Last night was another “clean out everything in the fridge” night. I was away this weekend at a conference and haven’t been to the grocery store in over a week so when I got home on Sunday night I was truly at a loss as to what to make for dinner. I debated calling for Indian take out but my checking account is verging dangerously close to a $0 balance. All my bills happen to come out in the first few weeks of the month and so I always have to be a little more careful in the beginning of the month. So, even though every fiber in my being wanted to call for take out or delivery I decided to open my almost empty fridge and see what I could scrounge up for dinner.
Two things I do keep pretty well stocked are my pantry and my freezer so even if I don’t have many fresh items in the fridge I can often come up with a semi-nutritious meal using items from the freezer and pantry. This meal was no exception. In my fridge I had lemons (which I almost always have), fresh parsley (which I rarely have especially during the winter months), garlic, and six slices of uncooked bacon from a meal earlier in the week. Oh, and I also had some parmesan cheese. That’s another staple I almost always have in my fridge. It lasts forever so you don’t have to worry about it spoiling too quickly. In my pantry I had some whole grain penne and in my freezer I always keep a package of frozen peas. With these few items I was able to make a simple, delicious dinner in no time.
12 oz. whole grain penne (or regular penne)
6 slices of bacon cut into bite sized pieces
1.5 cups of frozen peas
3 cloves of minced garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions.
2. While the pasta is boiling, put the chopped bacon into a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Cook the bacon until it’s crispy. Remove the bacon onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Remove most of the bacon drippings from the pan as well, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan to sautee the peas, garlic and lemon.
3. Add the frozen peas, minced garlic and zest of the lemon to the leftover bacon grease and stir for 1 minute.
4. Add the juice of the lemon and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and transfer it to a bowl. Pour the peas, garlic and lemon juice and zest over the hot pasta. Add the crispy bacon pieces, the parm and the parsely and stir to combine.
Voila! You can add a bit more parsley and parm to the individual serving bowls if you prefer. You could also add some red pepper flakes to the dish in step 3 to give it some kick. Kind of upset I didn’t think to do that myself!