Ah. Valentine’s Day. A day (ideally) filled with hearts, love, and chocolate. Well guys, at the CoOp, V-Day is filled with spaghetti sauce, breadsticks, and eggplants.
You see, one of the girls who live in the CoOp is OBSESSED with all things Disney. And a few days before this meal, she found out that she got into the Disney College program, which is absolutely amazing news because it’s both competitive and an incredible opportunity. So the CoOp Valentine’s Day dinner was Lady and the Tramp themed, which is kind of Valentine’s Day-ish… Right?
Meat Sauce and Regular Tomato Sauce
Bone-shaped Garlic Sticks
So this is how this lovely dinner went down. We started off by (what else?) chopping onions.
Yeah. We rocked it.
Dave, the master of all things saucey and improvised, was in charge of both sauces, starting with caramelized onions, canned tomatoes, and spices.
(According to Dave, a tablespoon of brown sugar will make any sauce taste better… It’s the secret to good sauce!). Dave never follows a recipe and throws whatever he feels like into a pot, but it ALWAYS turns out delicious.
This night was special because we tried out 2 pounds of grass-fed ground beef. A visiting dance professor at Hamilton actually provided it; he raises cows and sheep for meat only a half hour from campus, and he offered some of his meat for us to try before we actually start buying from him.
So we sauteed that with salt, pepper, and a little ground coffee (another secret!) and threw it into half of the spaghetti sauce (the other half was kept vegetarian).
While he was working on that, Pat and I set up an assembly line of eggplant breading.
I striped the eggplant,
then sliced them,
and then made an egg wash
and Italian breadcrumbs by taking regular breadcrumbs and throwing in parsley, garlic powder, pepper, and oregano.
We dipped the eggplants in the egg (haha), coated them in breadcrumbs, and parbaked them off for 5 minutes.
The bready eggplants were then layered with tomato sauce and cheddar cheese. It’s a little unusual, I know. But we were trying to shop as little as possible this past week in order to save money, so instead of buying mozzarella, we threw in some grated cheddar that we had bought in bulk.
It didn’t take too long to get the eggplant parms assembled, so once those were put together, I worked on the breadsticks.
The recipe called for flour, butter, herbs, salt, and olive oil, which were kneaded with yeast activated in warm water.
This is what yeast looks like when it’s alive and well, ready to do it’s leavening work.
After I kneaded the dough, it rose for one hour, and then I rolled it out and tied them into bone shapes (to go along with the Lady and the Tramp, you know?), and brushed them with olive oil mixed with herbs and Parmesan.
Coordinating the oven between the eggplant and the breadsticks was a little tricky… But we made it work, ending up with beautifully browned, cheesy casserole, and garlicky breadsticks.
Aww.. they’re so cute!
Once I cooked the spaghetti (which I tossed in olive oil to prevent stickage) and made the salad, we were good to go.
It’s the quintessential Italian-American meal. Except made cuter with the addition of the bone sticks.
Romantic? Maybe. Delicious? Indisputably so.
Valentine’s Day at the CoOp. We keep it real.