A tale of two dinners

It was the best of summer dinners, it was the worst of summer dinners.

Actually, both dinners were delicious. One was just a poor choice for summer. Again.

Smart for summer:

summer of my Greek salad

I see a summer staple

I plan to make this at least every other week. Or every other day. Whichever.

It’s a pretty traditional Greek Salad, but I got the idea of tossing the pita chips in from Clean Eating. They recommended baking them first, but I was very anti-oven on a 95 degree day, and there were too many pieces to fit in the toaster oven, so I just ripped them up and threw them in.

This still took a pretty decent amount of prep time, what with all of the chopping. If you find chopping soothing, as I do, then it’s the summer salad for you. It’s also very colorful and makes for a nice presentation, so I’d call it a good choice for a summer potluck. I would have tossed a little paprika on it to make it even prettier, but some idiot put the paprika in a sealed plastic box with some incredibly pungent cloves during the Great Mouseproofing of ’08, so the paprika is paprika no more. And, yes, that idiot was me.

I love how many times I just got to type “paprika.” But I didn’t love having to buy a whole new container today at the store

Today was also about 95 degrees, but I was already cooking a giant pot of beans, so I threw caution to the wind and make this incredibly time-intensive and oven-requiring dinner.

Not-so-smart choice for summer:

polenta lasagna with roasted red pepper sauce and spinach

polenta lasagna with roasted red pepper sauce and spinach

I used the same roasted red pepper sauce I used a few weeks ago, Bittman’s Polenta I (basically boil 4 cups of water, slowly whisk in a cup of polenta, stir a lot until it’s your desired consistency, add cheese/butter as needed; and p.s. that guy really does know how to cook everything), ricotta, some Italian cheese blend, and some spinach that was washed, torn, and thrown in a hot pan with olive oil until it was just a little wilted.

mid-layering

mid-layering

There was altogether too much liquid in this meal, which meant that it never firmed up quite the way I wanted it to. I cooked it for almost an hour, and then let it sit for 10 minutes, but it was still on the soupy side. Cheesy polenta soup. Which is good with me, if not exactly what I wanted. Next time I’ll cook the polenta more or use that kind you can buy in the store and slice it up. And by next time, I mean, in the winter, when it will actually feel great to have the kitchen be 9,080 degrees.

polenta lasagna soup

polenta lasagna soup

Still, it was good, even if I had to eat it with a spoon. Kind of like the lasagna I used to get at the Ram’s Head Rathskellar in Chapel Hill, which was basically a bowl of cheese and some meat. It was second only to Hector’s cheeseburger on a pita during freshman year of college, when I apparently ate a lot of meat and cheese.

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