Sunday, August 28, 2011

EZ Parmesagna Lasagna and GTGB

Acronyms Aplenty. Fresh Produce Galore. Hummina-hummina-hummus!

I love summer. And also every other season. But summer is a time when I can watch a dry lightning storm while roasting local potatoes, steaming exquisite fresh green beans, and dip them all into a home-mix hummus. I have only ever made one bad hummus, and by bad, I mean, it is only about as good as what you find in a store. This poor hummus was an experiment I tried: honey and three kinds of ground pepper. Honey and chickpeas are not a clever mix. Probably why no one has ever tried it, and lived to tell the tale. Hummus is something you should try though. Its hard to fail at, and it takes a mere five minutes to make if you use canned chickpeas. Don't even drain them. Just dump the whole can in. Add a little olive oil, some lemon juice, and either some toasted sesame seeds or some tahini, which is sesame seed oil. The variations are plentiful. I like mixing in some black beans- you could also use pinto- and sometimes, tomato bisque. You can also do the juice from a whole lemon for a very fresh variation. Try bell pepper and olive. Try arugala (I have no idea how to spell that but it goes good in pesto too) and sundried tomatoes. Garlic and pistachio. Try anything, and then let me know about it! Hummus is healthy, delicious, and goes with everything- toast, crackers, raw veggies, cooked veggies, use it to dip a gyro. And people at parties will think you are a genius. And all for much less work than home-made mayonnaise, which if you serve at a party, will make people think you are a deranged hippie- believe me, I know. And here in Utah, we only have dry storms lately: lots of flash, no rain to cool things off. I've never felt so hot as I have this past week. At least in Arizona there are pools everwhere. You drive to work, you jump in the office pool, you do a little work, you go home. Not so bad. Here, its almost as hot, but people try to pretend it is not- me chief among them.

So GTGB: sounds like some bad TV channel, but really stands for green tea green beans. I tried this on a whim as I was snapping green beans and tossing them in the collander and waiting for my green tea to cool on a hot day while swallowing whole jalapeno peppers (don't ask: well okay, I heard you silently ask: I had to detox my blood due to a minor infection and fever relating in some degree possibly with something stupid I might have done involving, perhaps- not saying for sure- hundreds of cuts I got while bushwacking down through a steep narrow canyon full of wet cliffs, loose rock, dangerous slopes, spider webs, an overgrown creek, stinging nettles, waterfalls, hollow melting snow and ice bridges, and overhanging cliffs that were unclimbable- unless you are a genius at getting yourself out of trouble you yourself created on the level of brilliant torreadors- and which I circumvented by climbing down a dead pine tree that was lodged upside down between some big rocks and which came apart in my hands and I wound up surfing down and landing in a two foot pile of dry needles which I found everywhere for a week- possibly, all because I thought the trail looked pretty indirect and would bi-sect this canyon anyway and it would make an interesting and exciting shortcut even though I nearly got my friend (who is not a genius at getting himself out of trouble he shouldn't be in in the first place) killed making this exact same kind of decision two weeks previously while looking down into the exact same kind of scenic-seeming waterfall-cut canyon- who can say?). I really think you will like them, it creates a mystique no one will put their finger on. A subtle smokey, background complimentary flavor. I think it would work for any kind of vegetable, and any kind of tea. Just steam a half and half mix of water and tea, and keep an eye on it, because sister, you don't want to see what the pan will look like if you forget about it and let it go on steaming dry. Trust me.

Another way to seem like a genius is to try EZ Pamesagna Lasagna, which stands for Eggplant Zucchini Parmesagna Lasagna, an acronym I adore, as it is completely misleading. Eggplant Parmesagna is notoriously one of the hardest things to cook- or at least, time consuming. Anyone with several hours can do it well. There are just many steps. So because I like to make myself extra crabby while rushing to get to a party on time, I decided to complicate things needlessly, by making a hybrid with a lasagna, and also putting in zucchini, the greatest breaded food there is. Here are the steps if you want to attempt this beast: (2 people could whip it off pretty easily with division of labor)

1. chop up a lot of things: one zucchini and one eggplant into discs (leave the skin on), one roma tomato diced, tear by hand 4-5 basil leaves or crumple some dried basil leaves (basil can be easily dried at home: simply buy or pluck some basil leaves, put them on a paper towel, and walk away. Bag them up one to two days later, and also, you may have to flip them once. That's it.), dice a handful of olives, and maybe one quarter of a red bell pepper. Shred some mozzerella and parmesan cheese: 6 oz of each should do nicely. Set aside.

2. Pull out a glass casserole. Lay down a decent layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of lasagna noodles (no bakes are a good choice for this dish). A little more sauce on top.

3. Dip each zucchini and eggplant disc into egg and then Italian-seasoned bread crumbs. Now comes a choice: either fry in oil or lay down unfried in a nice layer in your casserole. Up to you. Fried zucchini is spectacular and will give you a spectacular lasagna. But your lasagna will be very good skipping that extra work. Do you want to be spectacular and very tired or very good and a little tired?

4. Atop your layer of vegetable discs, put a mix of your shredded cheese: 3 oz of each.

5. Repeat and make a double decker lasagna, only this time, in your tomato sauce layer, add your roma tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, and basil.

6. Bake. 400 degrees and for 30 minutes.

Now that is a vegetarian dish anyone will feel full on. And its one of the only ways to get almost anybody to eat eggplant. Dice any leftover eggplant and zucchini you have left and throw it in your next marinara sauce. Or hummus.

No comments: