Not so long ago, most people could and did plant a garden, not for looks but for sustenance. A spot of dirt was cleared out beneath the home and a root cellar was set up to keep those things that could survive the long winters, with some preserved pieces of meat, often pork, kept at hand for that extra protein kick.
Nowadays, we have access to canned goods, which serve the same purpose. Some are out-of-the-can meals, like soups and stews, while other are more basic fares. Today, I will demonstrate that a delicious meal can be made with a few cans and a handful of basic staples that should be part of every larder.
Its a simple base, with plenty of possibilities for creative expansion. For one thing, some herbs would change the dish remarkably: a pinch of oregano, some chopped parsley, a touch of rosemary, a little can go a long way. You could add some greens, like frozen or fresh spinach. Sauteing some quartered button mushrooms would add other textural dimensions, as would a handful of corn or green peas. Trade the fresh tomato for sun-dried tomatoes in oil and you're bringing in a different beast into the mix. Even something as simple as a dozen good olives would add great flavors at a low cost.
The cooking liquid could be plain water if you're broke, or you could toss in some beer or wine. A good stock wouldn't hurt either, even if its just a small amount; the cooking process will concentrate the flavors to your advantage.
As you can see, this is something that can be put together in about ten minutes and feed a few people on little more than the price of a happy meal. Very little accompaniment are required, but if you wanted to make it interesting, a nice green salad and a fresh roll with some butter would sate your hunger without draining you too much. Once again, this a single pot dish that can easily be turned into lunches, and that can be served hot or room temperature, summer to winter.
Try it and tell me what you think!