When I was in college, certain criteria were of the utmost importance in choosing a roommate. It didn’t bother me in the slightest if someone smoked, caroused, borrowed my lipstick, or left dirty clothes on the floor (perhaps because I was guilty of such breaches myself). What was important was food. Did prospective roommate leave dirty dishes in the sink? Use the last of the olive oil without replacing it? Most important, what skills and equipment was prospective roommate bringing to the table? Candy thermometer? Ability to make a good, dark roux? Peel a pound of shrimp in less than five minutes?
I met Holly one summer–a torrential downpour caught us as we were leaving English class, and she offered me a ride. I learned she was looking for a new place to live, my apartment on Chimes street had an empty bedroom, and, then, I discovered her family was Italian.
How lucky could I get? Holly’s parents lived in Baton Rouge, and when we were hungover, hungry, or needed to do laundry, we could just drive across town to her parents’ house . . . around dinner time. Holly’s mother was an amazing cook, regularly turning out all kinds of authentic Italian-American fare like lasagna with giant meatballs on the side, shrimp scampi, smothered cucuzza squash, and this rustic supper dish, which never failed to send me into a swoon of nostalgia for the Italian grandmother I never had. Really–borrow my lipstick anytime.
Braised Greens with Tomato & Farm Eggs
1 onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
2 large handfuls greens (spinach, mustard, collard, etc)
4 farm eggs
grated parmesan cheese
grilled foccacia or ciabatta
In a skillet with high sides, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Crush tomatoes with your hands or pass through a food mill and add to skillet. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer until sauce thickens slightly. Cut greens into ribbons and rinse in colander. Shake some of the water off, and add to tomato sauce. Cover partially and cook until greens are tender. Removed lid, and make 4 wells, or indentions, in the sauce. Carefully crack one egg into each well, sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook until eggs are just set. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with grilled bread.