Winging it without the cooktop

When the gas cooktop goes on the fritz, a bit of ingenuity is in order.  A little more than a week ago the ignition switches on all six burners suddenly started clicking furiously in the middle of the night. The racket was stopped only by shutting off the power. The repair man returns tomorrow to fix a faulty ignition switch, just in time for the holidays. Meanwhile I’ve been winging it on our meal plan, relaying on the microwave and oven more than usual. Along the way we stumbled upon some tasty surprises:

sole rollups

Copycat pesto works on Meatless Monday

Sun-dried tomato pesto — A huge jar of sundried tomatoes is taking up more real estate in our refrigerator than I usually allow for a non-essential ingredient. My in-laws gifted the jar on their last visit and I’ve been searching for a quick and easy way to make haste with the batch, especially since the boys aren’t too crazy about them. Thus, there I stood in the market on Day one of our Cooktop Breakdown, pondering a menu change, when I spied a jar of Ciba Naturals Sun-dried Tomato pesto. One look at the label and I knew what I’d be making … the perfect topping for roasted spaghetti squash:

INGREDIENTS: Organic extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, organic sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, walnuts, fresh garlic, rice vinegar, kosher salt, rosemary and black pepper.

Along with sole fillets with a Parmesan “Caesar” glaze, on a bed of fresh spinach, we ended up with a Meatless Monday meal more elegant than most.

I felt myself winging it as well the next evening since timing was tight before heading to a school concert.  Luckily Metropolitan Market came to the rescue with a Sicilian stuffed pork tenderloin that was so scrumptious I retrieved the packaging from the trash to study the ingredients:  Pork tenderloin stuffed with pesto, garlic, balsamic vinegar and topped with slices of provolone cheese and pancetta. I roasted it in a cast oven skillet with some chunks of yam. Serve an arugula salad with fennel and pomegranate on the side. At this point my husband wondered if we really missed the cooktop all that much.

The rest of the week’s meals weren’t quite so fancy — Zatarain’s Dirty Rice; Chicken with Green Curry Sauce.  By the weekend, when we had friends over for a holiday dinner, I resorted to igniting a burner or two with a lighter to regain some sense of normalcy at the stove.

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