Leftovers are just one of those little gifts in the food world aren't they? Whether they are a complete meal with just too much made, or a portion of a meal that can be added to a new creation- they just make things easier. I, personally, love them. Normally I make too much of something with the pure intention of eating it for leftovers- whether lunch or future dinner when time is short. What better way to make a great meal last longer than to have it again?
A couple of nights ago John and I made plans to head out for an Italian dinner. We amped our selves up for a good pasta night, and then got completely sucked into the game on TV. Playoff Football- it's addicting you know? As time went on- it became increasingly apparent that we were not heading out to dine at a restaurant, so we decided instead to order in. We chose a nicer Italian restaurant in town and ordered for delivery. I will not mention the restaurant name here as I did not enjoy my meal but hate to base them on delivery. So the food arrived, my dish was a spicy spaghetti red sauce dish with shrimp. It wasn't too spectacular, so I ate the shrimp and then there was quite a bit of pasta, already sauced, left over. I got to thinking about how it wasn't the pasta's fault that it wasn't very good- so I couldn't just let it go to waste. So last night I set to work on making a better pasta dish playing off of the ingredients already used in the dish-spice and garlic.
Now-I felt that these flavors-though present- were sorely lacking so I wanted to punch them up. As I considered what type of a dish I wanted to make- I decided that I would stick with the red sauce theme-but of course make more of it- as the dish was served with very little. So on my way home last night, I picked up some gorgeous vine ripened tomatoes, two Serrano peppers, a pound or so of lean ground turkey meat, fresh parsley, and, for the first time in years, a container of dried herbs. Let it be known-I detest dried herbs. In my (humble) opinion I feel that they have very little- to no- flavor and do very little to enhance the flavor of a dish. That said- I bought a bottle of dried "Italian blend" -a combination of Oregano, Basil, Garlic, Chives, and Parsley. I wanted to try oven roasting tomatoes, and I hoped that the dried herbs would enhance them subtly.
Back at home I sliced two full tomatoes, careful to remove the stem sections at the top of each tomato, and laid them in a single layer on a baking dish. I drizzled a little bit of olive oil over the top of each slice, sprinkled just a little kosher salt, and then a nice coating with the dried herbs. I placed these into a preheated 400 degree oven and them them do their thing. Then I thinly sliced part of a white onion- maybe just a 1/4 of one, several cloves of garlic, and both Serrano peppers-leaving the seeds in place for extra spice. I added these to a saute pan with already warmed olive oil, salt and pepper, and let them sweat over low heat. Once the onions had gotten nice and translucent, and the smell was sweet, spicy and garlicky, I added the ground turkey meat to the pan.
The wonderful thing about roasting tomatoes in the oven is that you can hear them cook, and you can smell them as they get closer to done. I decided against completely dehydrating them, and so pulled them from the oven once the tops started to look a bit blistered and I could see some charring happening. I removed them from their baking sheet, piled high on my cutting board and easily chopped them into a very loose paste. Once the turkey meat was cooked through, I added one raw chopped tomato, and then piled in the oven roasted. A quick mix, and I tossed in the pasta and a few handfuls of raw baby spinach.
Of course, once plated, I couldn't resist a sprinkling of low fat mozzarella cheese- pasta just isn't the same without a little cheese right?
The combination of flavors were really fantastic. Unfortunately I didn't get as much of a punch of spice or garlic as I was hoping for (I think I added too much "stuff") but the over all flavor was really complete. There was background spice, the lovely hint of garlic, the nice round flavor of the roasted tomatoes. Really yummy. Unfortunately the pasta ended up a bit over cooked because of its "second" cooking and its past al dente state when I got it, but I didn't even really notice it all that much. Overall- this is a great use of leftover pasta that otherwise would have ended up in the trash.
On a side note- obviously I am having huge issues with my camera- anyone feel strongly about their camera and want to recommend the type/brand?