Yesterday I realized that I was very much in need of using up the ends of a bunch of ingredients that I had collected from various grocery shopping trips recently. A package of frozen chicken tenders that I was itching to use, the end of a package of thick cut bacon purchased for a project that I should be updating you all on next week (how’s that for a teaser?), half a carton of white mushrooms purchased for the same, and the end of a container of salad greens that were JUST getting that not great state were all part of the plan that I was concocting for dinner last night. When I returned home for work, I also noticed the remaining ½ a can of tomato puree sitting in the fridge as well- pasta night it became.
I started off by crisping four strips of thick cut bacon, cut into bite size pieces in a large sauté pan on the stove top. Once they were nice and crispy (nothing worse to me then under cooked bacon) I removed them from the pan with a fork, placed on paper towels to dry, and then drained all of the leftover grease from the pan. I drained it only, and did not dry the pan so what was left was a very small amount of grease in the bottom.
I added finely chopped onion and garlic to the bacon pan, but kept it off the heat. The residual heat from cooking the bacon allowed the aromatics to soften without burning in a hot pan. Satisfied with their progress, I placed the pan back over medium heat and I added the chicken tenders that I had defrosted throughout the day, and had cut into chunks. A little salt, and a lot of pepper were added to this pan. Then I added a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley that I had leftover from earlier in the week. Once satisfied with the status of the chicken, I added the mushrooms that I had thickly sliced.
After the mushrooms had just started to cook, I added about a 1/3 of a cup of a table wine that I had started drinking during the week. Once the alcohol had cooked out, I added about a tablespoon and a half of tomato paste (I'm eyeballing here). The sauce that formed was a little too thick, so I added the end of the bottle of wine, another 1/4 or so. Satisfied with the sauce, and after tasting its deliciousness, I added the end of the box of greens-a lovely mixture of spinach and arugula.
When I was satisfied with the progress of the wilting greens, I added the drained pasta that I had set to boil on the stove earlier with just a teaspoon of the pasta water. A toss of everything together, a bit of a shower of fresh Parmesan cheese, and finally I added back in the crisp bacon, topped it with a little fresh chopped parsley and dinner was served.
As a meal that I concocted to use up odds and ends in my refrigerator, this was a very tasty meal. The tomato sauce, despite being thrown together in 10 minutes had a really nice deep flavor from the hint of bacon, nicely softened garlic and onion, and reduced wine. The spinach and the arugula held their own, adding lovely flavor and heft to the dish. The chicken was moist and flavorful. Finally the bacon had retained its crisp-ness and really tied a smoky vibe back into the sauce that made it incredible. I have to say- it was a warm and satisfying meal on a windy and cold night utilizing ingredients that I would have hated to have had to throw away for lack of use. It also made a very delicious lunch today!