Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Art of Handfuls & Pinches

So many words are usually here on my blog. Yet for the most part, at my heart, I am a listener, a people watcher, a lover of meditation and observance. 

Others may think not, but for me it is the silenced quiets that I love most and personal contentment (for myself and loved ones), my passion.

One of those places where this meditative space opens an engaged watching in me, is in the simultaneously busy and peaceful space I call my Sattvic kitchen.

As with life, nothing I tend to do is by the book and cooking is no exception. I usually begin something new with several cook books open, all of which will eventually be set aside for impressions, smells, textures and tastes all my own.

I find that cooking with handfuls and pinches, marries art with form and creates something special each time a favorite dish is made.  What becomes reliable from my ovens and stove is a mouth-watering freshness nuanced in a way that feels both unique and nostalgic, each time made.  

When we let go of the tried and true recipe and approach preparing food from the perspective of handfuls and pinches, what happens is that the dish tastes better than ever before, each time, for a different reason.

Just as I love observing people, tonight, the moments spent in my kitchen, echoed a time where to grab a handful of ingredients from the garden to combine with what people had on hand in the cupboards, was how the family dinner was always made.  The everyday, going back for millennia, is now for the most part, a time gone by...

As I anticipate a move into a new home, my first in nearly 19-years, I look forward to many things: a back yard large enough to build a meditation labyrinth, and fort-house for auntie Syl's tow-heads on a visit and mostly a garden of my own, to grab a handful and a pinch at just the ripe time.

So as I watched tonight's dinner materialize from my meditation on a new space, I felt the energy of so many evenings past and so many yet to come and a much needed hope for continual healing.

Bel Paese Spinach Lasagna:
Bel Paese is Italian for 
Beautiful Land

I start with homemade marinara- 

15 cans of Muir Glenn Organic Tomato Sauce 
(tried them all and this is hands down superior)
3-5 Heirloom Tomatos
1 Large yellow chopped Onion
1 Drizzle Ghee
3 Drops Stevia
2 Handfulls of fresh Basil leaves
Fresh-ground Five-pepper blend
Fresh-groung Sea Salt
2 Handfulls grated aged Parmigiano-Reggiano
(grated just as you add to simmer)

I let it cool and keep in medium size twist cap containers in the freezer, for use as need arises (such as this evening).

In large mixing bowl combine:

       (Note: I love to do this section the night before and let the herbs and cheeses flavor each other)

32oz Container Ricotta Cheese
2 Organic Eggs

All Chopped:

1 handful of fresh Sweet Basil
1 handful of fresh Organic Italian Parsley
1 pinch fresh Opal Basil
1 pinch fresh Oregano

Stir in:

1 handful fine-grated, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 handfuls Bel Paese Italian Cheese
(Aaaa-mazing cheese--falls between fresh mozzarella and parmigiano-riggiano.  
This often hard to find, slightly soft cheese can be ordered from

In deep ceramic casserole dish, over 1 cup of marinara sauce, layer:

Layer-1 One Cup of your Marinara Sauce

Layer-2 DeBolles Jerusalem Artichoke Flower wide lasagna noodles

Layer-3 Ricotta Cheese mixture

Layer-4 Noodles

Layer 5 Small container Baby Spinach

Layer 6 Noodles

Layer 7 Marinara Sauce

Layer 8 One Handful Bel Paese Cheese & Mozzarella
(one-half handful of each)

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45-min to 1-hour.

(Bailey-dog patiently waits for first shot at it...which she will not get, poor girl...)

Serve with extra Marinara Sauce, warmed and poured over.
Break up a handful of Sweet Basil to sprinkle over serving.

"Bel Paese" 
Beautiful Land