Sometimes dinner is more about putting together a few items from the fridge and pantry and less about actual cooking. Last night was one of those times – I had something planned for dinner, but as the morning’s rains moved out, leaving us with a beautiful, warm evening, the meal I originally had in mind seemed too heavy. I needed a Plan B.
In addition to my outline of meals for the week, I keep a running list of ideas for quick pantry dinners in my menu planning notebook. Often this list is nothing more than combinations of ingredients that I think would work well together, and I often turn to the list when I need to come up with dinner on the fly.
We’re big fans of canned and tinned fish of all types, so we’ve always got some in the pantry. I thought of the two tins of Cole’s Petite Rainbow Trout we had on hand, and decided to go with one of the combinations listed in my little red book: trout+potatoes+mustard. I whisked together a couple of tablespoons each of mayo, creme fraiche and Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, a minced shallot, salt, pepper and a teaspoon or so of brown mustard seeds to make a tangy and lightly creamy dressing. I added a good handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley for color and an herbal kick, and then gently tossed the potatoes and trout in the dressing until coated. I mounded the salad over a big bed of baby lettuces, added a little more freshly ground pepper, and that was that – dinner in minutes, with a minimum of time, effort or fuss.