What’s for dinner

I missed my customarybachelor chowpost the last few days. Normally when Lisa is out I end up cooking stuff that she would never eat if she were there; this time was no exception, although she was only out two days.

Last weekend as we cooked with Charlie and Carie we grilled vegetables, including fennel, and I was reminded of how little I do with vegetables these days. I resolved to address that. So Monday I spent working on my first ever ratatouille.

I learned to eat this stuff in Norfolk in a little pub whose name I’ve forgotten; the beer was always varied and good (I had my first Harpoon IPA there) and the cuisine was mid-90s American bistro. I think ratatouille was the side dish for every other entrée, and I loved the stuff: the eggplant’s slight bitterness countered by the sharp edge of the tomato, the overall mouth feel full without being heavy; perfect vegetarian comfort food, in fact.

My version was pretty good, and tasted good cold (a mark that I had the recipe pretty close). I had bought ingredients without looking at a recipe, so ended up with a yellow squash instead of the customary bell peppers, and with no basil. I had the right mouthfeel, though, and by swapping these ingredients around I think I could arrive at a pretty good recipe—and a surprisingly easy one. I ate the ratatouille with a ribeye that I coated with coarse-ground black pepper and seared in a cast iron skillet until just past rare.

Yesterday was a working day, so I couldn’t linger as long in the kitchen. I opted for a single ingredient dinner of broccoli rapini with garlic and cheese. I trimmed the tough stems from the rapini, blanched it in salted water, drained it, dunked it in cold water to stop it from cooking, and drained it again. Then I sliced garlic thin and cooked it in olive oil over moderately high heat, stirred the drained rapini in, and tossed it until it was heated through. I grated fresh pecorino over the rapini and ate it with a bratwurst that, to save time, I had just boiled. Good, simple, and Atkins-friendly.