Grumpy Pasta OR Pasta with Stuff from the Fridge that Would Otherwise Go Bad

A rare look inside our fridge. Post-Grumpy Pasta. We were too hungry to take a photo of the actual dish.

I don’t understand it. 6:15 p.m. sneaks up on me and I haven’t begun the stuffed acorn squash dish I’ve dreampt up, haven’t even gone out to buy the ingredients needed for the recipe. Moreover, I haven’t exercised, haven’t taken a shower, haven’t changed out of my pajamas and have only marked one item off my to-do list. I am on leave. The only things I have to do are read books and write essays. Where does the time go, I demand grumpily?

Of course there are the two blogs, a nascent hula hoop business, a 50,000 word challenge for October I’ve set for myself, but really, come next September, on top of all this I’ll be back teaching, which is about another 60 hours a week more than what I’m doing now for my MFA. With all this time on my hands, how does dinnertime manage to catch me unawares?

In the kitchen, Wayne’s got the Wheat Thins and Greek olive hummus out on the counter, not too confident about the status of dinner.

But I’ve got Plan B: pasta. Pasta with all the certified naturally grown produce from the farmer’s market that’s going to go bad in days, hours maybe, if I don’t turn it into dinner.

Roll call: half a t-rex sized zucchini, three tomatoes (two heirloom, one basic red), white onions, and jumbo garlic. Also: black olives, tempeh, shredded parm, spices. I see an Italian style fresh red sauce. Crisp, crumbled tempeh for substance, spiked with fennel seeds–an obscure sausage allusion.

By 7:00, improbably, dinner is served. This is good Wayne says, surprised. All that grumbling in the kitchen apparently had him worried.

End of Summer Pasta (a.k.a. Grumpy Pasta)

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 TBS + 2 TBS olive oil or canola
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 big fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a handful of black olives, minced
  • 1 package tempeh (you’ll likely have a bit left over)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced in half moons or quarters
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper (optional)
  • shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
  1. In a sauce pan, lightly saute the garlic and onion over medium low heat in the 1 TBS of olive oil. Reserve a couple tablespoons of the garlic and onions in a small bowl to flavor the tempeh.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, bay leaf and olives to the garlic and onions and allow to bubble over medium heat until the tomatoes turn themselves into sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, crumble the tempeh into 2 TBS heated oil over medium-high heat. Cook until the tempeh gets crispy.
  4. Just before shutting off the heat, add the reserved garlic and oninos, fennel, salt and pepper to the tempeh. Stir well.
  5. Add the tempeh, zucchini, and salt and pepper to the sauce.
  6. Serve with a sprinkling of additional salt and pepper, crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Ta-da! Bye bye grumpy!


  1. Nicely done, and tastey! 🙂

  2. oh, I sooo relate! (lol)…have to try this one (hmmm…it does sound a bit like my fridge at the moment, only ‘shrooms instead of olives & the pasta’s gluten free…)

  3. 🙂 Sometimes yummy things come from messy fridges!

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