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.)

Vegetarian paprikash

November 23, 2009

This is Part II in the Must Empty The Fridge series, starring:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 5-6 medium potatoes
  • 2 smallish eggplants (or 1 large)
  • 1 bell pepper (composed, in my case, of 1/2 a green one and 1/2 a red one)
  • ~2 cups of liquid (chicken broth, vegetable broth, water, or a combination)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (at least!  …I won’t tell you how much I really used)
  • salt to taste
  1. Saute the onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes, eggplant, paprika, salt, liquid.  Simmer until the vegetables are soft; 15-20 minutes should do the trick.
  3. Add the peppers and let them get warm and happy for another minute or so.
  4. Serve over egg noodles.

Now, paprikash can be one of those comfort foods that transports some of us straight to our grandmother’s house, to a different continent and a different time…  But that’s perhaps only if sweet paprika is used?  I happened to use hot paprika, which gave the dish zero grandmotherly comfort but a whole lot of delicious roars and thunderbolts.