So, here’s the situation. Our wireless, which we are borrowing from our new home’s previous owners (they were going to be charged a cancellation fee if we switched services before the end of June), has been out since a round of thunderstorms came through Monday night. While we wait for it to be fixed, we are not totally cut off from our virtual life; we can sit on a toilet in the bathroom at the very back of our house, and catch the interwaves of our next-door neighbor (who has graciously given us their password). I’m trying to keep this inconvenience in perspective, focusing on thankfulness that 1) our neighbors are sharing, and 2) the limited online access is forcing me to focus on the task at hand: unpacking. But I won’t lie to you: I’m ready to again surf freely in my domain. Sitting on something other than a potty would be a bonus.
Our front porch is currently laden, 2-feet deep, in broken-down boxes that we’ve emptied. You can’t even get to the door. Instead of putting the corrugated goods out on the street, Tim put them on craigslist, hoping to give an upcoming mover the gift of free, high-quality boxes (we took them off the hands of a family that had been professionally moved to Athens right as we were leaving — it was a GOLDMINE). As I sit on a toilet (not multi-tasking, for your peace of mind), writing and occasionally peaking at the person now freeing us from the mountain of recycling blocking our door, I thought it might be a good time to recycle a post, as well.
This post was originally written in May of 2008, so it’s seasonally appropriate. It was in my series of Recession Meals — and although the recession is officially over, it’s always nice to eat as cheaply as possible at least a couple times a week. We’ll be making this tonight*, using local arugula (I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever tire of the green). And looking forward to a time when the utterance, “I’m going in the bathroom to get online” is no longer necessary, or even appropriate.
Recession Meal #3: Pasta with Lentils and Arugula
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that two of my three recession meals are built around lentils. They are so cheap (even the organic ones), and so full of good protein, it’s hard to resist their charms. I found this dish on the Everyday Food website (disclaimer: I find some of the recipes on the website, and magazine, to be a bit boring — but for cooking during the week, they have a knack for putting together recipes that are relatively healthy and quick to prepare, making them a good source for weekly menus), and we think it’s a keeper. First, it uses arugula, which I’ve now established as one of my favorite greens. And plum tomatoes, which are becoming more flavorful and juicy this time of year. If you or your significant other is a die-hard meat-eater, and won’t do with a vegetarian dinner, I think this dish would work very nicely with Italian sausage replacing the lentils (of course that would make it more expensive, and take it out of the recession meal category).
The most expensive element is the arugula — but please try not to replace it. You should be able to get a 5-oz box or bag of washed, trimmed baby arugula for around $4 — and that provides more than enough for the dish, leaving you some extra salad greens for the rest of the week. The leftovers on this were still tasty; since the pasta isn’t sitting in a liquid sauce, it doesn’t swell or get mushy in the refrigerator. We had lunch the next day, and then some.
Pasta with Lentils and Arugula (slightly-different, printable version at this link from Everyday Food)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 12 ounces plum tomatoes, cored and diced (about 2 cups)
- ¾ cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 12 ounces orecchiette or farfalle pasta
- 1 bunch (8 ounces) arugula, stemmed and coarsely chopped (or about half a 5-oz box of washed, trimmed baby arugula)
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt; cover, and cook until onions wilt, about 20 minutes. Uncover; raise heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until onions are dark brown, 20 to 25 minutes more.
Add ¼ cup water; stir to loosen any browned bits from pan. Stir in tomatoes; remove from heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover lentils with water by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender but still holding their shape, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain; stir into onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot.
Add lentil mixture, arugula, cheese, and reserved pasta water; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with more cheese, if desired.
* Note: After making this again, the night of this post, for the first time in two years, I remembered that it needs something. Bacon, maybe? I don’t know — but it’s a fairly one-dimensional dish. FYI.