8.10.2013

What Was I Thinking?

If you were to go to your cupboard right now, how many culinary items have you bought that you look at now and ask, "What was I thinking?" They looked really interesting, unique and fun when you bought them, but there they sit… unloved.


I have my share of them. None of them is unusable, or that unusual, but I have to admit they have not become usual, and remain unused.

I made a vow to begin using them, one by one, until there is room in the cupboard for me to add... more unusual items! What are they? They include:

Dried Persian limes. I know I can find a use for them! (Ahu? Colette? Can you help me out?)

Pergamonto. It's Greek. We bought it at a Greek festival. We have no idea of whether to eat it on toast, use it to ease sunburn, or clean the floor with it. (Magda? Any thoughts?)

Ararat. This came from a Middle Eastern grocery and was definitely homemade. We know it isn't a mountain. We think it is a preserve. I have Googled it: It might be cherries. It might be walnuts.

Mugolio. It is an Italian pine syrup. I know it isn't for waxing my floors, because I bought it from ChefShop.com. They don't carry cleaning products... at least, not to my knowledge. Do I drizzle it on cheese? Put it in a cocktail? Is it for desserts? All of the above?

Mortgage Lifters. These beans seem to be a Southwest variety and I am afraid of them. They are really big, and I am not sure our house is large enough to cook them. And now they are really old - maybe 6 years now. Should I just use them as pie weights?

Farfalline. These are pasta's answer to micro greens. These are micro pasta. They were so cute, I couldn't resist. Tiny little butterflies with pinked edges... I bought them about 5 years ago. Do I make a micro sauce? If so, what would that be? They are just too tiny to use.

For all these, I ask, "What was I thinking?"

The first to depart the safety of my overstocked cupboard is the farfalline. Every pasta shape has its purpose, its own special sauce. Wikipedia tells me this one is for soups, generally, but I figured that there must be more I can do with it! And, when I was thinking this, I was hungry.

I had just thawed a chicken breast to grill for dinner. Okay, farfalline and a chicken breast. Then what? It was hotter than Haydes here - 112°F (That's 44.444° to you Celsians!) HOT! And then it hit me - a pasta and chicken salad. Cool for a hot summer's day, and something I could make ahead, then go for a swim, and return to a chilled supper. Perfect.

So, I looked at what I had on hand and threw it all together (more or less) and came up with this: chicken-chipotle pasta salad. No complaints here!

Stay cool, clean out your cupboards, and eat well!

~ David

Chicken-Chipotle Pasta Salad

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half

1 cup farfalline pasta, or other small pasta shape
kosher salt
1 cup frozen peas
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoons puréed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, to taste
freshly ground pepper
romaine or butter lettuce, for serving


Place the chicken breast in a small pot and cover with 4 cups water. Add a teaspoon or so of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit in its broth for 10 minutes. Remove from the broth and place on a cutting board. (Do not toss the broth!) When cool, dice the chicken and set aside.

Bring the broth back to a boil and add the farfalline. Cook for three minutes and then add the peas and carrots to the pasta. Return to a boil and cook for 3 more minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Once cool, toss onto a mixing bowl.


To the pasta and vegetables, add the chicken, oregano, mayonnaise and chipotle chile. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and refrigerate until cold.


Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce.


Serves 4 for a light supper. 


 

41 comments:

  1. Looks delicious and so easy! Love, love your cupboards...and I thought I was the only one with such a collection of spices, sauces, preserves etc.

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    1. Jill - I had to ask myself when doing this post if I had become a hoarder.... A cuphoarder! So I am going through the cupboards and using one new ingredient every week! Kind of fun... and it should keep me amused for years!

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  2. Six year old dried beans? Yup, time to either throw the packet out or use as pie weights. I still have a small tin of Indian powdered colour you use in tandoori recipes. A tin I bought 20 years ago! I used it once maybe 18 years ago, but it'll never go off. Plus I like the look on the square metal tin it comes in!

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    1. Pie weights it is, John! Some things last, some don't. I once thought asafetida would never lose its potency but it did! But it took near 25 years... I love my saffron tins... and the saffron that comes in them!

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  3. David, quite an array of fabulous not your everday kind of products - kind of reminds me of the way my cupboard looks like ...your farfalline pasta salad looks not only delicious but also cute (sorry, but the shape of these noodles is cute) and making this salad seems like a great way to make some more room for those intriguing ingredients that we both seem to bring home from all our trips to markets and festivals and fairs.
    Really nice post, David and I also wanted to thank you for the nice birhday wishes!!! Ganz lieben Dank dafür, herzlichste Grüße aus Bonn und noch einen schönen Sonntag!

