Based on how my life has been lately, I need to have a quick meal idea handy. Although in ideal circumstances, I like to make things from scratch and always have the least processed foods to serve my family, lately I have kept some "convenience" foods like whole grain pasta, canned beans, and even (gasp!) minced garlic in a jar. =)
Today I made a pasta salad. This is what I had on hand: Whole wheat penne pasta, leftover cooked (long and slender) green beans, garlic, canned garbanzo beans (chick peas), carrot sticks, fresh broccoli, celery, 8-10 dried shitake mushrooms, and a small bottle of salad dressing (if I would've had onions, I would have added them too).
What I did:
Prepared the pasta in boiling water, drained and rinsed,
Cut the green beans up into shorter lengths,
Opened the jar on the garlic (see?=),
Drained and rinsed the canned beans,
Chopped the carrots,
Washed, trimmed, and blanched the broccoli in the boiling water before cooking the pasta, then drained and rinsed the broccoli,
Chopped up one stalk of celery finely,
Soaked, then sliced, the mushrooms.
Then I mixed everything together with the dressing. Chilled it until supper time. Then mixed once more before serving to mix the dressing again. If I hadn't had the bottled dressing, I would do the usual oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) and my homemade seasoned salt. I put the nutritional yeast on the table to top it off.
So for quick and convenient, this meal idea has saved the menu some days and helped use up those last bits of leftovers in the fridge. Even if the leftovers don't seem like much, a few beans here and some carrot sticks there give some nice color to a pasta salad.
For more kitchen tips, head over to Tammy's Recipes.