The Most Essential Ingredients

Do you ever feel like you just spent a ton of money at the grocery store and yet, you can’t think of a thing to make? I hear this often and try to figure out why I don’t feel this way. And then I realize, it’s the most basic of staples that can turn the ordinary into extraordinary.
My cooler may be almost bare, but it will most likely sport a head of garlic, a jalapeno or two, and some ginger just waiting for a chance to enhance a ‘lost’ meal.
Try adding a minced mélange of these jewels to something as simple as scrambled eggs- just add them to the fry pan with olive oil or butter before putting in the eggs and sauté over low heat until you begin to smell the aromatics. Enhance a quick tomato sauce in the same fashion; add these ingredients to a chopped onion sautéing over a medium heat before adding fresh chopped tomatoes (or canned product).
I was in such dire need of a grocery run, I ended up sautéed the trio up, added an onion, celery, and jarred red pepper, and made a quick soup by simmering pasta and canned white beans for about 8 minutes after having added a pint of chicken stock that I quickly defrosted from the freezer. Not much better than that on a damp day!

1 Tbsp olive oil- divided
1 clove garlic, minced
½ -1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 jarred red pepper, rinsed and chopped
1 pint chicken stock
1/3 can red beans, well rinsed
2 oz whole wheat pasta
S & P (if you’re using canned chicken stock, use low sodium and omit the salt in this recipe)
½ oz parmesan cheese, grated

Heat ½ Tbsp olive oil in a soup pot over low flame. Add garlic, jalapeño and ginger. Sautee until you can smell the fragrance, about 3 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add the other ½ Tbsp oil, onion, and celery to pot. Cook about 5 minutes, when onion starts to soften. Add red pepper, beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Add pasta and simmer according to box directions and your palate(depending on the size of the pasta you choose and how al dente you like your macaroni- between 5 and 12 minutes). Adjust seasonings, add parmesan and enjoy!

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