Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Any suggestions for me?

On my blog that is attached to my name, I once did a post on how I managed to make tasty meals as a single girl. I noted that the mainstays of my cooking were things that I could use in small portions for a meal for one: olives in brine, a block of Parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes in oil, olive oil, and pine nuts. Olives, Parmesan (in block form, not grated), and sundried tomatoes stay good in the fridge for a really long time. Olive oil is fine on the shelf for months. Pine nuts store well in the freezer nearly indefinitely. And you can combine any or all of those things in a large variety of forms (salad mix-ins, pasta sauce, veggie toppings) and always come out with a simple, elegant tasty meal at the end. Plus, those are very strongly flavored ingredients, so a little of them calorie-wise goes a long way flavor-wise.

My best friend commented to me a month ago that she needs to take my advice and purchase those items to keep at her apartment and her fiance's apartment. She often doesn't know where they will end up spending the evening together (they don't live terribly far apart, but traffic is really bad between their apartments), and that means if she plans meals that use a lot of ingredients that start rotting quickly, she ends up wasting a lot of food because of missed meals. They are a couple with a high income, and her fiance is happy to always eat out. That may partly be because, quite honestly, my best friend has a "you can eat whatever I cook or go hungry" approach, which I have, too, except . . . that doesn't go too well with the haphazard combinations she offers him at meals. "Egg-fried rice, bananas, and an Italian salad? Hmm. How about we eat out?" She wants to eat at home because she wants to eat vegetarian, save money on food, and eat more healthfully. He's okay with eating at home if she's planned a meal, but he'd certainly be more gung-ho if her meals were . . . planned to be more appealing.

My best friend told me she should take my advice . . . but then she didn't. She started a new job and is planning a wedding, and her life is hectic. Her birthday is on Friday, and I've been trying to think what to get her that is fairly cheap but also a nice gift. Then I realized I could go buy her those ingredients and make her a small cookbook, in a binder with plastic sheet covers, featuring several easy recipes that are ways to combine those ingredients. For example, our meal last night could have featured sun-dried tomatoes with asparagus, potatoes, and eggs, and then I could include that recipe.

Do you use those ingredients in your meals? If so, if you have an easy, meatless recipe that uses any or all of those ingredients (as well as other ingredients, when applicable), send it to me at veggiepaparazzo@gmail.com or do a blog post with it, link to me, and leave me a comment with your post link by Friday at noon. I know this is short notice, but I just came up with the idea last night! It's going to be a tight squeeze to fit in the time to work on this, but I can get it done before our 8:30 birthday dinner on Friday night if I set my mind to it (which I have).

6 comments:

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

My first thought was a pasta dish: I use canned artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and a little olive oil for the sauce (heated), then serve over hot pasta. Could also be turned into a cold pasta salad, too, I guess. Works also for a mediterranean style pizza (on homemade pizza dough or even pitas). Pine nuts, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and some basil work for a sundried tomato pesto. And, of course, they could also go into a hoagie (submarine) roll for a italian style sandwich.

the veggie paparazzo said...

Ooh, thanks, Midnight! Great suggestions.

metamorphose said...

Unfortunately I don't have any recipes -but I wanted to say it sounds like such a wonderful, thoughtful present!

the veggie paparazzo said...

Thanks, meta. :)

Jen said...

What a wonderful, thoughtful idea for a birthday gift! I do use all of the items you mentioned, too. My favorite things to use these ingredients for includepasta dishes, as well as "pita" pizzas. Seems like Midight beat me to sharing those ideas though! :-)

Anonymous said...

That really is a great idea for a gift! In my house we like to round out pasta and veggies routine with a mediterranean-style white bean salad sometimes. (You can get the recipe at www.meatlessmonday.com/medsalad ).