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Search for meal provides great finds in pantry

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It has been very busy with working at the polls, visiting friends at the chamber golf scramble, attending a funeral, meetings and doctor appointments. There was very little time to spend grocery shopping for much needed food items.

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Of course, many of you are much busier than I am these days, and I can certainly appreciate all your hard work and efforts to put a nice meal on the table. Our busy lives do not make it easy for us to do so.

By Saturday, I was really running out of food in the refrigerator.  I have plenty of meat because we purchased a quarter of beef last summer, however I do not like to have beef every day, nor is it good for us to have it every day. I try to keep my beef meals down to two to three per week, but that isn’t always easy. The vegetables were getting scarce in my frige and my husband really likes salad with his meals.

 I had pulled out a package of boneless pork chops, four of them to be exact, so that was my base for my meal. What to have with it? I had no potatoes, but plenty of pasta and rice. No fresh tomatoes, but I had fresh spinach, baby carrots, green onions and celery. I also had a package of Brussels sprouts in the freezer. So here is what I did:

Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops

For the pork, I placed in a zip lock plastic bag the following:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp. Greek seasoning

2 tbsp. minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

4 boneless pork chops

Zip the bag closed and mix all ingredients together.  Marinate for about 30 minutes. Place on grill that registers 350 degrees.  Cook , with cover on grill, about 7-8 minutes on one side, turn over. Turn off grill and leave grill covered for another  5 minutes.

In the meantime, while meat is marinating, I made a spinach pasta salad with the following ingredients:

3 cups cooked and cooled pasta

3 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup green olives, whole or cut up

6 green onion tops, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup diced baby carrots

1 tbsp. Greek seasoning

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook the pasta until al dente, then cool under cold water; set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in salad bowl; add in cooled pasta. Toss with following dressing:

3 tbsp. lemon pepper marinade

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. olive oil

Once I had completed the salad and placed it in the refrigerator, I could then cook the pork chops on the grill. Since the Brussels sprouts were in a steam bag, all I had to do was put them in the microwave and cook them for 5 minutes. They cooked while the chops were finishing up on the grill.

The pork chops were absolutely delicious, and frankly, so was the salad. It was so colorful and inviting on the plate that the food said “eat me.” I did not season the Brussels  sprouts, they did not need it.  The flavors all blended together so well and was not overwhelming.

The moral of this story; use what you have on hand, and you can make a really great salad out of almost anything. Now I have enough left over for lunch on Sunday and all I have to do is re-heat it. The other moral to this story; I better get myself to the grocery soon or I won’t have anything on hand to use.

Enjoy!

Lonnie Sundermeyer is a professional caterer residing in Ghent, Ky.