Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Late Winter Meals: Eating Lately (Refried Beans with Veggie Hash and Eggs, Sausage Soup, and Polenta Bowls)

It's been a long winter here in Boston. This week we have a reprieve, but since the God of Prediction Nate Silver says we're probably gonna get more snow, well, I thought I'd better post our late winter staple meals. I'm starting to move onto lighter fare, but I'm sure that these three will make at least one more appearance each before it's really spring.

Sausage Soup
I've made soooo many variations of sausage soup this year. I took photos of none. But! Look! Someone else already did a better job than I ever could on the food photography and recipe development front! Lucky for you, Deb Perelman's version is delicious and hearty, with sausage, lentils, chard, and garlic. I subbed the carrots and celery for potatoes and red peppers and think it was the favorite attempt of the season.

Refried Beans with Veggie Hash and Eggs
A pretty standard improvised weeknight meal for us. I just pick my favorite veggies -- usually red peppers, potatoes, jalapenos, garlic, shallots, and kale -- chop 'em up and saute them in olive oil, with tons of salt and pepper.

Right before they're finished I clear two little spaces in the pan for my eggs, crack 'em and fry in a bit of butter while the veggies finish cooking. Serve it up with hot refried beans and either rice or warm corn tortillas. Sharp cheddar and avocado are always welcome additions, and spooning on some of this hot chili garlic sauce is a must.

Polenta Bowls
A long time ago, Annalise tried to sell me on Joy the Baker's Baked Polenta with Tomato and Basil. Ever the know-it-all, I assured her I wouldn't like it. Then I moved to Boston now I make my own version of it at least weekly. My apologies for the condescension, sweet sister. Clearly, you know what's up and what's good.

We skip the baking, preferring bowls of soft, cheesy stovetop-polenta made as per the instructions of the package, plus a little extra Parmesan and butter. I like to make a simple marinara from tomato paste for our bowls. So easy, so good, so damn cheap. Just dice some garlic and onions, cook in olive oil, add a 6 oz. can of tomato paste, Italian spices, 1 and 1/2 cups water, and a pinch of sugar. Then simmer. I sometimes throw in white beans, mushrooms, peppers, or whatever else for substance and nutrients.

Want to make a quick meal, and have no time for marinara? Just throw some grape tomatoes in when you add the polenta to the boiling water. They'll burst, and you can just serve it all up with some pesto. Or add a pat of butter and wilted greens.

Food Allergies and Ethics
All gluten free. Sausage soup - not vegetarian. But you got that, right? None of this is vegan. Sorry about that, but the theme of this winter was "it snowed and I ate cheese."