Butterfly Pasta, Dinosaurs and Dewclaws

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.

So we sat in the house

All that cold, cold, wet day.
"The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss
Today was wet and rainy, causing any plans to go to the park and/or pool to be canceled, so The Kid bounced off the walls, while I suffered from general sluggishness. I also failed to make it to the grocery store, so when dinner time rolled around, I was faced with "nothing to eat" in the kitchen. In reality, my pantry is fairly well stocked, so I just had to use a little more creativity than I had on tap at that moment. I heated some olive oil in a skillet to medium high, cut up a sweet onion and threw it in, then started digging.
2 Tbs olive oil
1 sweet onion, roughly chopped

4 mushrooms, sliced

1-2 tsp mixed Italian herbs

1/4-1/2 tsp powdered garlic

kosher salt and ground white pepper to taste

9 oz package frozen green beans

15.5 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed

14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes with liquid

8 oz bowtie pasta, cooked according to directions

After discovering that the fresh vegetables that I thought were still in the vegetable drawer were a figment of my imagination, I found some more than acceptable substitutes in the freezer and cupboard. I added the mushrooms and seasonings to the onion before I began to search, and the dish's good flavor is mostly due to the extended time that the onion had to caramelize!
Once I'd finalized my vegetable/legume/pasta choices, I put some water on to boil for the pasta and added the green beans and cannellini to the skillet. After they were both warmed completely through, I stirred in the tomatoes and liquid from the can, then turned the burner down to a simmer, while the pasta finished cooking. I added the drained pasta to the pan and discovered that I had a really good dish on my hands.
The Kid was initially suspicious of the new meal and asked what kind of pasta it was. I told him that they were bowties, and he promptly disagreed with me, claiming that they were butterflies, not bowties. Which was absolutely charming, until he started waving the things around in the air so that they could fly.
We then had a spirited discussion over dinner about the differences between two of his many plastic dinosaurs, one of which was a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and one of which was not. The not T. Rex was very similar, but unidentifiable, despite bringing several dinosaur books to the table for reference. We established that:
1. The not T. Rex has distinctive fan-like ridges over its eyes.
2. The T. Rex has two digits/claws on its tiny front arms, the not T. Rex has three.
3. The not T. Rex's dewclaws are on the inside of his rear legs, the T. Rex's in back.
We moved on to the subject of dewclaws and what kinds of animals have them. Then came the evening's stumper, "Do swans have dewclaws?" I couldn't figure out how The Kid came to ask the question, let alone answer it, despite resorting to the Google. He explained to me that we needed to go to the zoo, get a boat, and turn the swans over to look at them! Then I remembered that the very first animal exhibit walking into Lowry Park Zoo is the pond with the black-necked swans in it.
It was an evening that left me in need of more adult conversation, but also very grateful that despite a tanking economy, my family is fortunate enough that, "nothing to eat" in my kitchen is actually a hearty, delicious meal with lots of leftovers. I'm also grateful that my child is so interested in the world and capable of planning elaborate ruses to get us to take a trip to the zoo!
Plus, I liked my Butterfly Pasta with Beans enough to make this my first submission to the fantastic weekly Presto Pasta Nights Roundup by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.
I still have a few questions, though. If anyone can help us identify the mystery dinosaur or establish whether or not swans have dewclaws without getting arrested at the zoo, I'd really appreciate it.


Mamma Sarah said...

Mmmm to your yummy dinner. I am totally going to have to try that one out. :-D

Libby said...

Thanks! I try to post the experiments that work out. (There are quite a few that don't.)

Nicole said...

Cute story! And I will definitely have to try this one!

Ruth Daniels said...

Your angel sounds awesome. I love the enthusiasm and curiosity...plus his creative solution to the dewclaw quandry...I did some google hunting myself (I'm easily side tracked) and you might just have to go to the zoo to find out!

From now on...farfalle will be butterflies in my house too! Thanks for sharing a great dish with PResto Pasta Nights.

Maggie said...

Great story! All of our stumpers lately have involved insects.

A Scientist in the Kitchen said...

That's what I like about pasta, anything goes.

Anonymous said...

Allosaurus- slightly smaller, came before the t-rex: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allosaurus