I need a crash course in natural disaster survival skills.
The earthquake a few days ago? That was a close call.
By which I mean, I thought the girl sitting behind me in lab had moved her brand new super huge Mac desktop, which would obviously cause the entire lab (and the building across the street) to shake. (Neurons – WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE???)
You see what I mean? How can I survive a natural disaster if I’m not even aware that it’s happening?!?!?
I currently have approximately 48 hours until Hurricane Irene hits.
And if you think I’m battening down the hatches or holding down the fort or taking any number of hurricane prep measures/learning from my mistakes.
You’d be wrong.
I haven’t bought a single ounce of bottled water. Not one canned good.
And last night I was up until ungodly hours baking a tart. I need something to stress eat while the world falls down around me. Ob.Vi.Ous.Ly.
I have, however, made exactly one good life decision in the past few days and that was to choose this recipe for spelt berries with roasted pepper sauce to celebrate Lidia Bastianich, who is next on Gourmet’s list of 50 Women Game-Changers.
While it’s addictive qualities can certainly be, at least in part, attributed to the vibrant flavors of fresh summer tomatoes and sweet savory roasted bell peppers, it’s also just one of those dishes that revels in it’s own simplicity, taking the most basic of Italian ingredients and turning them into a dish that you’ll want to eat all day every day all the time.
Proving (as if Eataly and her Italian restaurant empire weren’t evidence enough) that Lidia is quite the force to be reckoned with. The kind of person who you want to have in your kitchen in such dire times as these.
Survival instincts – I’ve totally got ’em.
For more Lidia Bastianich today, check out these blogs:
Val – More Than Burnt Toast
Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan – The Spice Garden
Claudia – A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather – girlichef
Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette – Healthy Living
April – Abby Sweets
Katie – Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary – One Perfect Bite
Kathleen –Bake Away with Me
Viola – The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue – The View from Great Island
Barbara – Movable Feasts
Kathleen – Gonna Want Seconds
Amy – Beloved Green
Spelt Berries with Roasted Pepper Sauce
Serves 4 as a main dish, adapted from Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy
- 2 bell peppers (I used purple bell peppers that I got from my CSA)
- 4 cubanelle peppers
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 lb summer tomatoes OR 35-oz San Marzano plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 lb spinach
- 1/2 lb spelt berries, wheat berries, farro, or barley (soak spelt or wheat berries the night before)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano
- 2 tbsp parsley or basil
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray the peppers with cooking spray or rub with oil. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, turning the peppers occasionally, until their skins are wrinkled and slightly charred. Place the peppers in a paper bag or plastic container immediately upon removing them from the oven and close tightly. Let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, cook the spelt berries. Put in a heavy saucepan with 6 cups cold water, a bay leaf, and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then set the cover ajar and adjust the heat to maintain a steady, gentle simmer. Cook for an hour or until spelt is cooked through but still al dente. Turn off the heat, pour off any liquid not absorbed by the grain and keep covered.
- While the spelt cooks, prepare the sauce. Peel the charred skin off the cooled peppers. Slice them in half lengthwise, discard the stem and scrape out the seeds. Cut the peppers into 2-inch squares and let the pieces drain and dry in a sieve.
- Pour 2 tbsp olive oil into a big skillet. Set over medium heat. Scatter in the sliced onion, bay leaves, garlic clove and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
- Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes if using fresh and stir them into the pan. Season with 2 tsp salt. Bring sauce to an active simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until wilted.
- Toss the raisins into the simmering sauce. Stir in the spelt . Season with another tsp of salt, or more to taste. Gently stir in the cut pepper pieces. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the spelt is hot again. Turn off the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese, and top with basil. Serve hot or at room temperature.