I'm due in about two weeks and my head is spinning. In between tying up loose ends with work and making the apartment baby-ready, I consider all the things I won’t be able to do for a while, wondering if I should be doing them—movies, flea market, making elaborate dinners. Or instead, should I be getting my fill of lazy mornings and long naps?
Adding to my discombobulation and general difficulty prioritizing, I laugh and cry at the drop of a hat now. Bouncing back and forth between euphoria and anxiety is not, as it turns out, particularly conducive to efficiency. I’ve pretty much given up hope on crossing off one item from the absurd to-do list: stocking our freezer with homemade dinners to see us through the first few weeks postpartum. It’s hot, I’m giant and tired, and have a million other things to do—cooking up a storm just isn’t going to happen now. But if I did have it in me, I’d make Deborah Madison’s lasagna with eggplant and chard, my favorite of all her recipes.
The rare chance I do muster the energy and time, I’d love to hear what you would cook to freeze if you were a very pregnant me. I’m always looking for new ideas. In the meantime, here is Madison's eggplant and chard—if I ever get around to it—and a couple other ideas from favorite blogs.
The Wednesday Chef started a very interesting conversation last month about what to cook for new parents. And last year, I loved reading about the meal delivery service that Angry Chicken’s friends set up for her when she had her third child, in lieu of a baby shower. It’s hard for me to imagine New Yorkers showing up at each others’ doors with hot dishes—isn’t that what takeout is for?—but it’s a charming idea for those who live in cities where ovens are used for baking, not storage.
About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.
- Yield:6 to 8
- 1 box lasagna noodles
- 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the eggplant
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 bunch green chard, about 1 1/2 pounds, stems removed
- Salt and freshly milled pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I usually substitute water unless I happen to have a bottle of wine or vermouth open)
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1 cup tomato sauce (your favorite; make sure it is well seasoned)
- 3/4 cup grated pecorino romano
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Boil the lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Unless it is garden fresh, salt the eggplant, let stand 30 minutes, then blot dry.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices lightly with oil. Place the slices on a sheet pan and bake, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 30 minutes in all. Chop coarsely. Do not turn off oven.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil and the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chard, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, cover, and cook until the chard is tender and the pan is dry, about 10 minutes. Turn the mixture out onto a cutting board and chop finely. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1/3 cup water, and the egg, then stir in the chard. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread 1/3 cup tomato sauce over the bottom and cover with a layer of pasta. Scatter a quarter of the grated cheese over the top and add a quarter of the eggplant, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Follow with another layer of pasta and repeat for three more layers. End with a layer of pasta and the remaining sauce. Cover with foil, tenting it above the surface.
Bake in the 400°F oven 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove the foil and bake 5 to 10 minutes more.