My freezer has always been a tomb. It’s where odds and ends would wind up, behind the ice, lonely and forgotten. I’ve been able to dedicate significant real estate in the freezer just for cocktail glasses. I know that’s ecologically irresponsible, but the fridge came with a freezer and we like to have ice.
I have had a bit of a revelation: not all frozen food is bad. I can hear my mother snickering at this comment. It started with peas. Frozen peas are handy to have around when you run out of fresh green vegetables. Our favorite way to eat the peas is to butter poach them. Yeah, butter poach. Thinly slice a shallot and place in a small pot (I like to use crock wear for this) with a generous tablespoon of butter, turn the heat on medium low and melt the butter, then add the peas and cover the pot. The peas are done when they are all hot and bubbly. Doesn’t get easier than this and a tablespoon of butter isn’t the end of the world.
Then I ran into the frozen fish section in Italy. There are all sorts of wacky stuff in the fish section, but I like to have on hand the mixed seafood pouches. You can have soup or a fish sauce in about 10 minutes. I wouldn’t use the frozen fish for anything but a soup or sauce, so I’m still a fish snob at heart.
My current infatuation is frozen mushrooms. There are some great mixed chopped mushrooms available here in italy, with and without porcini, or even whole bags of just porcini. Again, they are great for a soup or a sauce. If you find yourself with an abundance of fresh mushrooms that you can’t use right away, clean and dry the mushrooms then spread them out on a cookie sheet pan, making sure they aren’t touching each other, then freeze them. After they are frozen place in an airtight bag or container.
Tagliatelle con Funghi
Approx 1 ½ cups frozen mushrooms
1 medium thinly sliced shallot
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
3 T olive oil
Salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley
Fistful of grated parmigiana.
Put your pasta water on to boil.
Sweat the sliced shallot in the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta. Low heat, no brownage on the shallot. After the shallot has softened, add the frozen mushrooms and stir them around so they thaw and heat evenly. Keep the heat low so you don’t scorch any of the ingredients.
When your pasta is just about cooked, generously pepper the mushrooms, add about a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Drain the pasta and toss into the mushroom pan, add a generous handful of grated parmigiana, taste for salt. Plate the pasta and sprinkle liberally with finely chopped parsley.
So now I’ve dedicated one third of my freezer space to actual food and I’m justifying the eco-expensive of keeping a freezer because I’m not driving down into Umbertide to buy food everyday. I may as well learn to love my freezer since I’m living with it anyway.