Monday, February 20, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Fifty-Three (On Being Prepared)

Sundays are my days to prepare the
meals for the week.

Regardless of what I have penciled in my calendar, the week inevitably takes twists and turns and morphs into something completely unrecognizable from that which appeared on my calendar.

Is it just me? Or, does this happen to everyone?

Sundays are kind of like my emergency preparedness day – my kitchen looks like we are anticipating an ice storm or nor' easter or worse, but really I am just preparing for another predictably unpredictable week, two very hungry kids after long days at school, and two very tired parents after grueling work days.

Usually Sunday’s pickings can be rationed through Wednesday, sometimes they last through Thursday.

By Friday, we start foraging for berries, insects, and roots – luckily Sunday is not too far around the corner.

Making these meals is an adventure because NY offers a complete tapestry of food choices.Above, I am shopping on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, the other "Little Italy" at Teitel's Italian Shop. I got some incredible cheeses and farro-emmer pasta (there are three types of farro - emmer, einkorn and spelt) there and cut a few deals on prices buying in bulk.

So on that particular Sunday, I made Chicken Parmesan, Farro Pie (which was essentially baked ziti, but I varied the recipe with fresh mozzarella and farro pasta), and Walnut Pepper Pies made with Spelt Right Pizza Dough. I just threw together the chicken parmesan so have no recipe to share, but the Farro Pie, and Walnut Pepper Pies are worth replicating. Here is the linked recipe for the Walnut Pepper Pies. And the recipe for the Baked Farro Pie.


One organic onion (finely chopped)

4-5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or minced with salt)

1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Pomi – crushed tomatoes – all natural, no citric acid – in a carton (no BPA in packaging)

One Pound Grass Fed Ground Beef (optional)

1-2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt

Ground pepper to taste

6-10 leaves of Fresh Basil (chopped finely). Can use dried basil

Two packages of FARRO pasta (from Zeitel's). I used ziti and spaghetti because I did not have enough ziti (if you do this, note the different cook times)

One small container of whole milk ricotta

One half to one pound of natural mozzarella (shredded or pulled apart)


Place chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in large stainless steel pan. Saute until onions are brown. Add ground beef. Saute until browned. Add Pomi tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Add one teaspoon of organic sugar if desired. Stir all ingredients. Cook on medium low for 20-25 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Add chopped basil.

In the meantime, boil and drain pasta according to instructions on panel. Rinse, and then toss with extra virgin olive oil to keep from sticking.

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a 9 inch glass baking dish, spread a little of the sauce on the bottom to keep the pasta from sticking. In the sauce pan, toss the pasta sauce and pasta. When thoroughly tossed, place the pasta in the baking dish. Spread ricotta on top. Then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until bubbling on top. Guaranteed to be a hit with the kids.

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