Last night, I informed Mr. Onepot that we were about to order Chinese.  Then, out of some poorly defined but quite persistent guilt, I found myself preparing the following:

Polenta+spinach+black bean strata

  • 3 cups water + 1 cup milk
  • 1.25 cup polenta
  • .5 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • .5 lb spinach (fresh, in this case, but surely frozen would also do)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 380F.
  2. Bring the water and milk to a boil.  (Remember that milk will trick you into thinking it’s nowhere near boiling, and then, in less than a second, puff up to an obscene height and spill all over your stove top.  So, sorry to say, you will have to babysit this just a bit.)
  3. Once it boils, stir in the polenta and salt.  Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  (This you don’t have to babysit!  I’ve never understood why people complain about the intense attention polenta requires.  In the Old Country, we treat it roughly and it turns out just fine.)
  4. While the milk+water are heating up, start sauteing the onion.  Once it’s soft and happy, add the beans along with a touch of their liquid.  Season ever so generously with paprika and cayenne pepper.
  5. After the beans and onions have had, say, 5 minutes to get to know each other, turn the heat off, toss the spinach on top of them, and cover.  The residual heat will cause the spinach to wilt just a touch, making it more manageable.
  6. In an altogether unrelated bowl (oh, this is so not a one-pot dish), beat the egg and combine with the yogurt.
  7. Layer!  First the polenta, then the beany and spinachy mix, and finally the yogurty egg.
  8. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

(…In the end, I was so very glad we hadn’t ordered Chinese.)

Why do I even bother with multi-step dishes when something this simple makes people swoon?

  • goat cheese
  • capers
  • roasted tomatoes
  1. Tomatoes go on top of the cheese.
  2. Capers go on top of the tomatoes.
  3. Everything goes into the oven: 10 minutes at 375F.


December 18, 2009

Come on, you know you’re interested despite the funny name!

As usual, I’ve taken some liberties with the original recipe.  May the gods of sticking to a formula forgive me.


  • 1 package fillo dough
  • 1lb cottage cheese (mine was small curd, fat-free–but feel free to improvise)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a handful of dill, chopped
  • salt to taste (1/3 teaspoon is a fine starting point)
  • olive oil
  1. Saute the onion until it’s soft and translucent and luscious.
  2. Loosely whisk the eggs; add cottage cheese and salt.
  3. Fold the onions and dill into the egg+cheese mixture.
  4. Ok, ready to layer?  This is where you are allowed to get a bit grumpy.  I sure do.  (And then I remember my own grandmother, who made her own fillo dough once a week… and I go from feeling grumpy to feeling like a bit of a loser).
  5. Actually, the rest is quite easy.  After you oil the bottom of the baking dish, you will: a) put down a sheet of dough; b) brush it with olive oil; c) repeat… until you have approximately 5 sheets down.
  6. Top with 1/3 of the egg+cheese mixture.
  7. Add another 4-5 sheets of dough (don’t forget the olive oil).
  8. You get the idea: another 1/3 of egg+cheese goodness, another 4-5 sheets of dough…  The top layer should consist of 4-5 layers of dough and 1 sacrificial sheet that’s going to protect the loveliness underneath while it’s in the oven.
  9. Bake at 375F for ~45 minutes.

You’re probably thinking, “Hey, this is a lot like baklava.”  Oh, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things my people can stick between layers of fillo dough!  The possibilities are endless.


November 6, 2009


I won’t even begin to pretend that this is comparable to that lovely substance we get at our favorite Middle Eastern joint.  This is a different, tahiniless beast–but still so very good:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans (drain and save 1/2 of the liquid to include in the hummus)
  • 1 hefty clove of garlic
  • some lemon (say, whatever you have left in your fridge at the end of the week?… in my case, a less-than-inspired elderly half)
  • salt to taste

Toss it all together in your food processor and pulse until smooth.  That’s it!  (Unless you’re me and can’t resist adding cilantro and paprika.)

Then, when your husband comes home and wants to know why you smell like garlic, you can send him straight to the hummus bowl to have some ASAP; that way, neither of you will notice the intense garlickiness of the other.  And may I also recommend some merlot, and the new Paul Auster, and a movie on the sofa with two purring kittens in this mild early November darkness?  Because that’s where we’re headed, and it is good.