Monday, April 20, 2009

Convenience is not a four-letter word

Did I ever say I was against convenience foods? Because I'm not. Far from it.
In fact, just the other day I was holding up a canister while thinking, "Now thaaaat's convenience." Toaster strudel? Convenient! Curry sauce in a jar? Convenient! Having someone else grind the coffee beans, pull the espresso and steam milk for my afternoon latte? Convenient! 
What's not so convenient is waiting in line at Starbucks for 10 minutes and then being rewarded with an often mediocre product. Which is why, a couple of years ago, I made the switch to small, unique independently owned coffee shops for my afternoon constitutional -- a half hour or so when I take a break from my home office and venture out into the greater world to watch birds and squirrels and sip a hot beverage. 
As a happy offshoot, I've made some friends along the way, but more importantly, the lattes and snacks are way better than Starbucks. (Can you feel an announcement coming on?) And so, it is with great pleasure that I announce my first annual Coffee Crawl, whereby I visit a different downtown purveyor of coffee and snacks once a week for the next month or so, and then tell you all about it. Check back on Wednesday for my first stop.
But for now, enjoy the convenience of this fast and tasty dinner.
(Serves 4)
1 package President's Choice Veneto Pumpkin Triangoli (or other stuffed pasta you like or have on hand)
about a cup of green beans
some leftover roasted butternut squash (or almost any other vegetable you like and have on hand)
3 Tbsp butter
freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Put water on to boil for the pasta.
Tip beans, rinse with water, and then put them in a bowl, cover, and microwave for a minute. Cut beans in half. (I used beans here because I wanted some healthy, green crunch and had them on hand. Asparagus would also be lovely right now. Toasted nuts are another bright idea.)
Add salt to boiling pot of water, and add pasta, cooking as per package directions, usually about 4 minutes for fresh stuffed pasta. 
Warm up cubes of roasted squash in microwave.
Drain cooked pasta in a colander and while it's draining, add butter to pot. Heat on low until butter foams, then toss in pasta, coat with butter, then add beans and squash and gently mix together. Season with salt and pepper and a mitt-full of Parmesan. 

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