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    1. Andrea - I had a feeling that there would be others out there with similar cabinets! Oh, that pasta is cute! That is exactly why I bought it! Glad you are having such a lovely Geburtstag!

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    2. David, if you are interested in one of these wooden cookie molds (you know which ones I mean), I will make sure to send you one by mail (consider it a little "Hochzeitsgeschenk" ) - just send me your coordinates by email ...maybe that way I can even stock your cupboards with some "non-food" items...but that one you might just use one day...
      Have a great Tuesday, Andrea

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    3. Anrdrea - Du bist immer so nett! I will send you an email... :)

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  4. Have you tried lifting your mortgage with the beans? Occam's razor applied might work! I have a few things in my cupboard that, admittedly, I bought because of the snazzy bottle or tin. And now that my kitchen has open cabinets up top, you can see the snazzy stuff too! The pasta salad looks yummy, and you are not alone...I can't resist cute food either! XO from the PNW!

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    1. Karin - at least nowadays, with summer upon us, my cute food purchases are limited to tiny peaches and apricots, and lovely squashes and onions. But I am sure when in Venezia this fall I will buy plenty to restock the pantry!

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  5. I read a recipe by Azita at Fig & Quince the other day... Khoresh 'eh Karafs (link is http://figandquince.com/2013/07/29/khoresh-rivas-persian-celery-stew-iranian-cuisine-recipe-pictures/). Uses Persian limes (limoo amani), with which I was quite fascinated!! Maybe you could give it a go with your dried limes? I can personally vouch for all of Azita's recipes that I've tried. She's wonderful :) I'm also a sucker for any kind of unusual ingredient. I do manage to use most of them... but my pantry is still overflowing!! Love the look of this pasta salad. Very cute farfalline!

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    1. Laura - thanks for that recipe! It sounds really interesting with, like my Persian pistachio soup, an unusual combinations of flavors, ending with something that gives a tangy note at the end. Can't wait to try it! I will have to read more of her recipes!

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  6. adorable summer salad, chipotle makes it addictively scrumptious :-)

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    1. Thanks, Kumar! Glad you could stop by Cocoa & Lavender. I enjoyed looking at your blog, as Indian food is one of my most favorite types of food!

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    2. It will be a pleasure to share Indian recipes with you...glad we stopped by your wonderful blog,thanks :-)

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    3. Thanks, Kumar - I am already thinking of making the puri stuffed with potatoes and herbs!

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  7. If the bergamot is a whole preserved fruit, I'd eat it for dessert with cream. If it's jam, I'd eat it with scones, shortbread or pound cake. Barb

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    1. Thanks, Barb - I think it is whole fruit! Will try it on ice cream!

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  8. I would love to go shopping with you David, Such interesting ingredients. I have the worlds smallest pantry so I have to practice restraint with my ingredients. That being said my pantry is still overflowing so I'm not sure I am that successful at it :)

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    1. Karen - I think I would love to shop with almost all of my blog friends! And, after that, I would love to get a tutorial from you on cake icings! :)

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  9. We had a 44ºC christmas last year! We use farfalline type of pasta on a regular basis for soup here, especially for kids with tons of parmesan, cream and sometimes an egg yolk. We have one that´s called ammunition, minuscule balls. Half of the ingredients you have I never heard of, but I love the idea of buying them! But 6 years old? Throw it away!

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    1. Paula - I love any dish that uses the word 'ammunition!' 44° is very hot - and you must be awfully humid there, too! At least here it is dry! Okay, the beans will now be pie weights... I have been shamed into it... :)

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  10. I do the same thing. When I travel, jars and bags of goodies are my souvenirs. One time, I decided to host a brunch and set-up a bloody mary bar using all my odd pickled foods as toppings. It was a perfect way to clear out the pantry.

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    1. What a great idea, Cory! Yes, travel is a dangerous thing when there are so many exotics to bring back. Oddly, from our last trip to Italy we only brought back two things - crema di balsamica and Italian toothpaste!

