Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Tried and True

We all have our fallback meals. Those things we make when we just aren't up to being creative but we still want something tasty, that we pull out of our back pockets on the fly, because we know they have to power to impress. My number one go-to can serve as breakfast, lunch or dinner and sometimes winds up being all three. It's something my dad always loved when I was a kid, and I bring it to every potluck brunch. For some reason it has a reputation that is less then spotless, so I try not to call it by name until that first forkful has past their lips. It has unlimited potential, with an endless array of ingredients, and it's perfect for cleaning out the fridge. I can whip it up in as little as 40 minutes, with most of that being cooking time. What is this magical food? It is, quite simply, my quiche.

This time it took a cajun twist, with spicy andouille sausage, and leftover rice. It made a lovely breakfast.

Cajun Quiche

1 storebought pie crust, thawed and unrolled

1 tsp butter
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 cup sherry
8 oz. andouille sausage, casings removed and diced
1 cup leftover spicy rice
2/3 cup leftover veggies (I used my corn and tomato salsa)
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
5 eggs
1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup lightly packed flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
coarse kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a pie plate with nonstick spray. Lay pie dough in pan, press to fit. In a nonstick pan, melt butter and saute onions until softened, then add garlic and saute 1 minute. Deglaze pan with sherry, add rice, veggies and seasonings and cook until warmed through, then remove from heat. Sprinkle 1/3 shredded cheese on pie crust, top with mixture from pan and another 1/3 cup cheese. Beat eggs, sour cream and water together. Pour into pie. Top with parsley, then the remainder of the cheese, parmesan and spinkle with seasonings. Bake for 35-50 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven, or until egg is set and pie crust is fully cooked.

Another tried and true, which I cannot believed I have never posted before now (just wait - I'll discover the previous post right after publishing this one) is classic pasta e fagioli. I always have these ingredients on hand, and it is just as good with some mushrooms instead of meat. This is hearty and satisfying, versatile and quick. I have been known to eat this for breakfast.

Pasta e Fagioli

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
4 slices center cut hickory smoked bacon, chopped
3 links sweet italian turkey sausage, removed from casings
5 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp italian seasoning
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp rosemary garlic seasoning
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
3 bay leaves
1 cup diced parmeggiano reggiano rind (the good stuff has no wax and is safe to eat)
1/2 cup sherry
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 32oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 13 oz can small white beans, rinsed and drained
1 13 oz can small red beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable stock
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
2 cups dried small to medium size pasta - I use pipette rigati, but I find salad size pastas work best

Heat olive oil in a stockpot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots and bacon and cook until onions soften. Add sausage and break up into small crumbles as it cooks. Once bacon and sausage is completely cooked, add garlic, tomato paste and seasonings. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add parmesan rind, sherry and vinegar. Pour in tomatoes, beans, stock and water. Bring to a simmer. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente. Serve in big bowls with plenty of bread for dipping.

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