I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Tag: Recipes

Escarole and Beans

Invite People In To Your Food Weirdness

People with disordered eating patterns, like me, are prone to eating alone, secretly.  Eating alone makes me feel sneaky, a guilty pleasure.  I can eat as weirdly as I want.  When I was at the height of my eating weirdness I would eat an entire large honeydew melon in one sitting.  It was sweet and filled me up but had almost no calories.  And it was huge!  So it took a long time.  I liked stringing out my meals.  It was a way to avoid feeling empty.

I still look forward to meals alone when I can eat my weird meals:  secretly, silently, selfishly.  However, it has recently occurred to me that my weird meals are not so weird and that maybe it would be nice to share my weird meals with other people and not worry that they think I am weird.  One of my favorite dinners when someone in my family is out and I don’t have to make a more formal family meal  is a large plate of escarole and beans.  It satisfies my desire for a large quantity of food.  It is tasty and healthy and very satisfying.  No one else in my family is interested in eating this dish with me.  My family is used to my odd food choices, but other people are not.  Now when a child’s friend or a niece or sister-in-law want to stop by on “Escarole and Bean Night,” instead of coming up with an excuse about why they can’t come over I invite them in.  They don’t necessarily share my meal – but I share with them some of my eating issues.  I can laugh at myself and share more of myself, which deepens my relationships.  On a recent night, instead of setting up my son and his friend at a separate table with their pizza, the three of us ate together.  Them with their pizza and me with my escarole and beans.  And we talked about God.  And what we hope and believe about God.  (I believe that holiness is the love between people.)  Amazing things happen when you invite people in.   

Escarole and Beans

1 large bunch of escarole (1 lb or more), leaves washed and spun dry

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

3-4 T olive oil

1 jar of cannellini beans, imported from Italy preferred, approximately 12 oz

Sautee garlic and escarole in olive oil.  Take your time with this process.  The more you sautee the escarole the richer the flavor.  I do it on low heat and let it cook for about 30 minutes, while I do other things in the kitchen.

Add beans and their liquid.  Sautee the beans with the escarole for another 10-15 minutes.

The desired consistency, for me, is not too much liquid.  This is different than the more traditional Italian version which is much soupier.  The escarole exudes water.  You want to cook off the liquid and almost brown the escarole and beans in the olive oil. 

Experiment with cooking times, temperatures, and escarole:bean ratio!

 Serves:

1 very large serving, or

2-4 normal servings, with bread to soak it all up

Chopping Meditation

I Love/Hate to Cook

I enjoyed cooking this weekend.  For the first time in a long time.  As a teen, when my disordered eating was at its zenith, I was obsessed with food and cooking and not eating.  I devoured Gourmet magazine and spent hours in the kitchen teaching myself to cook and concocting elaborate meals, which I did not enjoy eating.  In my 20’s, cooking became more social – a way to entertain with friends.  In my 30’s, part of my courtship with my husband was to cook together and try new recipes.  Truly fun.  And then the kids came.  I practiced survival cooking:  What can I cook when I get home from work that a majority of people in the family will eat that will not take too much time?  That was my criteria.  As a family, we have developed quite a repertoire of recipes, but it can get repetitive.  A luncheon visit from my cousin’s daughter prompted K to suggest Cold Sesame Noodles and inspired me to tackle it.

First, I remembered I’s delicious rendition and looked at about 10 recipes on Epicurious to try to find it.  None of them were exactly as I remembered from her version and none were exactly what I was envisioning.  So, using 2-3 recipes as a general guideline, and my memory of I’s version, I developed my own. 

I started chopping the vegetables first thing Saturday morning.  This took me 30 minutes.  I do not have particularly good knife skills, as T points out regularly.  As I was cursing the tediousness, I decided to stop, take a breath, and change my thought pattern.  This is going to be delicious.  Carefully chopping the vegetables that I have chosen to be in this dish is part of what is going to make it delicious.  I had nothing else I had to do for 30 minutes, so I decided to just enjoy the chopping.  Chopping Meditation. 

Then I put together the dressing in a loose way.  Oh, it’s too thin, add peanut butter.   I forgot ginger – better add ginger!  I mixed the vegetables and the dressing together and then went to assist C in teaching her yoga class. 

When I got home, K had arrived and the socializing had begun.  Everything was ready except for the pasta, so I boiled the noodles and mixed it all together.  I had decided not to agonize over the pros and cons of regular noodles vs healthier whole wheat noodles.  Regular it was.  The texture really is better, sigh.  Everyone ooh’ed and ah’ed, which admittedly is a big reason why cooking is enjoyable.  All in all, it was delicious and beautiful and healthy (in spite of non-whole wheat noodles) and is getting added as a permanent addition to our family food repertoire.

Room Temperature Sesame Noodles

Begin preparation several hours before you want to serve

30 minutes of meditative chopping

30 minutes of other stuff:  boiling water, cooking noodles, setting table, putting it all together

Ingredients

The Stuff

2-3 carrots

1 red bell pepper

1 cucumber

6 oz sugar snap peas

1 or 2 cooked chicken breasts (great way to use leftovers), about ½ lb

½ cup peanuts

½ cup cilantro

The Dressing

½ cup rice vinegar

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup peanut butter (smooth, nothing fancy)

1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped fine

Salt to taste

1 lb pasta, cooked to taste, 11-13 minutes usually

(I used Barilla Thick Spaghetti.  Soba noodles or whole wheat noodles would add more fiber.  And, frankly, this is a good recipe for using whole wheat pasta because it is so flavorful!)

Process

  • Chop all the stuff ingredients into same size pieces – matchstick shape and size
  • Stir all the dressing ingredients together until the peanut butter dissolves and emulsifies
  • Taste the dressing and decide if you like it or if it needs more salt
  • Mix the stuff and the dressing together
  • Leave it on the kitchen counter and go away for at least 3 hours
  • Cook pasta
  • Stir in the pasta

Serves

4-6   dinner portions

6-8 lunch portions

Good as a leftover for a take-to-work-lunch

P.S. Don’t eat them cold.  The coldness dulls the flavor.  Room temperature is best.

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