Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blue Plate: A Tale of Two Dishes

For the Blue Plate, I like to feature "weeknight" dishes: meals you can cook with pantry items or with leftover ingredients from weekend cooking. This week's Blue Plate is a little of both.

On Sunday, I spent the earlier part of the day in the kitchen cooking for Polyhymnia, who will most likely not have time once my future nephew finally arrives. For health reasons, Poly eschews carbs, but her husband grew up with and loves Italian food. So, to satisfy both of their needs, I made a batch of "lasagna" using eggplant instead of sheets of pasta. I dipped each slice of eggplant in an eggwash before browning in a pan. Then I layered them in loaf pans (a generous 2 person casserole size) the way you would a lasagna - alternating eggplant, sauce, cooked ground beef and sausage, ricotta cheese and a mix of mozzarella and fontina. While I was at this project, Phineas was busy laying in our annual winter store of wontons and dumplings.

Winter bounty: dumplings, wontons and lasagna.

Now there are several mini eggplant lasagnas in the freezer, waiting to be delivered. I used up all the eggplant and meat, but had leftover ricotta. So, for today's Blue Plate, the ricotta and my endless appetite for nuts were the primary catalysts.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a recipe for pasta with walnut sauce featured in the NY Times which called for items I had on hand, plus ricotta. Perfect! All I needed was broccoli raab, which I eat regularly anyway.

Corkscrew pasta with walnut sauce and broccoli raab.
Phin added a 'healthy' amount of black pepper to his bowl.

The sauce requires no cooking and can be made in the time it takes to boil water for the pasta. I used hazelnut oil instead of walnut oil, but using all olive oil would be fine, too. And to make this dish even easier, the broccoli raab is blanched right in the pasta water. I didn't bother shocking it in ice water.

The verdict: this is a keeper. It was creamy and flavorful and not overly heavy. It will definitely be a regular this winter.


Anonymous said...

Aren't you so thoughtful! I like both ideas! My hubby also often tries to eschew carbs. I like the pasta with walnut sauce dish. Now, I am hungry!


Clio said...

Thanks, Mar. I often find myself composing my food oriented posts when I am hungry!