Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cooking for Change

The Democrats called. They were hungry, so I made them some lasagne.

The other night I was sitting around with the family, about to have dinner, watching the news and lamenting the state of the world. Then Obama called. Well, not Obama himself, but his people here in Denver. They asked how we were feeling about Obama (we're in love! we said) and asked if we might like to get involved in the campaign. We said yes!

They need canvassers, people to make phone calls, places to live, and most importantly, they need to eat. We signed up as a family to make some phone calls before the vice presidential debate and I volunteered to make dinner for everyone in the campaign office. Cooking for change? Si se puede!

Now, of course, I couldn't just go out and buy any old dinner for these people. I wanted to make something because I love cooking, I had a full day to do it, and I knew they would appreciate a home cooked meal. Figuring there would be at least a few vegetarians in the bunch (these are Democrats, after all) I decided on Deborah Madison's Chard and Eggplant Lasagne.

The recipe doubled fairly well, although one pan ended up with one less layer than the other. There was a fair amount of prep work involved but it was easy stuff. On another day I probably would have made some quick homemade tomato sauce, but I used a jar of store bought sauce here.

All in all it was a fun and satisfying way to get involved in the campaign. I'm cooking lunch again next week and then the week after that. Hopefully all my hard work in the kitchen will put Obama in the White House.

Below is the original, undoubled version of the recipe.

Lasagne with Eggplant and Chard from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

1 box dried lasagna noodles
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch chard, stems removed
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup ricotta
1 egg
3/4 cup grated pecorino Romano (I used Parmesan)
8 oz mozzarella, shredded

Salt eggplant slices and land stand 30 minutes to draw out moisture, then blot dry.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of eggplant with olive oil. Bake slices on a sheet pan for 30 minutes, turning once, until browned on both sides. Chop and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil and butter in large skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chard, sprinkle with salt, and cook until wilted. Add wine, cover, and cook until chard is tender and pan is dry, about 10 minutes (mine took longer). Remove from heat and chop mixture finely. In a bowl mix together the ricotta, 1/2 cup water, and egg, then stir in the chard. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Grease a 9x12 baking dish. Spread 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom and over with a layer of pasta. Spread a quarter of the cheeses, a quarter of the eggplant mixture, and a quarter of the ricotta mixture. Repeat until ingredients are used up.

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until heated through. Remove foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more.

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