Thursday, July 25, 2013

RV Gourmet Meals - Not That Hard

    One of the main features I looked for before I bought my RV was a full kitchen/galley. I wanted a four burner stovetop and a convection microwave that could double as a regular oven. Of course, plenty of counter space was important, but I could accept a bit less than I have at my sticks and bricks home kitchen. Why was this so important, you may ask? Well, I love to cook. I love to EAT too, but that's an whole 'nother issue! A well equipped kitchen makes cooking easier. Believe me, you don't have to be at "home" to make tasty, gourmet-style meals on the go. This week let's take a look at one of my favorites....PASTA!

Pasta is a versatile food. It comes in lots of shapes and sizes and can be boiled, baked, even microwaved! Traditionally, spaghetti and meatballs is a tried and true favorite. Let's look in another direction. Let's start with a 1 lb (16 oz.) box of your favorite small to medium pasta shape. I like medium Rigatoni for this one. You'll also need some chicken breast (cooked or raw), a bag of frozen peas (small), some sliced mushrooms, some diced sweet red (or other color!) peppers, some red (Bermuda) onion, fresh or freeze dried garlic and a little bit of olive oil. Later on we'll talk about spices and quick, non-red sauces. Boil about 4 quarts of water (5 is better, if you're making a whole box of pasta) with about a tablespoon of salt added. While that's on the burner, slice the chicken into strips then cut the strips into 3 inch pieces.

Good Sized Non-Stick Skillet
OF COURSE, if you are using raw chicken, now would be a good time to cook it! Once that's ready cut up the pepper(s) into small strips about 2 long by 1/2 inch wide and set aside. Heat up a medium or large skillet on another burner set to medium high heat  and add about a tablespoon and a half of the olive oil. Let the oil heat thoroughly. At this point I usually add some fresh or freeze dry sliced garlic. If that's not your thing, leave it out! When the garlic begins to "crackle" add the onions (if you want them) and then the chicken. Cook until the chicken is almost cooked through (about 10 minutes) and then add the cut red peppers. Turn down the heat and sprinkle on spices to taste. You can use salt, black pepper, and parsley. (A little bit of white cooking wine goes well here too) If you want more of a Pesto, add more parsley and oregano. If you're not using fresh spices, I like to reconstitute them with a bit of water first (only for the "sort of" pesto)

Do not get locked into to this as a recipe. I find some of my favorite meals on the road are from experimentation. You could add cilantro and some salsa for a GREAT Mexican version. The sky's the limit here. If it tastes good, you've done it right!  At this point the water should be at a full boil. Dump in the pasta slowly and give it a stir. Let it come back to a boil as you gently stir your chicken mixture. Get a serving
Freeze Dried garlic
bowl, or just use the pot after it's drained, like I do!

Put a colander in the sink (or outside if your going to dump the water outside and that's OK where you are). Fill the colander with the frozen peas from the bag. Once the pasta has reached your desired doneness level. (Check this by tasting it! But let it cool off first. I know it hurts when you don't) Shut off the burner and dump the boiling water and pasta over the peas in the colander. Presto! They're cooked to perfection. Give the colander a shake and put some butter/margarine in the bottom of the still hot pasta pot. I usually use about 3 tablespoons for a full pound of pasta.

Dump the Peas and pasta from the colander over the butter/margarine and stir until melted and coated.  Turn off the burner under the chicken mixture. Dump that over the pasta and stir to combine all the ingredients. You could also serve the pasta onto a plate and place the chicken mixture on top. Better presentation that way. But I'm looking to EAT not LOOK! Add some grated Parmesan cheese over the mix and eat!

You can feel free to substitute almost anything here. Sausage, cut up or crumbled for the chicken. Almost any vegetables for the peppers and mushrooms. Most frozen vegetables will defrost and cook through with the boiling water trick.

As you can see, it's easy to make a variety of meals from this basic technique. This same theory can apply to breakfast...I covered that in another article. It's not difficult, no fancy culinary skills needed. But, believe me, it sure tastes good!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

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