Will you settle for this quickly snapped iPhone shot from this morning, taken while I was wearing a single sock and brushing my teeth?  I promise the dish is worth it.

Quinoa + lentils + walnuts

  • .5 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can lentils (but surely some of those tiny red uncooked lentils would cook in just delightfully if added during step 2… just make sure you add more water as well)
  • .5 cup chopped walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute the onion and carrot for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa and stir for a couple of minutes, mostly because it’s just so lovely watching it get all toastedy.
  3. Add water; cover; cook on low for 10-12 minutes.
  4. When the quinoa is done, stir in the lentils and walnuts.

In other news: SPRING!  I know, I know–I have now jinxed it and the universe is already laughing at me as it plots a wicked blizzard in order to teach me a lesson. But oh!  I had a moment of pure bliss earlier today when, after stepping out of a store and instantly going into my defensive shoulders-to-ears posture, I realized that the air actually felt… nice.  And it smelled, as my friend put it, “almost happy.”

February graced us with:

  • 1 bout of stomach flu
  • 1 death in the family
  • 1 week of construction
  • 1 visit of Very Important Business Partners From Abroad

Here’s an example of what sustained us on those many nights when we barely had enough energy to wield a paring knife for 30 seconds:

Arugula + black bean + corn salad with roasted garlic

  • .5 lb frozen corn, cooked
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 fistful arugula
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 head garlic
  • olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper
  1. Cut off the top of each garlic clove and drizzle with oil.
  2. Roast the garlic at 400F for 30 minutes.
  3. While the garlic is roasting, throw the corn, beans, and arugula together and top with avocado.  Splash with a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar; add salt and pepper to taste.

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.)

Winter salad

February 5, 2010

Who says that winter is a wretched, terrible, not at all good time for salads?

Well, I do, most of the time.  But look!  This combo is pretty darn tasty.  And it’s so good for you that you can feel mighty righteous after eating it and justify just about any kind of dessert afterwards.

Winter salad

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 small red cabbage
  • 1 thimble-sized bit of ginger
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • gorgonzola
  • curly parsley
  • olive oil, salt, pepper to taste

Of course, you know how to throw it all together without any help from me.  So I’ll just contribute this one nugget of wisdom: once you’ve cooked the quinoa, toss the chopped ginger and garlic in right away and let it all steam under the lid for another couple of minutes with the heat off.  This takes a bit of the zing out of the garlic.  Your coworkers will thank you for that if this ends up being your lunch the following day.

Monday kicked my butt.  I actually thought I was masking my scatter-brainedness rather well with a carefully choreographed series of motions and scripted exchanges delivered at strategically chosen times over the course of the day… until I tried to make dinner.  And washed an onion.  And, while opening a can of garbanzo beans, got splashed with bean juice both on the forehead and, intriguingly, up by my left elbow under a long sleeve. And then sat down to write about it and typed “eggplant” with two ts.  And typed “typed” with two ps.

But you know what’s great about eggplantt and leeks and cracked wheat and garbanzo beans?  You really can’t go wrong, even with markedly diminished cognitive skills.  For that, on a night like this, I’m most grateful.

Cracked wheat with eggplant + leeks + garbanzo beans

  • 1 cup cracked wheat
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 Chinese eggplant
  • 1 leek
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce (my cupboard suggested “Spanish style” and I didn’t argue)
  1. I sauteed the cracked wheat in some olive oil just because that made me happy.  Then the water joined the party, and it all boiled and then simmered for some 20 minutes or so.
  2. In the meantime, I sauteed the onion and eggplant in a separate skillet, all the while getting rather distracted by The Daily Show.  So, I think I added oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper.  It kind of tasted like I had.
  3. Then, when the eggplant and onions became soft, the leeks and tomatoes went in for an additional couple of minutes.  And lastly, after the forehead + elbow splash incident, the garbanzos jumped in.
  4. And then we ate and were happy.

Chayote

January 11, 2010

Thanks to Serious Eats, I was tempted to tackle a new vegetable.  Hello, chayote!

eyes and lipstick needed, no?

I held this puppy up for Mr. Onepot to inspect, and he assured me that it was “that fruit we once had.”  Silly boy.  A quick consultation with my baby Jesus revealed that I was actually holding a squash.   Really?  “Ok,” I figured, “I can work with that,” especially given this nice and simple recipe as a starting point.

  • 2 chayotes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lime
  • salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes
  • balsamic vinegar
  1. While the onion was sauteing, I cut the chayote into long slices.  Pretty and all–but  again, squash?  It was looking decidedly like an unripe pear.
  2. I tossed this pear-like thing onto the onions, cringing a little.  Then I squeezed the lime on top of it all, added salt + pepper + red pepper flakes, and let it simmer for 5 minutes…
  3. …at which point it tasted like an unripe pear with lime and onions.  Unacceptable.
  4. That’s how the oregano, parsley, and balsamic vinegar became involved.  And the whole thing simmered for another 1o minutes.

And what do you know.  Somehow, the unripe pear became acceptable.  If chayote were a person, you’d have to worry about it joining a cult–it’s that susceptible.  But in a vegetable, I suppose, this is not necessarily bad.  It seems that you can influence it in any direction; it will simply need a lot of guidance.

Ugly-no-more pie

December 21, 2009


Remember my ugly but delicious pie?  The one that made my colleagues gasp in a not-so-good way when I pulled it out for lunch?

Well, it’s been bugging me ever since, and with a rapidly growing sense of urgency.  See, my Unbelievably Adorable Dad’s birthday is coming up soon and I very much want the pie’s flavor –but not its looks–at our party. Really, one should not have to celebrate getting within a year of Medicare eligibility with a breathtakingly unattractive dish.

And behold!  The problem has been solved.  Thanks, Serious Eaters, for your many good ideas.  It was actually Chef R0bert’s observation–that the following ingredients, mixed, were simply not going to produce an appetizing concoction–that made me slap my forehead and realize that I should simply layer them instead.

Baby portabella + butternut squash+kale pie

  • 1 pie crust (yours or Pilsbury’s; I’m not going to judge)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 butternut squash, microwaved (like this) and disemboweled
  • 1 fistful of kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces and steamed for 5 minutes
  • 1 14oz can roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper (or more, if you’re like me and like FIRE)
  • salt to taste
  • a toss of blue cheese

You will notice that kale and blue cheese are the only deviations from the original recipe.  The kale is there because I desperately needed something green all of a sudden, and the blue cheese joined the party simply because that’s what we had this time around.

  1. Sautee the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
  2. Pour the mushroom mixture into the pie crust.  Top with layers of squash, tomatoes, kale, cheese.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

Is this not SO much better?