• I’m way more competitive than I like to admit. I really (can you hear me whining?) wanted to go out for dinner tonight but we’re really trying to cut corners and save money so my husband challenged me to make something from what we had in the frig and pantry. Something different. Something in less than a half hour. Something that wouldn’t make a huge mess in the kitchen. So, I took him on and this is what I came up with.

    It’s kind of a cross between vegetable soup and American Chop Suey. I was totally surprised by the orange color. Didn’t expect it. But that’s what happens when you throw caution to the wind and try making up a recipe on the spot. Not my usual modus operandi. What the heck, it worked. It was really delicious, a keeper in fact. I panicked for a moment when I realized I hadn’t written down the steps. Fast, I had to scribble down the recipe or I’d never be able to duplicate the dish. Phew. Only thing is I have no idea what to call it.

    4 – 6 servings

    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 small carrots, diced
    1 celery stalk, diced
    2 tbsp tomato paste
    1 cup collard greens, cut into ribbons
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 tsp Organic Better Than Bouillon vegetable base
    pinch of cayenne pepper
    1 tsp dried oregano
    1 tsp dried basil
    1 tsp salt
    fresh ground pepper (a few turns of the pepper grinder)
    2 cups water
    1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
    2 cups tiny pasta shells
    1 cup frozen peas
    2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

    Over medium high heat, saute onion, carrots, celery in olive oil. After two minutes, add tomato paste and stir until blended into the vegetable mixture. Add collard greens, minced garlic, Better Than Bouillon vegetable base, cayenne, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Stir until mixed. Add water and TVP. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 8 minutes, covered. Add pasta and more water if the mixture has gotten too thick to allow the noodles to cook. Ya’ gotta use your intuition on this one. Cook on medium low heat, covered, until pasta is finished. Add peas. Cover again and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes, until peas are heated through. Add chopped parsley.

    TVP. I’ve had it in my pantry for ages. I tried making meatballs out of it a few months ago. It was ok, but I wouldn’t make it again. I almost threw out what I had left. I’m glad I erred on the side of frugality. This was a great use of the stuff. If you’re not sure what it is, click on this link.

    1. Tomato paste – I know, I know. Open a can and only use 2 tablespoons. Seems like such a waste. If you can find the tubes of tomato paste, go for it. Kind of expensive, but you keep it in the frig and squeeze only what you need out of the tube.
    2. Collard greens – come on, you know those dark greens are really chock full of good stuff. This is a really easy way to eat them.
    3. Better Than Bouillon comes in a small jar and is amazing. Pricey, but it will last a good long time in the frig.
    4. TVP – I’m guessing you’ll find this in most health food stores.

    So, if you’ve read this far and are in the mood to use your creative powers, what would you call the recipe? Any good ideas?
    • Gina

      I suggest “Pasta Come and Get it!” It’s great when a spur-of-the-moment thing works out, no? It always makes me feel like a better cook.

    • a kelly

      We used to call these kind of casseroles “surprises” as in Pasta Surprise, Tuna Surprise etc….but “what the heck is this” works too!
      And the extra tomato paste freezes very well in spoon size dollops. I use a plate with wax paper then transfer to a baggie or container.

    • Meghan at Making Love In the Kitchen

      What’s in a name? With all those vegetables you don’t need to name it. It’s just goodness.

    • I Am Gluten Free

      Dear Gina, a Kelly, and Meghan,

      Thanks! I will put your ideas into the pot and keep you posted, no pun intended!

      best, Ellen

    • Allie

      yumm… that looks really good & really comforting! I love a good one dish meal!

    • jamaise

      I would like to invite you to enter my Chebe breads giveaway. I am offering three winners a case(8) of GF Chebe variety dry mixes. Yum!

    • Sharon Hoehner

      Just in case you like chocolate, there’s a new one on the market that’s gluten-free, celiac-approved, etc. For more details watch the video on http://www.skinnywithchocolate.com. For people who don’t need to lose weight just snack on it rather than eating it before meals as is suggested for losing extra pounds.

    • Linda

      I’m terrible at naming things! Good for you for taking on the challenge. Maybe you’ll try it more often. It looks delicious.

    • Heather

      If you can’t find the tube tomato paste but have some organic ketchup (like Muir Glen) in the fridge, that can usually stand in.

      The pantry stew looks good!

    • GFmom

      I haven't tried this but it sounds great. FYI re: the tomato paste. A friend told me if I only have tomato paste in a can I could measure out the remainder of the can in tablespoon measurements and freeze them in a ziploc. I think ice cube trays may be in tablespoons (not sure…I remember using them for baby food).

    Previous post:

    Next post: