Fine dining for the zombie apocalypse

I’m no survivalist, but I like to think that when the zombie apocalypse finally arrives – or, say, someone finds a single-syllable way to explain Manifest Destiny and our borders are overrun – that we’ll at least eat really well for a couple of days before being eaten ourselves.

In fact, some of my favourite impromptu meals could be considered trial runs – feeding upwards of 30 people on two-hours notice when snow and ice storms take down power lines, close roads and force businesses to shut down. My go-to meal in a crisis? Fresh pasta with a meaty red sauce that can be stretched to feed any hungry horde. You’ll find recipes for two sauces and a hearty sausage cannelloni below.

The key to apocalyptic preparedness is to always have a few basic ingredients on hand.

My basic zombie (or ice storm) survival kit looks like this:

  • herbs-and-breadPantry: Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, peaches or mangos, dried or canned navy, white or black beans, dried pasta if you don’t make your own
  • Fresh: Carrots, celery, onions, peppers, garlic, potatoes, squash, apples, oranges and lemons, eggs
  • Freezer: beef, pork, chicken and shrimp
  • Cured and aged: bacon, prosciutto or salami, parmesan or similar hard cheese
  • Baking supplies: flour, white and brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder
  • Herbs and spices: at minimum, rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, black pepper, chili pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • Other essentials: Fresh bread (recipe here), coffee, tea and cocoa, butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and maple syrup, dark chocolate, olives and anchovies (ok, not actually essentials, but helpful)
  • Wine – lots and lots of wine

fresh-pastaWhen you need to feed a small army, a simple but protein-and-vegetable packed red sauce is a great place to start. With either of the options below, you can simply serve over fresh, cooked noodles, with crusty bread and a green salad, or add to a heartier dish, like sausage cannelloni (recipe follows).

Bolognese sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage meat
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. garlic
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 stalks celery, washed and diced
  • 1 red pepper, washed, cored and diced
  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes (800 ml/ 28 oz)
  • 5 cups tomato sauce
  • ½ cup fresh basil, washed and sliced
  • Oregano and parsley
  • ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot, and add sausage meat. Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery and pepper. Cook until meat is browned.

Drain off any grease. Add remaining ingredients to pot, simmer to let flavours blend.

Switch up a few ingredients to make a richer and more aromatic puttanesca sauce.red-sauce

Puttanesca sauce

Named for the Italian prostitutes who once used it to lure paying customers off the street. Matt swears it has aphrodisiac properties, but, to be fair, he’s been known to say that about dry toast.

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup diced pancetta (like a thick Italian bacon)
  • 1 lb Italian sausage meat
  • 6-8 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. garlic
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 stalks celery, washed and diced
  • 1 red pepper, washed, cored and diced
  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes (800 ml/ 28 oz)
  • 5 cups tomato sauce
  • ½ cup fresh basil, washed and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, washed and sliced
  • Oregano and parsley
  • ½ cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup capers

Heat olive oil in a large pot, and add sausage meat and pancetta. Cook until meat is browned. Add anchovies, garlic, onion, carrot, celery and pepper. Drain off any grease. Add tomatoes, herbs, spinach, olives and capers. Simmer to let flavours blend.

While purists will tell you that meat isn’t required in a red sauce used in baked pastas like lasagna or cannelloni, we love the extra oomph a good Bolognese brings to these dishes.

Sausage-stuffed cannelloni

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  • Fresh lasagna sheets, enough to make 24 3×5” strips

Filling:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb Italian sausage meat
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp. garlic
  • Basil, oregano, parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Topping

  • ½ ball buffalo mozzarella, shaved into thin slices (or 1 cup shredded mozzarella)
  • Bolognese sauce

Directions:

  • Cut lasagna sheets into 3×5″ strips.
  • Set aside ½ cup ricotta, then combine filling ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.
  • Prepare a large baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom (recipe below).
  • Shape roughly 3 tbsp. filling into a log and place along the short edge of lasagna noodle.
  • Top with 1 tbsp. ricotta cheese.
  • Roll into a tube and place in pan. Repeat with remaining noodles and pack tightly into pan.
  • Cover cannelloni completely with Bolognese sauce (recipe below), top with thin slides of mozzarella.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 350F

Other apocalyptic advice:

If you don’t have a generator when the power goes out, a gas stove is going to make your life easier, but a barbecue – used outdoors in a well-ventilate area – also does the trick.

I’ve mentioned it in other posts, but for meals like this, the Philips Automatic Pasta Maker is one of our most treasured kitchen toys. We also keep a hand-cranked version on hand in case the power goes out. Fresh pasta just tastes better, and can be ready in about the same amount of time it takes to boil the water and cook the dried stuff.

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