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BRUNCH BEAT: Nicollet Diner
By: | Posted: 04/29/2008
Friday was just exhausting, no? By the time I got home and mentally dealt with the impending weather, I just hadn't the pluck to either pick a restaurant or shop for food. So it was to the sad, sad pantry I went.
It is my life's mission to open the fridge/pantry and be able to pull together something pretty fantastic. A la MacGyver, I would find eggs, chives, some funky cheese and be able to whip together a major soufflé. Granted, that's easy—it's when you can only find tortilla shells, Chinese leftovers, wasabi paste, a pack of string cheese and crusty-around-the-edges prosciutto that you have to be really creative. My husband can do it. He can come home and throw together the most amazing egg scramble with ingredients I didn't even know we had, but the man's been to chef school, so he doesn't count.
I've had my victories (a version of pork Wellington with ancient puff pastry and goat cheese), and I've had my flops (buckwheat crepes with roasted red peppers and salami). But despite my battle with a sparsely stocked pantry, Friday's effort was light, flavorful, and lifting.
The first step was to crack open a bottle of wine because inspiration needs greasing.
Next, I fully decided that it would be a pasta dish of some sort, and of all the open boxes, the fettuccine seemed most full. Boil water, prepare to dump pasta.
I'm lucky that I can open my fridge and pantry doors for viewing at the same time, which is what I did. Beans and rice? Anchovies? Hummus? Applesauce? Crème fraîche? Then I spied the cans of clams that had been sitting there for a few months. Of course.
Two cans of clams (say that three times fast) whole and chopped were thrown into a bowl. Stirred in a couple of spoon-hunks of pesto, a good squeeze of lemon juice, a generous shaking of red pepper flakes, and a little S 'n' P for good measure. Heated up a healthy cup of olive oil in a deep sauté pan and added some chopped onion and garlic until lightly browned. Poured in the clam mixture, stirring. Let it reduce a bit and, with a blaze of insight, dashed in a few cherry tomatoes that were on the verge. Added cooked and drained pasta to gloriously bubbling mess and tossed to coat.
Plated up for one kid + hub and opened the second bottle of wine. Put the week to bed.
Stephanie March is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s food and dining editor. See bio
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