Dining In: Pasta with Salmon & Tuscan Veggies

Pasta with Salmon & Tuscan Vegetables — sounds like something I could expect from my favorite Italian chain (no, not the one with the tree). Curly corkscrew pasta, with ridges to catch every bit of a garlicky, herb-rich sauce. Salmon marinated in garlic, parsley and oil. Broccoli, cauliflower and green beans bathed in garlic-butter sauce. With a glass of pinot grigio, this is a wonderful meal to enjoy al fresco with friends. What’s not to love, right?

Well, here’s more. What if all the hard work has been done for you, and this whole meal could come together in 20 minutes, not including pasta cooking time? It did for us with this meal, because the whole thing materialized with just 3 things in my shopping basket at Trader Joe’s: frozen “Bean So Green” seasoned vegetable mix, frozen salmon filets in chimichurri sauce, and pasta. Okay, this particular corkscrew pasta is not from TJ’s but you could substitute any of the bowtie, penne or rotini pastas that TJ’s does have and it will be as fabulous. Just slice the slightly frozen fish (it’s easier to slice that way) into bite-size pieces, and saute in a skillet with a small bit of olive oil. You don’t even need much oil because the marinade has oil too. Once the fish has taken on a little color, increase the heat to high, and add half the bag of frozen veggies and half the quantity of cooked pasta, stir together, cover and allow to steam and cook for about 5 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of that pinot. Stir through again about half way through the cooking time. Voila, dinner!

Normally, you would expect to see the fish and veggies seasoned from scratch on these pages, but these are not normal times. At least not for us. This was made in a hotel room. True, it’s a room with a fridge and kitchen cooktop (no stove, but at least I can boil water for pasta, and saute and fry in a skillet or wok), but it’s in a hotel nonetheless.

If you’ve stopped by here in the last few months, you may know that we have been house-hunting since January. Well, we’re still house-hunting. But the lease on our rental house ended in April and we did not want to be locked into another year lease, so we moved out. Nor did we want to be tied to an apartment lease either, so we opted for long-term hotel lodging. Judging from the quizzical looks we get from friends and colleagues, this option freaks a lot of people out. For us, though, it is usually part of every move we’ve made (5 in the last 14 years), so we know the drill: store your stuff, find a hotel with kitchenette, look for permanent solution — in this case a house to buy.

So with a few kitchen necessities, and in this case lots of fabulous products from a source we like and trust, we can at least keep ourselves fortified and our spirits up while we transition yet again.