Dinner in two parts.
The wind’s been howling all day, sounding fierce and rattling windows. The snow has that windswept look to it. It’s supposed to go down into the single digits tonight. The house is cold.
It was almost spring a day or two ago. It was so warm I felt overheated in my winter coat. Now we’re back to freezing cold, blustering winds and snow. They’re expecting rain and temperatures in the 50s by this weekend. Go figure.
On nights like this I like to turn to my dinnertime staple: beans and greens. They’ve become our comfort food. It’s incredibly easy to make: saute kale or any other bitter or just-bitter green with four cloves of chopped garlic. Tonight it was kale, but in the past it’s been kale and Swiss chard or kale and spinach. You could do kale and collard greens, too. That would be good.
Step two: open two cans of white beans. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. I didn’t have any white beans tonight, so I substituted black beans instead. It tasted just as good. Combine the two when the kale is ready. I usually saute it for about 20 minutes or so. It’s up to you. Give the beans a few minutes in the pan to warm up and it’s ready.
I usually serve the greens dish over sliced and sauteed polenta. You can buy it in logs, as I did here. You can also make it from scratch, although that’s a lot of work and some very messy pans to clean up afterward.
This time I also decided to add some Brussels sprouts on the side. They were quite tasty, actually. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Both the black beans and the sprouts worked just fine.
After about 45 minutes of prep and cooking, dinner was ready. It was tasty, very filling and nicely textured. I loved the mouth feel.
It looks a little weird with the black beans, but the end result was just as good. Try it and see what you think!
I like to eat something warming and hearty on a weekend like this. Even with a empty-ish pantry, I was able to put together a very nice looking and smelling Quick Lasagne With Bean Sauce. The recipe comes from Jane Brody‘s Good Food Book. This book was published back in the day when high carbohydrate meals were all the rage. Yes, this has noodles and it’s delicious, thank you very much.
There ya go. Here’s the recipe:
Quick Lasagne with Bean Sauce
1 tbs oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked or canned red or pink beans
4 cups tomato puree or 2 cups tomato sauce and 2 cups puree
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 lb uncooked lasagne noodles
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, thinly sliced or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Prepare the sauce by heating the oil and sauteeing the garlic and onions for a minute. Add the beans and the tomatoes, oregano, basil and salt/pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
To assemble the lasagne, take a 9 x 13″ baking pan and spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom. Arrange the noodles over the top, so that they don’t overlap. Cover the noodle layer with half the ricotta and half the mozzarella. Then add about a third of the remaining sauce. Repeat with another layer of noodles, adding the rest of the ricotta and mozzarella and another third of the sauce. Layer the top, add the remaining sauce and sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese.
Cover the baking pan with a tight layer of aluminum foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour. If the mixture still has too much liquid, uncover the pan and bake another 10 – 15 minutes.
It smells wonderful, even at this stage! Just keep going until you’re out of ingredients.
When it’s ready, toss it in the oven and forget about it for an hour.
Take it out of the oven and you’re done!
Here’s a sneak peek at our dinner of a few nights ago. All of the tomatoes and about half of the corn came directly from the farmers market. The dressing contains no oil, yet still tastes wonderful. Low-fat, low-cal and tasty. Not a very common combination, is it?
Once we had our fill of Manchester-by-the-Sea, we moseyed on up to Rockport, at the tip of Cape Ann. It’s a famous (and very tourist-y) arts colony with plenty of galleries, boutiques, beaches and beautiful architecture.
We visit the north shore at least once every year and make sure we visit one shop in particular, the J. Lerch gallery on Bearskin Neck in Rockport. My husband and I love this guy’s photography. This year I got a very generous Visa gift card for my birthday from my father and my sister, so I decided to indulge a bit and buy myself one of his photographs. It’s a photo of an old-fashioned kitchen from Monhegan Island in Maine.
This photo is now on my table at home, waiting for an inspirational moment to hang it. Lovely. By the way, I nabbed this photo from the artist’s website, at http://www.rlerchgallery.com/index.html. Go visit and view his other photos.
We spent a lot of time just talking to the photographer, who also just happens to be a native of Buffalo, NY, my old stomping grounds. It was another treat in a day of treats – the chance to talk to the artist and find out what made him tick.
Rockport’s got some very pretty scenery: more coastline and cute little boats, along with tourist-clogged streets that nonetheless retain their charm and interest.
And lots of galleries, along with ice cream shops, trinket shops and what-not.
We eventually went on our way, deciding that we (okay, I) was too hot and tired to do any more walking. We decided to forego Halibut Point State Park and just get on with dinner. For that we drove out to Essex and settled on a place called Periwinkles. It was my birthday dinner and we were both of the opinion that the meal should be a bit more upscale than a picnic bench at Woodman’s (not that Woodman’s is a bad place, mind you).
We looked out over a cove with more boats. This time we actually got to see somebody take their boat out of the water. I find that very cool to watch. You back your boat trailer almost completely into the water, then get in the boat and drive it up onto the trailer.
And dinner? Well, fish of course, for me. What else, in the land of fish and fishermen?
Today started out on the wrong foot, a combination of stress and sleep deprivation that finally sent me over the edge. It happens from time to time. Time is, ultimately, what cures it too.
I thought I’d end the day on a better note and whipped up some hearty beef stew, from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. No place better to find hearty, American comfort food. I also had some stock I’d made from lamb and chicken bones mixed in with leftover vegetables. That went in, too. The end result? Marvelous!
So, I feel better now. Hopefully, by tomorrow this foolishness will have blown over.
Today was, as it has been of late, hot and humid. I holed up in my air conditioned study for a few hours (where I am now), but eventually started to go stir crazy. Luckily, the hubby had some plans to go out, so I tagged along. He even agreed to go food shopping at both Russo's – Italian, with fabulous produce – and Masse, which is an Armenian grocer. We loaded up with minimal complaints from the other half, probably because both places were air conditioned. Russo has great prices, so we loaded up on lovely, inexpensive vegetables and fruit, also some very nice breads.
From there we went to Masse, which is an Armenian grocer. We were too tired and hot to cook, so we got felafel, baba ghanoush, pickled vegetables, feta cheese and a chick pea/spinach salad. We brought them home to serve for dinner. Since it hadn't rained, I decided to water the garden before I forgot. I walked to the side of the house, watering can in hand – and saw…
Tons of them! Red! Rich red! Ready to pick and eat right there. I watered, I picked, I danced into the house and showed them off to the hubby. He went, "Wow! Take a picture! Are there any more?" I led him outside (now, this is my husband, mind you) and he gaped in awe at my over-burdened tomato vines.
We brought the loot into the house, washed it off, and started the feast:
At the top left is tsatsiki (yogurt, cucumber, garlic dip which I made a day or two ago. To the right is half of one of the tomatoes, then to the right of that is the chick pea/spinach salad. At the bottom left is red-tinged picked turnip (great with falafel!), and to the right of that is hummos with roasted red pepper. We dipped our bread, ate our veggies and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
And, just for show, I took some pictures of the tomatoes, next to some of the other produce we got at Russo's. Awesome!