Ah, the dreaded (by Chris)/beloved (by Kate) Gruel a la Nuts. I've been making it a lot lately because it's easy and because I'm obsessed with nuts. (The kind that grow on trees [bushes?], you pervs.) Gruel a la Nuts is just a handful of walnuts, chopped, with a glug of olive oil, perhaps some minced garlic, and S&P. Take this and serve it over whole wheat spaghettini (which I swear to you tastes BETTER than white pasta) with some grated parm, and you have Gruel a la Nuts in its most simple incarnation. You also have your husband on the phone ordering a pizza.
I often like to fancy this gruel up a bit (is "fancy gruel" an oxymoron?): Maybe I saute the garlic in a little olive oil and mix that with the walnuts, and I almost always add something green, because really, gruel should always include something green (one time I made a broccoli pasta dish from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers and Chris's comment was "so bland and yet so green"): garlicky wilted arugula is my favorite, though sauteed broccoli, spinach, or chard are also delicious. Chris would probably add french fries, but they are not green. And do not let him tell you otherwise: Not even a tiny bite of Gruel a la Nuts has ever passed Chris's lips. When I made Gruel a la Nuts on Sunday night, Chris made himself Stuffed Shells Frozenee With Sauce a la Jar.
Chris took a couple of pictures of Gruel a la Nuts, though what Martha Stewart would most like about this photo is the great care we take in setting our table. I carefully lay out a pile of mail, there is a bag of chips in case Chris needs an extra snack, and please note the DOG TOY just inches from my plate. We are classy people.
Chris also wanted you to see what a mess I make when I cook.
Fancy Gruel a la Nuts
1 cup walnuts, chopped medium-coarse
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch (a couple of handfuls) of baby arugula
parmigiano reggiano cheese to taste
salt & pepper to taste
1. Chop walnuts and set aside in a little bowl.
2. In a small pan saute 1/3 of the garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until is just translucent (don't let it turn brown), then remove from heat, add to bowl of walnuts, and stir. Season walnut mixture with salt and pepper to taste, add more oil if you like things oily.
3. In a medium or large pan saute the rest of the garlic in a little olive oil over high heat until just translucent, then add arugula and a pinch or two of salt and saute until just wilted. Remove immediately from pan so the greens don't become soggy.
4. Spoon half of the walnut mixture and half of the arugula over your own portion of whole wheat spaghettini (cook it first, yo, in very salty water). If your husband/domestic partner/wife/mom/child/sex slave chained to a filing cabinet in the basement/boyfriend/girlfriend/whomever will eat gruel, give them the other half, and serve it with freshly grated parm. If not, save the second half, because all gruel makes good leftovers.