Saturday, November 15, 2008

Freeze it in

I grew up with the phrase "freeze it in". These three words represented a simple philosophy of shopping, cooking and kitchen management, that meant....cook way more than you need when you can get something, and put the extra in meal-size packages in the freezer for another day. Growing up, the goods that were frozen were typically a variant on pot roast -- either brisket, or veal breast. Now, in my own kitchen, it can mean anything. The bean/squash mole from the other day? Now frozen in, to be extracted when I'm in the mood.

At the end of this summer, Susan and I found ourselves with a bumper crop of basil, meaning it was time for pesto making. There are many ways to make pesto, pick your favorite, but we had way more than we could use in a few days, so we froze it in. In ice cube trays, with one cube about enough for a dinner. (Do not mix Parmesan cheese in with the pesto can add that when you serve). Pictured up there, next to that frozen, cooked shrimp (Trader Joes takes the frozen in thing to the next level).

The problem with the freezer is remembering whats in there, but when you do, you're in for some fun surprises. So, I had two remembrances of late summer in the last few days when I extracted the pesto. The first was a little unusual, but surprisingly good. The second, a bit more traditional.

Potatoes, Kale, Chicken - and Pesto

In the spirit of "what I have lying around", this was a solution to using up the Kale that had been leftover after a few other meals. The red potatoes had been patiently waiting in the cupboard for an appropriate opportunity, the frozen chicken pieces had been in the freezer for months, needing to be used up...and the big bag of pesto cubes was begging for a chance at something besides pasta.

This was a straightforward preparation, sauteed onions, thinly sliced potatoes over medium high heat. I had hoped that the potatoes would cook quickly when cut so thin, but the took their time, so I turned the heat to low, covered the cast iron skillet, and let them steam a bit in the moisture from the cooking vegetables. About 10 minutes later, I was able to add the cubed chicken meat, then the kale, cooking until the kale shrunk a bit. When the chicken was cooked through and the potatoes tender, I removed it all from heat and added the defrosted pesto. With some shredded Parmesan on top, it had a savory, flavor and succulent texture that was a pleasant surprise.

Pesto, Pasta, Shrimp
The next dish was more straightforward. Whole wheat pasta served with defrosted pesto and defrosted cooked shrimp from Trader Joes. And some shredded Parmesan with a dose of freshly ground black pepper completed the preparation. Hard to beat for a quick meal, but all made possible from the little bit of effort at the end of the summer.

1 comment:

  1. I know this post is from awhile back, but I just wanted to pass on a huge thanks; I found your blog through the Enterprise CSA newsletter, and made an attempt at the potato, kale, chicken and pesto dish - and it was a fantastic combination. Thank you SO much for providing the inspiration! :)