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  11. Oh my god bergamot is the best!! Use it on toast, that's what most Greeks use it on but I bet it can work on top of a pie much like you'd use jam.
    I can't believe how many jars and cans of different things you have. You need to get cooking mister :)
    Your pasta salad looks delicious!
    xoxo

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    1. I definitely need to get cooking! I did bring out the Mugolio Syrup last night and it was amazing on some goat cheese with herbs... This weekend - homemade bread to toast and slather with bergamot! :)

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  12. Oh, forgot to say. We usually eat this just as it is (I'm sure it is the bergamot peel that's been made into marmalade) with a glass of water to wash down the sweetness. It's a pretty classic and old-fashioned way to enjoy spoon sweets like the one you have.

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    1. Hmmm... both of us are prone to having a spoon of jam now and then as a treat... Maybe we were Greek in a past life!

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  13. D, those dried limes have many, many good uses.
    They're mostly used to add tartness to Persian stews called khoreshts that are served over rice.

    The ever-popular "Ghormeh Sabzi" is made with beef, kidney bean, dried limes and a boatload of fresh herbs. You should be able to get the herb mix dried or frozen from your Mid East grocer. I'll have to get you Mom's recipe!

    Another use is a simple home remedy for a tummy ache - crushed dried limes steeped like tea and sweetened with rock sugar (also avail @ MidEastern grocers).
    Ancient Alka-Seltzer!

    oxo, Colette

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    1. PS-I forgot to tell you that our pantry looks a hell of a lot like yours!
      Same stuff, huge quantities.
      Maybe we're like those....what are those people called? Doomsday Preppers?
      Pshaaahaaa

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    2. Hi Colette! I guess I am not surprised that we have "twin" cupboards! :) Doomsday Prepper sounds more exotic that Hoarder, doesn't it?

      I would love your recipe for Ghormeh Sabzi. And the "Ancient Alka-Seltzer" sounds intriguing... maybe we will try it!

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  14. David - you crack me up! Of course, we all have these types of things in our cupboards! I bought a bottle of rose water at a French market in LA because it was so pretty and in such an unusual bottle - luckily, I've cured myself of using this method to buy wine after a couple of bottles went down the drain. Then, even the pretty bottles weren't so impressive!

    I have Pomegranate Molasses because I saw it on a Turkish blog & I just knew I needed to have it. I think this was clearly a case of the "thrill of the hunt." I found it - it's in my cupboard!

    I love this post, all the more so because you made something wonderful in the end!

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    1. Glad you got a good laugh out of this - I can only imagine that all we foodies are overflowing with cool ingredients!

      I love pomegranate molasses - such a great and underused condiment!

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  15. This is my first time visiting you. I found you via Andrea@ the Kitchen Lioness. I am so glad I stopped by…this post is hilarious! I can’t tell you how many unusual things I have in my pantry. I always have good intentions with I buy them. You have inspired me to clean out my pantry!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Kathy! I am happy you did, and hope you will come back again soon! Also, I am glad you enjoyed this post - it was definitely a fun one to write! And, the great responses with recipe ideas has been terrific! You know, the post could have been titled "Good Intentions!" Have fun with your pantry clean-out...

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  16. LOVED this post, David. I can totally relate - my pantry is the same! I love when I finally use on of my random foodie ingredients that I bought long ago an a whim. This pasta IS cute! And with everything you added, I'm sure incredibly flavorful delicious!

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    1. Valentina - I think there is a national tour in this post - a tour of everyone's pantry! Wouldn't it be great to do a kitchen tour that is based on the ingredients rather than your counter tops?

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  17. You certainly got us thinking about our own cupboards! Terrific post!

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    1. Thanks, Susan! It was a lot of fun to write!

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  18. wow i am late to the game but i LOVE this post! as i'm moving in a week and trying to use up my pantry items i've also discovered a lot of 'what the heck was i thinking?!' products. limoo amani - i love this stuff. used in almost every persian stew - my personal favorite (and the favorite of almost any other persian) is ghormeh sabzi. it's very tart, and the more limes you add the more tart they get. just make sure to stab them with a fork before dropping them in a stew otherwise they explode. i have a friend who uses them in mexican stews as well as he says the flavor profiles match up well.

    i've seen ararat used often as a syrup over baklava and kadayif, also known as knafeh. i find kadayif to a much more interesting version of baklavah.

    hope this helps! now if only i can use up my 2 jars of ground cloves before i move next week! :)

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    1. I think you are right, Ahu - three other Persian friends recommended ghormeh sabzi, as well. I must try it - thanks for the advice on stabbing it with a fork - I assumed it was for the juices! Boy woudl I be sorry to miss that step...

      Thanks also for the ararat info... will have to look up knafeh.

      Good luck cleaning out and moving. 2 jars of ground cloves? What were you thinking? :)

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