Kale “lasagna” with tomatoes & roasted red peppers

Kale “lasagna”

I’ve always had a habit of becoming irrationally fond of inanimate objects. An oddly shaped twig, a little sketch I made, a blank book, a pen, an acorn. The list goes on and on. I would imbue them with importance, with personality, with magical powers, almost. At the moment it’s a little quince. I’ve said in the past that I love everything about quinces, and that remains true. I love their flavor, their scent, their name, their name in french (coing), the fact that you need to give them a lot of attention to make them palatable, the fact that they start out quite drab, but become lovely and rosy when you cook them. We have a little quince bush in our backyard. It’s a cutting from a tree by David’s aunts old house. We didn’t think it would live, but it’s doing quite well. It even produced a few little fruits this year, its second year with us. The fruit didn’t ripen, though. It fell to the ground – tiny, pale and very hard. It smelled nice, so I held onto it. I put it beside me on the desk, and there it sat for a few days. I worked all weekend, and Monday morning I thought about the quince. I couldn’t see it anywhere, but I could smell it, unmistakable and sweet. David had moved it to the top of a nearby bookshelf to save it from the boys, who had been playing at my desk all weekend. The poor thing is smaller, shriveled, soft, starting to turn brown in spots. But it still smells intoxicatingly good! The uglier it gets, the sweeter it smells. And I’ve become fond of the wrinkled little thing. I feel like a swooning lady with her smelling salts, I hold it to my nose and it elevates my spirits. It’s like autumn in a tiny rotting bundle.

So…kale! We got some kale from our CSA, and some red peppers, and some eggplant and of course, some more tomatoes! I decided to boil up the kale, and treat it like lasagna noodles. I washed it and removed the stems, but kept the leaves long. I boiled them for about twenty minutes, so they were quite soft, but still bright, and not falling apart. And I stretched it out like lasagna noodles, layering it with ricotta, roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes. I had some leftover eggplant anyone can love, so I added a layer of that. It was delicious, but if you don’t have it, or have time to make it, this dish will still be very delicious! I broiled a red pepper, let it steam in a covered bowl, and then removed the skin and seeds. you want to be sure to let it sit for a while, and discard any moisture that collects. As with any lasagna that contains vegetables, you want to be sure the veggies are quite dry before you add them, or the lasagna will form a broth. This broth happens to be quite tasty, though, so if you have some bread to sop it up, you’re golden!

Here’s Bill Withers with Ain’t No Sunshine, because it’s a beautiful song, because it’s a rainy day, because I miss my dog.
Continue reading

Gorditas with roasted salsa and pigeon peas

Gorditas

So it’s the first week of school. I ventured to the CSA this morning to pick some vegetables – easier, quicker, and much less fun without my boyish entourage. On the way home, I heard a man on the radio talking about raising successful children by teaching them grit and character. (I realize that I am very badly paraphrasing the words of this man who sounded both reasonable and intelligent, and I apologize.) His words really struck home, as we send the boys back into the uncertain waters of a new school year – by turns bright and clear and uplifting, and dark and murky, full of fascinating silt and weeds. They learn from it all, of course! I think it must be impossible for a parent to hear somebody talk about this subject without turning it back on themselves. Am I doing enough to teach them grit and character? How do you even do that? What the heck is grit? What’s character? Secretly, part of you thinks, “Of course I’m doing a good job! Just look at my brilliant boys!” And part of you thinks, “My god, I’m failing completely, they’ll be gritless and lacking in character and scarred for life!” Somebody phoned in a question about I.Q. and academic success – assuming a correlation between the two, and the man said that in fact self-control was more important than I.Q. in determining academic success. Oh dear! I thought…parent-teacher conferences for both boys tend to run, “Your son is so smart and creative, but he’s just got too much energy/he calls out too much/he can’t focus on the assignment…” Sigh. We hit a strange patch last year with Malcolm, when his first “real grades” report card came out, and it was very different from the straight s+ report cards of years gone by. Oh dear! Well, this is when it always helps to take a step back and widen the picture for yourself, and think about the meaning of “success” and how varied and subjective it is. (Of course I want my boys to be successful in every accepted conventional sense, of course I do – life is so much easier that way!) But when you ask the boys what they’re good at, what achievements they’re proud of, they’ll say: jumping off of things, finding an antique bottle in a creek, drawing dragons and robots, running very fast, climbing steep hills. They feel good about these things! And, honestly, any of them can lead to every kind of success, if they’re not discouraged. And I’m glad that they like writing and reading, too, and that Malcolm’s favorite subject is math. They both love school, and that makes me feel very lucky and very happy.

Roasted salsa

And, of course, they’re good little cooks!! These gorditas were very fun to make, and even more fun to eat! I have to thank the proprietess of Hot Spicy and Skinny for drawing them to my attention, when she read of my struggles making tortillas without a press. I’m not sure if I made them authentically. I sort of combined a bunch of different recipes that I saw, and I used a combination of butter and olive oil rather than lard. They turned out so tasty! Crispy, chewy, flavorful. We split them in the middle, but it might have been easier to pile the peas on top, or even break off pieces and use them like naan. The salsa is the result of my preference for roasted garlic, onions and peppers over raw. I decided to roast everything (well, broil, really) and then mix it all together. It’s yummy! Smoky, a little sweet, a little spicy. You can use any combination of sweet peppers and hot peppers that you happen to have on hand, and you could easily use onion instead of shallot. And the pigeon peas match their earthy meatiness with bright sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro. We ate everything mixed together, with basmati rice and grated sharp cheddar.

Pigeon peas and corn

Here’s Expectations by Belle and Sebastian.

Continue reading