Thursday, July 14, 2011

vacation dinner on the fly

We specifically rented a vacation house so that we could cook a few meals instead of eating out at restaurants every night. Which always gets old and bloat-inducing after a few days, at least to me. I also like any excuse to cook in a kitchen bigger than my own, which is pretty much every kitchen.

But first we needed food. So Mom programmed the GPS to direct us to a local grocery store. We drove along many long, winding roads, not sure of where we were headed exactly. But that's part of the charm of being in the country, driving along traffic-free roads, enjoying the scenery, breaking for deer on the side of the road or a particularly crazy-looking yard sale.

So we drove and drove and the GPS, in her sexy robot-lady voice, eventually told us we were approaching, oh, let's call it the Country Corner Market. And we turned a corner and found what looked like a gas station with a large sign advertising nightcrawlers for $1.99 a pound. You probably don't want to buy food at a place where live bait is the main draw.

"Do you want nightcrawlers for dinner?" my dad asked. So we made a quick U-turn and with the help of sexy robot GPS lady, found Price Chopper, the local mega-market.

I pushed a giant shopping cart around the Chopper searching for ingredients for an unknown dinner. I've turned into one of those people who cannot shop without a grocery list and it's a confidence killer when you're trying to throw together a meal on the spot. And shopping somewhere unfamiliar didn't help either. The florescent lights and foreign aisles made my mind go blank, so I just tossed a bunch of vegetables in the cart, grabbed a box of pasta and made a beeline for the exit.
Back at home, Dan stepped in to help me make a summery pasta dish, kind of a riff on succotash but with linguine. While he chopped tomatoes, asparagus, and a bell pepper, I stripped the kernels off of a few cobs of corn and sauteed some chicken breasts on the stovetop. The vegetables got a quick saute, then we added them to the cooked pasta with a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt (always a recipe-saver), a squeeze of lemon, a handful of parmesan, and some basil.

Like our lovely alfresco steak salad dinner, this was kind of a no-brainer meal. As in, I didn't even really have a firm idea of what we were cooking until it hit the table. But somehow it did the trick. Slightly creamy and full of crunchy vegetables, the pasta and simply prepared chicken were a refreshing change from the heavy diner sandwiches and roadside apple cider donuts we had scarfed during the day. Or maybe all meals taste better when you're on vacation?
Spontaneous summer linguine
Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you'd like.
(Serves 4 to 6 people)

1 box dried linguine (or spaghetti, or penne)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
Kernels from 3 cobs of corn
1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 handful basil, torn roughly
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper

Put a large stockpot of salted water on to boil, and cook the pasta according to the package's directions.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onion turns a bit transparent, stirring occasionally. Add in the corn, asparagus tomatoes, and bell pepper. Saute for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is done, drain it and put the noodles back in the stockpot. Add all of the vegetables and stir well. Then add the cheese and yogurt and stir until combined. Add the lemon juice and basil and stir again. Adjust the seasonings if necessary and serve with extra parmesan cheese on the side.


Anonymous said...

We loved the potpourri pasta dinner! Improvising skills need to be packed in the suitcase next to the sea salt and emergency chocolate.

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

You just reminded me of our adventures shopping at the Food Lion in the Outer Banks during senior week... group shopping with hungover college kids is not a good idea.

Daniel said...

The Chopper has its own brand of Greek yogurt! Way to go, America! This is how we win the future!

Bed and Breakfast Brugge said...

Beautiful vacation dinner and yummy dinner recipes . good posting


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