|A "Mediterranean" pasta salad with cucumber, chopped olives, chickpeas, tomatoes, oregano, basil, lemon juice and more.|
It's common knowledge that I despise the galley and all activities associated with it so anything that expedites my time in there is something that I can get down with. While I have gotten much, much better at provisioning, meal-planning and keeping our diet more varied than last time (we sort of lived off rice and beans for a solid year there), I am still a creature of habit and when I find a little groove with something I go with it.
My latest groove is pasta salad. It is the bona fide "little black dress" of the food world and can go from day to night with some minimal "accessorizing". This is a particularly awesome food choice when making a full day passage of six hours or more when you don't really want to be cooking (in case it's rough which it usually can be in these parts) and you are too tired to make dinner by the time you drop anchor (because you have been sailing all day and are exhausted).
So what do I do? I make a two-fer. One meal, two different ways. Let me explain...
I make a pasta salad either the night before or the morning we leave. I make a big batch and it's never the same thing twice. I'll dress it up with any canned veggies I have like artichokes, green beans, sliced olives or diced tomatoes (seriously, you can put anything in it so go nuts). I've also found I love to add a protein like a can of tuna fish or some chick peas. I douse all that in olive oil, italian dressing or whatever spices tickle my fancy or seem to pair well and then, upon serving it cold, load it up with parmesan cheese. It's easy, never the same thing twice and requires only minutes in the galley when underway (because it's pre-made). Score.
But here's the clincher: with a little dressing up, it also becomes dinner. Dun, dun, dun!
When we drop the hook at 5 or 6pm after sailing for six, eight or twelve hours, the last thing I want to do is figure out a meal to make and cook it. So I take the leftovers from lunch and bedazzle them into a completely different meal which I like to call "pasta casserole surprise". Because, SURPRISE!! This was actually lunch, but now it's magically become dinner too!
I line a baking pan with some olive oil and a hefty dusting of bread crumbs. I then add the pasta salad on top, smother with some red pasta sauce and top with a load of shredded mozzarella cheese (because, honestly, doesn't cheese make everything better?). This, of course, is the most basic recipe. Depending on what I have on hand I'll jazz it up even further with additional veggies and accouterments.
|The basic ingredients neede to "dress up" the pasta salad lunch from above and turn it into a hot casserole dinner|
|For last night's dinner I had some extra tomato and eggplant on hand so I added those.|
I place all this into an oven preheated to 350°, let cook for thirty minutes (broiling the cheese on top for a minute or two) and - voila! - a totally delicious, completely different meal that takes almost no time, utilizes very simple and easy to access ingredients and requires almost zero culinary effort! Win, win, win.