It's Time to Empty the Fridge... and I Find Frozen Pasta
At the end of the month I am moving to a new apartment. It is a better apartment in a nicer neighborhood with a dramatically shorter commute... but of course it's also more expensive (net +$400/month). Hey, what's money for anyway?
As I am (a) really busy and (b) have an old back injury, I intend to leave the moving and cleaning to professionals, but there is always some prep I need to do. Among other things, this of course means it's time to clean out the fridge.
Given my general lackadaisical nature about such things there are some scary items that really have to go, e.g., mayonnaise past its sell by date, a jar of homemade infusion pickles from last summer, or a container of frozen chili which has a date on it from this January. However, I also find things I meant to eat but forgot about, lost interest in or whatever that are still edible. To this end, tucked away in the back of the freezer, I stumbled on a bag of frozen rotini.
Whenever I cook pasta I always cook the entire box, use whatever I want from that and freeze the rest, after draining it thoroughly. This is quite straightforward, just drain (or maybe use a salad spinner? hmmm) and put it in a zip top bag or freezer proof container. It keeps nearly indefinitely. When you reheat it doesn't require nearly the amount of water to cook it from dried so you don't need the large pot of water. This works with nearly any sort of pasta but is best applied to things like rotini, farafalle, or conchiglie, not spaghetti or linguine, which are hard to deal with in their frozen state. Tonight I'm having pasta that I froze who knows when, cooked thusly:
1 cup frozen rotini
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
6-8 green olives with pimento
2 tbsp basil pesto
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone
Soften 2 cloves garlic in a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet on medium low. When the garlic has softened add the pasta (about 1 cup or so), perhaps 1-2 tbsp water, lid and let the pasta defrost and rehydrate. Add the pesto, green olives and cheese and wait for the cheese to melt. I let the cheese go until some of it has browned on the bottom of the pan, which makes the pasta at the bottom crispy too, kind of like a baked pasta dish, but stop it whenever you want. Oh the beer? Drink it. ;)
This is ripe for hacking. You can add nearly anything and frozen pasta cuts way, way down on the prep time of many nice dishes, leaving you to make the sauce fresh only. Is it as good as freshly cooked pasta? No. It loses a little---essentially because of freezer burn I suppose---but boy does the time savings make up for it....