I listen to a lot of podcasts, usually while I’m doing something that doesn’t require much in the way of thought. While folding laundry or cleaning bathrooms for example. I’m an NPR junkie, and it’s really nice to have programs like Fresh Air and The TED Radio Hour delivered to my phone. Slate also delivers weekly Political, Cultural, and Double X Gabfests. America’s Test Kitchen is my favorite food podcast. I can’t leave out This American Life and Serial. There really is a point to this long lead in.
The inspiration for last night’s vegetable bin casserole came from some random podcast that filtered in via earbuds last week. I think it was KCRW’s Good Food, though I can’t be sure. Anyway, the interview revolved around a common casserole favored in the north of Italy. It contained cabbage, onions, kale, potatoes, pasta, and fontina cheese, but the point was that any vegetables would do.
I had half of a small cabbage, onions, some kale, half of a cooked sweet potato, an open bag of orecchietti, some pesto, and leftover fontina cheese from another recipe, so I decided to create the dish from memory. Sometimes, this sort of thing work; sometimes not so much. This time, it turned out great!
1. Saute the onions and cabbage in a little olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and a shake of red pepper flakes
2. Blanch a couple of handfuls of chopped kale in boiling salted water. Remove the kale, and cook the pasta in the same water. I used about a cup of orecchietti (little ears), but any shape would do.
3. Add the kale to the onions and cabbage. Cook until the kale is soft. Add the cooked sweet potato and stir to combine. Add a few spoonfuls of pesto, along with the pasta.
4. Thin the mixture a bit with a little hot, salted water from the pasta pot.
5. I used an oven proof sauté pan, so at this point, I dotted the top with pieces of fontina cheese and put it in a 375 oven until the cheese melted.
I used what I had on hand, which is the real point of this dish. Almost any combination of sauteed veggies and pasta under a blanket of fontina really couldn’t be bad.