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.)


Our “Lost” treat

February 3, 2010

We have a tradition of eating fiercely hot, seriously doctored up ramen while watching “Lost.”  So here’s how we rang in the start of the final season:

“Lost” ramen

  • 1 package Shin Ramyun per person
  • 1 poached egg per person
  • 2 shredded carrots
  • a touch of shredded ginger
  • a fistful of spinach leaves
  • 4 chopped scallions

    Roasted vegetable lasagna

    January 25, 2010

    Here’s the recipe I was originally going to share:

    Wretched January

    • 1 earthquake
    • 1 removal of limits on corporate campaign financing
    • 1 healthcare reform bill at risk of deflating like a botched soufflé
    • 1 f#@%ing roof leak
    1. Combine all ingredients.
    2. Season with endless hours of darkness.
    3. Serve cold.

    But, I actually have a cheery addendum.  Mr. Onepot informed me earlier that a lasagna would make him feel better–this from a man who never makes food requests!  I mean, he’s equally happy regardless of whether he’s eating a decadent multi-course meal or some strange whole grain/mystery fungus experiment of mine.  So how was I to say no?

    Roasted vegetable lasagna

    • 3 red bell peppers
    • 2 zucchini

    (What’s that?  You’re about to tell me that those are not in season?   You know what’s in season in Chicago right now?  Icicles.  So let’s move on, shall we?)

    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 lb frozen spinach
    • 1 lb cottage cheese
    • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
    • 2 8oz cans tomato sauce
    • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
    • a fistful of shredded cheddar, a bit of parmesan, and some gorgonzola crumbles
    • capers
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. I seasoned the first 3 ingredients and roasted them at 400F for 25 minutes.
    2. Then I combined them with spinach, cottage cheese, and diced tomatoes.  Yup–all together just like that.
    3. Then it was time to layer, and there’s really nothing to tell.  I used 1 little can of tomato sauce under the bottom noodle layer and the other on the very top.  In between: a layer of vegetable+cottage cheese mixture, a sprinkling of other cheeses, a layer of noodles, and so on and so forth until I ran out of ingredients…
    4. …and heaved the overflowing dish, cursing a little, into the 380-degree oven.  It spent the first 45 minutes in there bashfully covered with aluminum foil, and the final 10 minutes naked, under a sprinkling of cheese and capers.

    Ah, it was good.  And, as we patted our full bellies, we started to feel just a tad hopeful again.

    For starters: the roofer comes tomorrow.

    Spinach salad with sunchokes

    November 13, 2009


    Really, Internet?  You say sunchokes cause grueling episodes of gastrointestinal distress and volcanic gas eruptions?  But look how charmingly quirky and innocent-looking they are!


    Ok, I admit: it is a little bizarre that the water in which a sunchoke is steamed ends up looking like this:


    But we’re courageous folks, so we soldier on.  We’re going to have a spinach-&-sunchoke salad, toxic-looking liquid and gas rumors be damned!

    • 1 sunchoke (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichoke)
    • 3 fistfuls of spinach leaves
    • 1/4 small red onion
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • glugs of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

    And we will toss it all together, and we will eat it, and it will be lovely.

    And then we will wait.


    Do you ever find yourself promising a dozen of your dearest friends homemade baklava?  And then, much later, realize that you need to spend a perfectly inconvenient weeknight elbow-deep in butter and sugar and nuts in order to keep this promise?


    Well, if you ever do, here’s what you should throw together for a quick dinner just after you’ve tucked the baklava into the oven and just before your blood sugar levels plummet below the safe-for-husband threshold:

    • 2-3 fistfuls of fresh spinach
    • 1 cup cooked quinoa
    • 2 pears
    • 1 fistful of walnuts
    • a toss of blue cheese crumbles
    • a splash of balsamic vinegar