The calendar says September and with the changing of the season comes the beginning of the school year. Doris is headed back to school for a graduate degree and will be at class twice a week during the evening! That means the hero of this column will be scrounging for dinner multiple times a week.
With that in mind, I went into my dinner preparation trying to think of something that will last for 2 dinners. What I ended up going with was a variation of my special baked ziti. The ingredients for "Loner Ziti" include:
1 package of ziti or penne (with lines is essential)
1 jar of tomato sauce
1/2 bag of mozzarella cheese
1/2 can of pitted black olives
1 package of baby bella mushrooms
Water from the tap
I started things off by boiling the water. It's good to get the meal prep off on the right foot, and I felt with my water boiling expertise I could do no wrong with this approach. As the water was boiling, I sliced the baby bella mushrooms and placed them in the saute pan. I also drizzled some olive oil over the mushrooms because I've seen Doris do this in the past.
Once the water came to boil, I dumped the entire box of penne into the pot and let it cook. Amazingly, the penne and the mushrooms completed around the same time, which would have been good planning if there was any type of planning being done.
I strained the penne and put it back into the pot it was cooked in. I then added the entire jar of tomato sauce, the 1/2 can of pitted olives, and the mushrooms. I mixed them all around and place the contents in a 8 inch square casserole dish. I topped it off with the shredded mozzarella.
I then placed it in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes so that the cheese could melt and the sauce could warm up. As the picture shows, everything came out looking very good and it actually tasted OK too!
I cut out a quarter and dug in. When Doris came home from her evening activities, she had a quarter herself. Later this week, when I'm alone again, I'll have some of the leftovers for my second self-sufficient dinner of the week. There might even be enough left to bring to work for a lunch!
I can confidently say the dinner was a success based on the execution, taste, cost, and reuse of the dish. For the first twice weekly bachelor dinner, I have found a go to meal that will be repeated again and again. Additionally, if I get tired of this particular recipe, I could always add ground meat, or peppers, or onions, to mix it up a bit.
The challenge for next time is to come up with something just as tasty and resourceful. This baked ziti will be tough to top. But, as always, I am up for the challenge of fending for myself, and I am up for the challenge of topping this ziti!!
Until we meet again....