As many of you know, we try every product before we bring it into the store – both hard goods and food. That means ordering samples, trying samples and kissing a fair number of frogs before we find the perfect products for you. It also means a lot of half-full jars of antipasti, open packages of pasta, rice and beans, and random pieces of cheese hiding in the back of the refrigerator. And that drives the Italian in me crazy – I can’t stand the thought of wasting food.
Luckily, there’s an easy solution – once or twice a week, we throw together an easy pasta salad using whatever we have on hand. We’ve been making it for years, calling it “kitchen sink pasta salad,” but only recently found out that the Italians have a name for it – Pasta Svuota Frigo, or “Clean Out the Fridge Pasta.”
It’s as easy as it sounds. Grab a pasta that’s fairly small and easy to stab with a fork (shy away from long pasta like fettucine, linguine and the like). We love a pasta made from farro or whole grain – like the Monograno Felicetti farro ditalini. And if you don’t have (or don’t want) pasta, the salad works great with brown rice or whole grains like farro or wheat berries.
Cook your pasta al dente and drain it. There’s no need to rinse it. Stir in a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together, let it cool and start adding your fridge leftovers. Use any jarred antipasti that sounds good (artichokes, sundried tomato, olives) and any cheese that you like. Cut up anything that’s larger than bite-sized. Beans are a great addition- especially chickpeas and cannellini beans. Toss in any leftover fresh veggies or herbs that you have in the fridge. Tossing in a few bites of vinegar-packed antipasti (like olives, capers or mushrooms) adds a nice counterpoint. There are so many choices so don’t be afraid to experiment!
As for the dressing, you’ll need olive oil and vinegar. if your antipasti are packed in a good quality extra virgin olive oil, use it. It will be infused with the flavor of the antipasti and will spread that flavor to the whole pasta salad. If you’ve added vinegar-packed antipasti, that may be enough vinegar. If not, add some balsamic vinegar.
And just like that you have a delicious, healthy lunch or dinner using only what you have on hand! Plus you have a clean fridge and no wasted food!