Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Unemployment and The Human Response

First of all, sorry for the delay since my last post. Being unemployed is hard work once the weather gets real nice like it's been in Chicago. At any rate, I aim to write sooner than soon, but for right now, I wanted to go against my usual philosophy of not posting recipes and, well, post a recipe in response to requests I've gotten about the piece that aired on NBC last night (click on the "Watch Video" picture on the left-hand side; my piece comes in at about the 1:25 mark). In the segment, I explained how some good grub can be had for cheap, much like in the Sun-Times article, shopping through the wonderful HarvesTime Foods and deciding to make a quick, easy, and relevantly cheap Eggplant Pasta with Feta Cheese and Dandelion Greens. Of course, you can make the pasta yourself at home, but for the segment we bought some dried pasta, which works fine. Anyway, without further ado, the recipe:

Eggplant Pasta with Feta Cheese and Dandelion Greens
Hugh Amano
Makes 4 servings

2T + 3T olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
1 big handful dandelion greens, chopped (about 1/3 to 1/2 bunch, any bitter green will work)
3oz +1oz feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
1# spaghetti

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In medium saucepan, heat 2T olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and sweat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add a splash of water and adjust heat if vegetables begin to burn. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and bring to a slow simmer. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until all ingredients are soft and blending together. Cool slightly and puree. Set aside.

Heat 3T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add eggplant. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until softening. Add greens and continue to cook for 3 more minutes, adding a splash of water if needed to prevent burning. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water. Add tomato sauce to eggplant and greens and combine. Remove from heat and stir in 3oz feta cheese. Toss with cooked and drained pasta and plate equally onto four plates, garnishing with remaining cheese.

And there you have it. Quick and simple and easy and delicious and cheap. Nice Mediterranean flavors with the eggplant and tomato and feta; olives wouldn't be bad on this, either. Eat it with a big jug of wine and slab of bread, and you'll be all set. Not the most complex thing out there--but hey, don't we all need a little simple comfort these days?