiette spoke to me… and I had most of the ingredients. That’s pretty much how it happens for me weekly. Here is Lady BC’s recipe. This recipe was too good not to share.
***However, if I did not have any tomatoes or wine or both on hand, I would have ditched those ingredients along with the tomato paste this recipe calls for and just made and olive oil based pasta. Just another option.
*** I could have also turned this into a frittata if I wasn’t in the mood for pasta. Need some inspiration? This one is great!
1 lb italian sausage links
1/3 c. olive oil
6 garlic cloves
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. dry red wine
1/4 c. tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 bunches rapini
1 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, prick your sausages with a fork, place on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Turn them once. You want them to be just barely cooked through. Slice 1/2 inch think and set aside
Heat the olive oil, over medium heat, add the sausage, get them nice and crispy, about five minutes.
Add the garlic, cook for a minute, add the tomatoes and the juices, red wine, paste, 2 tsps. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and simmer over low heat.
In a pot of boiling water add salt and then the pasta. Cook for five minutes exactly. While you cook the pasta trim the broccoli rabe.
Cut just below the leaves and discard the stems. Cut the big leaf parts into smaller pieces.
When the timer goes off at 9 minutes, toss in the broccoli rabe for 2 to 3 minutes max.