The arrival of a child in our lives has not been good for culinary inspiration. A general state of parental exhaustion has caused us to turn to take-out menus more often than cookbooks to put dinner on the table. But, a change may be afoot.
Until recently, Anya has subsided mostly only breast milk, along with the gradual introduction of baby food. But, for the past couple of months she's started to eat "table food" (in other words, the same stuff that you and I eat, only in tinier pieces), and now that she's actually eating with us, there's a whole new reason to cook.
This is a roundabout way of introducing Suzanne Dunaway's recipe for Straccetti con la Rughetta ("Tattered" Strips of Beef with Arugula), which can be found in her Rome at Home. The dish of thin strips of beef tossed with arugula -- a sort of Roman stir fry -- became part of a repertoire of easy recipes for those rare times over the course of the past year when I have cooked at home. Not only is it tasty, but, for speed and simplicity, it can best the Rachael Ray oeuvre.
Dunaway suggests alternative variations, including replacing the arugula with slivers of artichokes (Carciofi alla Romana) or thin strips of zucchini sauteed until crisp.
Kitchen Notes: To make a slightly more substantial meal, serve it with a piece of bruschetta. Toast or grill a slice of crusty bread, rub it with raw garlic, sprinkle with sea salt, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Place the bruschetta on the plate and top with the straccetti to soak up some of the juices.
Straccetti con la Rughetta ("Tattered" Strips of Beef with Arugula)
by Suzanne Dunaway
from Rome at Home (Broadway Books)
1 1/2 pounds lean sirloin, cut into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch by 2-inch long strips
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or 4 tablespoons butter
1 large bunch arugula leaves, chopped if large, left whole if small
Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Heaqt the oil or butter in a large skilley, add the meat, and brown quickly on all sides over high heat, about 5 minutes. Add the arugula to the skillet, turn off the heat, toss with the straccetti and serve immediately.
Recipe reprinted with permission from the publisher.