Feb 22, 2011

pantry cooking

PJ did the grocery shopping this week.  Usually, I figure out what meals I am going to cook during the week and buy the ingredients I'll need.  However, PJ has a different idea about grocery shopping.  He doesn't worry so much about a list and buys what he wants.  He did pretty well; I have several cans of fire-roasted tomatoes in the panty, dried beans, quinoa, pasta, tilapia, chicken breasts, a ribeye, and tons of fresh veggies.  The challenge for me was how to put these ingredients together into a meal.  It became freeing for me because I didn't feel restricted by a recipe; in fact, I made up my own.  Here's what we had for dinner tonight:

Tilapia withWhite Bean Tomato Sauce and Quinoa

(The night before:  put about 1 cup of dried white beans into a crock pot.  Cover with water and soak overnight.  In the morning, add more water to cover the beans, turn on low, and go about your day.)

1.  Start your quinoa.  I used two cups of water to one cup of quinoa.  I pour both into my pot, put a lid on it, and wait for it to boil.  Then I turn the heat down to med-low and let the quinoa absorb the water for 15 to 20 minutes.

2.  While the quinoa is working, add some olive oil to a pan and heat over medium heat.  Finely chop two carrots, one stalk of celery, half an onion, and a few leaves of fresh sage.  Add veggies to the pan; stir, season with salt and pepper, and give those a few minutes.  Add the sage.  Cook for five to seven more minutes, until the veggies are softened.

3.  Add one large can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes.  Stir well and add just a pinch of sugar.  Add several big scoops of white beans from your crock pot to the sauce.  We are pretty big fans of beans around here, so I add a lot.  It thickens the sauce and adds a sort of creaminess.  Turn the heat down to low and let your sauce simmer away.

I'm a messy cook.

4.  Preheat some more olive oil in a pan over med-high heat.  Get two shallow bowls.  In one bowl, add some breadcrumbs (I toasted three end pieces and crumbled them up in my food processor with salt, pepper, oregano, and a little red pepper flake.).  In the other bowl, stir up two eggs. (That's very technical right there.  Stir up your eggs, everyone). 

5.  Coat the tilapia in eggs, then breadcrumbs, and then add to your hot olive oil.  Cook for three to four minutes per side, depending on the size of your fish.  Feed your toddler some whole wheat pasta, peas, and apples because you know she's not even going to look at the food you've been slaving over.

6.  Scoop lots of quinoa into your bowl, add some of the tomato and bean sauce, and then top it off with your fish. 
PJ always likes to add more sauce on top.  He loves sauce of any kind.

PJ's verdict on this dinner was delicious and filling.  Between the white beans and quinoa, you are going to feel nice and full without consuming a Big Mac's worth of calories.  Yay!  I really liked it too, especially because I love tomatoes these days.  Try it, and let me know what you think! :-)


  1. If you weren't such a good teacher, you should have been a chef!! Nice cooking!
    Love you,

  2. looks delicious... only Michael won't eat fish. sigh. he is a picky eater.

  3. This looks amazing! I think I might give this a try sometime soon. Coming to you live from FTLOB's Sunday Blog Hop!


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