Friday, February 13, 2009

Desperation Food

Photo--including actual garlic chips!--via Smitten Kitchen.
You know those days when you leave the gym with just enough money to take the bus home and you have a huge load of produce in your bag because you just picked up the CSA box but you forgot to bring extra bags so it's all on your back and you also happen to have your bike and you're STARVING. TO. DEATH. because all you've eaten all day is a lousy frozen dinner but you don't want to pull out an apple to eat on the bus because it's gross and all you want is a warm meal and a bath NOW?

You don't?

Trust me, it isn't nearly as awesome as it sounds.

It's days like this that I turn to what I think of as desperation food--quick meals that don't take a lot of thought and can be made with whatever I have on hand. Last night, it was a modification of Gourmet's spaghetti and Swiss chard with garlic chips (and by modification, I mean that I didn't have most of the ingredients in my pantry).

First, I heated a good amount of olive oil in a nonstick pan (about three tablespoons, since the oil was going to be the only liquid in the sauce), sliced the red onion from my CSA (the recipe calls for dicing a yellow onion, but red was all I had, and I didn't want to lose the sweet taste of the onion by chopping it too finely), and threw it in the pan. Meanwhile, I boiled a pot of (generously salted) water for pasta and cleaned and roughly chopped up a couple pounds of chard (also from the CSA) and sliced the stems. When the onions were soft (about 10 minutes), I added the chard stems--such pretty shades of red, yellow, and green!--and let them soften, adding salt and pepper when they were nearly done. I took a big scoop of the weird prepackaged garlic Alex likes to buy (waste of money, say I! but, last night, welcome), and threw that in too. After everything simmered a few minutes, I added the chopped chard leaves, gave it all a stir, and put a lid on it. Then I threw the spaghetti in the pot of water and let it cook about 10 minutes; by the time the spaghetti was done, the sauce was, too. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar (the recipe calls for Kalamata olives, but that sounded gross for some reason) and served the pasta with a generous grating of Romano cheese. Not the most amazing thing I've ever made, by any means--but on a miserable wet night, after an hourlong bus ride and a cold ride up the hill with a 40-pound bag on my back, exactly what I needed.

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