Day 39: Lessons learned

February 8, 2007


When cooking Pasta with Roasted Eggplant Sauce and Ricotta Salata tonight, we learned two things. First, never ask for cheese advice in Target, and second, never leave yourself only 30 minutes to cook a 30 minute meal. Earlier in the week I specifically went to the cheese counter in Target and asked if there was a difference between ricotta and ricotta salata. Absolutely not, I was assured, and directed to a tub of ricotta. Mysteriously tonight when it came to crumbling the cheese over the pasta, as called for in the recipe, the creamy tub of ricotta was a little hesitant. Like attempting to crumble yoghurt, this task was doomed to failure. So we decided that feta would have to be used instead.

We started cooking with 30 minutes to spare before our favourite TV program started. The recipe looked reasonably straightforward, roast eggplant/ aubergine in the oven with garlic, purée then mix with fried onions and tomatoes. Mix the purée with pasta, fresh basil and the aforementioned ricotta salata and you’re good to go. Somehow our timing was all over the place. This meant we cooked half of the meal, raced down to the other end of the condo to watch a few minutes of TV, ran back to the kitchen (obviously the TV and the kitchen are as far away from each other as is physically possible) to put the pasta on, raced back to catch more TV, waited for the commercials to start to run back to the kitchen… With both of us doing the mad dash backwards and forward it was like some really bad slapstick comedy sketch. Except without the humour. Our downstairs neighbours love us, I’m sure.

Anyway, our opinion of this meal may therefore be a little coloured by our experiences cooking it. By which I mean the eggplant was a little overcooked and the pasta a little on the soggy side. And the feta was, of course, a little saltier than the salata would have been, or so the internet tells me. Overall, on the plus side this was a vegetarian meal, which was good, and it was a great way to eat eggplant if you don’t like it. I’ll be interested to see how Baby A likes it tomorrow. She is a pasta fiend so this may be a great way to slip in some different vegetable action. It was tasty enough in a light, vegetarian sort of way. However, it wasn’t fabulous, just reasonable. Under different circumstances I’m sure it would have been a fairly laidback cooking experience which is always nice.

Tomorrow, we are tackling Mostly Green Curry Chicken over Coconut Jasmine Rice and the following night we make it again with tofu. It should be interesting to see how they turn out as the recipes appear to have neither curry paste nor curry powder in them. We’re having friends over on Saturday night for dinner. We normally like to serve something that we know is easy, stress-free, tasty and impressive. Our go-to recipes are benched for the year. Obviously if the meal we cook is good, we’ll take the credit, if not, we can always blame it on the cook book.

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  • Reply lia February 8, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    This is a great project! Just came across it from another blog. Have to say, however, that if you overcooked the eggplant, made soggy pasta (how?), and used the wrong cheese, then you can’t really evaluate the recipe. At the end of your project, you’ll have to recook it and then re-evaluate.

  • Reply Laura February 8, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Hello! What a neat idea….I love Rachel Ray! Such an amazing endeavour…I say that because I hate to cook and usually take the weekends off when hubbie takes over!

    Good luck with your project and thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Laura (orgjunkie)

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