March 26, 2008

My Rocky Relationship with Rachel Ray

I've never been a huge Rachel Ray fan, but I still like to keep an open mind about things, so I vowed this month to try as many 30-Minute Meals as possible. To start off, 30 minutes is a crock. My average meal meal prep time has been closer to the 90 minute range. (Rachel should try making a meal in half an hour with a dog & toddler underfoot - both looking for scraps - and The Office streaming on her computer. Now, that's real time!) I've only liked about 1/2 the recipes so far. My odds are much better with recipes from friends & fam and Epicurious, my most frequented resources. I think I'll stick with my old standards for a while and start eating food that I enjoy!

Here are my favorite "30 min" recipes so far (yes, I do love pasta):

Cauliflower Sauce with Whole-Wheat Penne

1 lb whole wheat penne rigate
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, cracked from skin and sliced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 head cauliflower, stem removed and chopped
1 cup chicken stock
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
3/4 cup grated Romano, 3 generous handfuls
Salt and black pepper

Boil pasta. Drain and reserve 2 ladles of pasta water.

For sauce, heat a deep skillet over medium heat with extra-virgin olive oil. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes, then remove. Add onions and cook 5 minutes then add cauliflower, chicken stock and the rosemary. Cover the pan and cook 15 minutes. Uncover the sauce, add 1 to 2 ladles of pasta water and mash the cauliflower with the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the pasta and cheese to the cauliflower and toss to combine. Season the dish with S&P.

You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta

1 tbsp butter
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz fresh pasta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka1 cup chicken broth
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Crusty bread (as side)

Boil pasta. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add evoo, butter, garlic & shallots. Gently saute garlic and shallots, 3-5 minutes, to develop their sweetness. Add vodka and cook to reduce by half, 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble, then reduce heat to simmer. Season with S & P.

Stir cream into the vodka sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove from heat. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Serve with crusty bread.


buddens said...

Yum! I love pasta too, and particularly tried and true recipes. And I love cauliflower. Can't wait to try them!

Alifinale said...

I feel that same way. I have 2 Rachel Ray cookbooks given to me but have not made one recipe in them. If I catch her show (which I don't always like to do because she is annoying) I think something looks good and fairly simple but I never make it. Thanks for sharing some recipes that are worth trying. I need to venture out every once in a while.

volcom_LC said...

I had a RR kick for a little while, but her voice got to me. I still cook out of her cookbooks- I find that many of her recipes are super easy to change to my liking. Most are a smash hit in our house, although I do agree- I rarely get them done in 30 minutes!

Natalie C. said...

Ooh, those recipes sound good. Especially the cauliflower one. But Wow- those are pretty low odds for success with Rachel Ray recipes. It must depend on your book. I totally agree with the time discrepancies (once a "30 minute meal" of hers we got off the internet took us 3 hours with both Chris & I working on it!!), but I've loved almost everything I've tried. We have the book, Cooking 'Round the Clock. Actually, lately, I've been doing mostly meals from It's not always gourmet, but it's easy, and I like it for the day-to-day basis, because it includes so many whole foods & super foods.

Owens D.C. said...

I'm a Barefoot Contessa girl all the way, but that is lots of time and lots of calories :)

Marc said...

You forgot to mention your rocky encounter with Rachel's gnocchi... possibly the worst dish ever... and this coming from someone who typically likes gnocchi.