Real Food: Part I

Never, ever would I serve hot dogs for dinner to my husband. Lunch, perhaps, especially if I were turning the grill on, too. But not dinner.

But the kids like hot dogs, and I like easy meals, so we do, occasionally, have hot dogs for dinner when Bill is gone. Which is every day for those of you who aren’t paying attention.

In fact, in the interest of happy kids and simplicity, the types of food I’ve been serving for the last 6 weeks have been pretty basic. And now that tomatoes are ripe, I think BLTs for dinner once or twice (or three or four times) per week is perfectly acceptable. A thick slice of fresh tomato is on my top 100 list of proofs that God exists and loves us very much. For my own personal reference, I’m going to include this link to Jenn’s tomato recipes. I’ll be making some salsa this coming week, I think.

*****

A friend and I were trying to coordinate going to confession together. One of us could watch the under 7 crowd outside of the church while the other monitored the behavior of the others standing in line and herself too went to confession. Despite our church’s generous confession schedule of 4 times per week, we were having a difficult time coming up with one that worked for both of us. Finally we got to yesterday, and neither of us had a conflict. In fact, I discovered that her husband would be TDY, and it was her birthday.

(Wouldn’t it be lovely to be born on a Marian feast day? She said as a kid it was awful because she always had to go to church!)

So we decided to meet at the church for confession, stay for Mass and then come to my house for dinner and cake and ice cream. In Part II, I’ll talk about the cake.

For the kids, I decided to do pizza with my homemade and pre-baked crust. Pre-baking the crust and then storing it in the freezer means I can have pizza on the table in 15 minutes. Homemade pizza dough takes 90 minutes to make, and then I shape it into balls and rest it for 10 minutes, then I roll it out and let it rest for another 10 minutes, and then I add toppings and bake for 20 minutes (or just pre-bake for 10 minutes). Pizza is NOT a quickie dinner at our house, usually.

I was trying to come up with something for the grownups to eat, because having someone for whom to cook is the excuse I need to eat more sophisticated fare. I belong to a farm share program (which has been delivering me the yummy tomatoes I’ve been eating), and in this week’s box they included eggplant and this recipe:

Rigatoni with creamy eggplant and mozzarella

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium eggplant, medium dice
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup loosely packed thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 pound rigatoni or penne regate
8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, small dice

Saute onion and garlic in the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When just soft, add the eggplant, stir to coat in oil and then stir rarely until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove half the eggplant mixture and reserve.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.

To the eggplant mixture, reduce heat to medium-low, add the tomatoes, cream and half the basil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.

Add sauce to drained pasta and stir to coat. Add reserved eggplant, remaining basil and mozzarella and mix until cheese begins to soften. Serve immediately.

I had never had eggplant before, but I was willing to try this recipe. My friend told me she prepares her eggplant dishes by salting the eggplant at least 30 minutes before using and then rinsing the salt off thoroughly. She said it makes the eggplant less bitter. I left the sliced and salted eggplant in the fridge while I was at a church. Having never had eggplant before, I can not tell if this step made a difference or not.

This dish was very delicious. I wouldn’t have taken the time to type up the recipe if not, right? I don’t think my kids would care for it, but I will make it again sometime and have them try it.

My friend would have been happy had I served her the pizza. I’m glad I used her birthday as an excuse to make and share a new dish. And to eat some real food for a change.

*****

We concluded the evening by praying the rosary together. We couldn’t let that plenary indulgence opportunity go to waste! It was a lovely way to spend the Feast of the Assumption.

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3 thoughts on “Real Food: Part I

  1. You're right – what a wonderful way to spend that special day!

    BTW, according to an elderly Italian lady I used to take grocery shopping, the reason for salting the eggplant (& she put a weight on it to press out the juice)was to get the “poisons” out. It is a member of the nightshade family, along with peppers & tomatoes, but not deadly like “real” nightshade. Perhaps an Italian “old wives tale”?

    Glad you enjoyed the eggplant!

  2. Pizza dough is ready to top in 30 minutes at our house. I mix the dough, shape it into balls, and THEN let it rise, ugly side up. I can cut the rise to 20 min. if I'm in a hurry. After rising, I flop it ugly side down onto the pan, press it out and top it while the oven is preheating. 10 minutes. Another 20 to cook and it's on the table. It doesn't take any longer than any other meal.

  3. Quick question. How did you find a farm share program, how does it work, and where can I find one? 😉

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