Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taste - no need to be a Masterchef

I am far too cynical to enjoy most reality TV, but Masterchef holds a scintillating charm - you have to admire people that can take a zucchini and an anchovy and turn it into a 3-course gastronomical delight. The judges aren't ridiculously critical and watching people cook delicious concotions makes entertaining telly without the need to resort to stories about perverts with erections (yes I'm talkin' about you, All Saints**). My brother in law would've been a serious contender for MC but he lives in Canada - a few Christmases ago, he put together the tastiest lunch in our little Edinburgh flat (yeah, he gets around) which was no mean feat considering all we had in the cupboard was rice, tinned peaches and Strepsils. Anyway, whether you are into cooking or not, you've probably seen or visited Taste.com.au , an online recipe resource combining recipes from several good food publications (including my current economic-hardship/domestic goddess mag of choice, Super Food Ideas . It's less than $3 and just makes you want to buy a pretty apron and bake all weekend!).

So, thanks to my new arsenal of cookery instruction, the past few weeks have seen truckloads of gourmet dishes gracing our dinner table. Some, like the roasted lemon chicken (above)have been a massive hit; others, like tonight's Cous Cous Tabouli Salad, almost got me voted out. Actually the salad was tasty, I just mucked up the cous cous (yes it is possible!) and it ended up, erm, mushy. Ew.

When you're cooking for a fussy 28 year old and a 3 year old who's favourite foods are broccoli and peanut butter (not together, as far as I know), many of the recipes here are fantastic for finding healthy, fast, affordable meals that get vegies/protein/other healthy things into them and have little waste. The recipe below is another winner courtesy of Taste and you can make enough for leftovers the night after, which quite frankly is of high importance to most of us - as much as cooking and nutrition are important, who wants to do it at the end of every day?! Enjoy...!

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 x Basic roast chicken ingredients (see related recipe)
400g dried tortiglioni or rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
500g jar tomato pasta sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
100g baby spinach leaves


Follow steps 1 to 3 of Basic roast chicken recipe. Remove skin and meat from chicken. Discard skin and bones. Roughly chop flesh.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until just tender. Drain. Return to saucepan.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until tender. Add onion mixture, pasta sauce, chicken, 3/4 cup cheese and spinach to hot pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently until well combined.

Spoon pasta mixture into a 7cm deep, 24cm x 19cm (base) baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and heated through. Serve.
**Not to put you off your dinner or anything, but apparently the guy in All Saints with his willy stuck in a chair after a vigourous sans-human partner humping sesh, got out safely. Phew.

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