The Economy of Leftovers / Pantry Necessities

In my relatively unemployed summers (if I believed in hashtags, #teacherlife would go here; I do see the irony in me using/not using it here. I am so cool) I am so often lazy. Today was an uninspired day. My boyfriend loves to snack and ate up my pita chips and I really, really didn't want to go to the store. I need to replenish some things but all I really wanted to do was read The Other Side of Midnight (I am almost out of Simone St. James books to read and that is sad.) I am right at the climax of the novel and am pausing to write this post. Prolonging its inevitable end, I suppose...

Anyway, on these days I also do not feel like cooking much. I really had to motivate myself to eat a full lunch. I do not function well if I do not, much like my mother. I had some aging tomato sauce from an okra parmigiana that I thought I'd just make with some noodles - but I took it one step further and made baked spaghetti. It took me all of 30 minutes to throw everything together. Lazy bones success.

I make this a lot (I have many lazy days), but it occurred to me that this fulfills some of my blogging goals - it uses some of the ingredients that I always have in my "pantry" (that is in quotes because my 1977 house does not have a pantry), and it makes creative use of what I have without letting it go to waste.

A few vegetarian pantry necessities:

  • boxed chopped tomatoes / tomato paste (you can make sauce easily, or here is my go-to sauce; also I buy Pomì, as it is boxed and supposedly safer than canned)
  • parmesan (I spend extra and get a wedge from the deli - the flavor is so much different and better from bagged shredded parmesan)
  • panko bread crumbs (Kikkoman is my preferred brand - they taste the best and I am pleasantly surprised that my favorite are the cheapest at Publix)
  • pasta (I buy it every time it is BOGO, no matter how much I have at home)
In this case, my sauce was already made, but I added tomatoes to the list because I use them so often - I am never without some boxed tomatoes in my home.

I vary the types of sauce I make with this - the okra parmigiana's sauce was a little too sweet for my taste, and quite chunky, so it's not my favorite. A bottled sauce will also do, but once you start making your own, bottled loses its appeal.

The prep for this just involved buttering a baking dish and cooking the pasta, and combining the cheese and breadcrumbs with some Italian seasoning. 

I eyeballed the quantities of the cheese - enough to cover 2 layers for my size dish. I combined some mozzarella and parmesan (about half and half), then stirred in about two handfuls of panko and sprinkled with Italian seasoning until the distribution looked right.

Layer the pasta, followed by sauce, followed by cheese, then pasta, then sauce, then cheese again.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes until sizzling and golden brown.

Savor the laziness, the cost efficiency. Pour some wine and bemoan your dwindling supply of good books by your current favorite author. (Oh, that's just me. But you get the idea.)

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