What Happens When You Spring Clean Your Kitchen

Sauteed onions and cabbage sliced long and thin with pesto sauce

Last week was all about how to spring clean your kitchen. This week I’d like to show you what happens when you do. If you caught last week’s post, you know about my “keep, ditch, try” method where you ditch the stuff that’s gone bad, keep what’s still good and then try making meals from what remains. You can find it here if you missed it. The star ingredient from my “keep” pile was a jar of pesto that I had been storing in the freezer. It was time to use it up along with a few other items that were not long for the world. The picture to the left is a shallow 10 inch skillet with the onions and cabbage I sauteed for the frittata you see below. Next is a pesto stuffed pork roast. I thought pork couldn’t get any better and then I stuffed it with pesto. Oh my! Even my mom was impressed when I told her about it. In the last photo we indulged in fresh cheese tortellini. We had exactly two servings left (12 oz.). Well, two servings for us. It’s possible that some folks might eat less.  Below you’ll find a combination of recipes and loose guidelines. I urge you to try them out. Trust your ability to improvise. You’ve been eating your whole life. You know food.

Pesto and vegetable frittata

Frittata with pesto and vegetables

Some very wise person once said that necessity is the mother of invention. I needed to use up a jar of pesto so I invented the pesto frittata! OK. Maybe invent is a bit strong, but I’ve never had it before so I’ll just quietly claim it as my own. In a skillet, I resuscitated the wilting cabbage and onions from my “keep” pile and then added a couple spoons of pesto. I measured nothing. Instead, I partially filled the skillet with my vegetables leaving room for about 6-8 eggs. In a bowl, I beat the eggs and added a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Then I seasoned the vegetables in my skillet with salt and pepper as well to layer the flavor. Next I poured the eggs into the skillet over the vegetables and stirred the mixture from the sides and bottom of the pan so that the eggs cooked evenly. I continued cooking the eggs over low to medium heat until they began to solidify slightly, taking on the shape of the pan and voila. Frittata. The quantities for this kind of meal are directly proportional to the size of your skillet and what’s left in your refrigerator. I had 8 eggs so I used 8 eggs. Frittata is great for leftovers and things you need to use up. It’s a good source of protein and an easy way to add vegetables to your meal.

If you’re feeling ambitious and happened to have 2 dozen eggs in your “keep” pile, try my special Easter frittata. It’s an advanced take on a simple frittata and you don’t have to wait for a holiday to make it.

Pork roast stuffed with onions and pesto

Pork roast stuffed with onions and pesto

We still had one onion left so I chopped half of it and mixed it with some pesto. That became the magic ingredient to liven up the pork roast we saved from frost bite. First butterfly your roast (AKA cut it open). On a cutting board, slice the roast horizontally on one side, stopping before you cut it in half (about an inch before you get to the other side). It will open like a book, a slightly messy book. Coat the pork on all sides with olive oil, salt and pepper. I also add a variety of other herbs and spices depending on my mood. Rosemary adds a wonderful, savory flavor. You can also use garlic powder and onion powder. Then take your onion/pesto mixture and spread it across one of the inner sides of the roast to fully coat it (if you have too much pesto mixture to fit inside the roast, save it to drizzle over the roast when it’s done). Close the roast like a book and then tie it with kitchen twine to keep it together. For further instructions on cooking the roast, see our classic recipe here. You can see it sliced in the main picture of this post. Pork is the chicken of our kitchen, but you can use any sort of roast for this. Beef or veal would work. You can even use a boneless turkey breast. It depends on what you salvage from your spring cleaning. Hopefully this gives you an idea of how to stock your freezer in the first place! That would greatly improve the results of your next spring cleaning.

Tortellini with pesto, onions, mushrooms and extra basil

Tortellini with onions, mushrooms, basil and pesto

This is another easy meal that just doesn’t qualify as a recipe. I didn’t measure each ingredient. I just used what I had left. This is very often how I determine the quantity of ingredients for a given meal. I took the remaining half of a large white onion and the half container of mushrooms (about 6 oz.) from the “keep” pile and chopped them very small. Next, I sauteed them in olive oil until they were soft. Then I seasoned them with salt and pepper. In the meantime I cooked the tortellini (12 oz.) in boiling water. When they were done, I scooped the tortellini out with a slotted spoon and added them to the onions and mushrooms and reduced the heat. Next I added pesto and a splash of pasta water and mixed to incorporate all ingredients.  You can see that the pesto is a bit light since we didn’t have much left at this point. Luckily we have basil growing in the apartment. I added a generous amount of basil and some grated cheese (the last of our pecorino) and dinner was done. We had a brand new meal idea made from odds and ends that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Be sure to let us know if you spring clean your kitchen, and if you try any of the dishes in this post. We’re just a click away of you have questions and we’d love to hear from you.

Did you spring clean your kitchen and end up with nothing in the “keep” pile but ice, butter, mustard and instant rice? That’s OK. Either way grocery shopping is never far off, and you can BUY pesto. Or you can follow this handy recipe. Shop wisely friends. Your future spring cleaning depends on it.