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  1. Linguine with Onions, Peas and Basil (p. 459)

    Had a late afternoon doctor's appointment which meant I had to do something fairly easy when I got home. This fit the bill. I guess I hoped that this recipe would be one of those "sum better than parts" things, but it didn't really seem to be. Perfectly pleasant, but nothing I'd bother to make again. I must say, however, that my husband and daughter scarfed it up with compliments.

    1. Tossed Spinach Lasagne and Goat Cheese Gratin (page 465)

      Do NOT even think about making this -- it was bad in so many ways. The last time I felt this badly about a dish I'd made was 1969!

      First off, I hate it when authors do not test their recipes as written; obviously no one tested this one.

      Secondly, I wasted $10 worth of great local goat cheese on this, plus time spent making the pasta, etc.

      I realized something might be amiss when the bechamel was the consistency of library paste, so I thinned it with some (low fat) milk. After adding the pasta, it still seemed mighty thick, so I added a bunch of the pasta cooking water.

      The result was dry, bland, and so loaded in saturated fat that I could've had a rib eye and come out ahead. There is simply no reason to cook this way: nutritionally, this is a "bad fat" bomb. And unless you're using organic milk from pastured cows, you're not helping the be kind to animals quotient, either. Lots of older vegetarian cookbooks use inordinate amounts of dairy to make up for the lack of meat, but this dish has the highest fat-to-bad-result ratio of any I've made.

      I am now extremely leery of this book, and will not cook from it unless posters whose opinions I trust make something and report positively.


      5 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        Oh no! What a disappointingly tragic way of wasting good ingredients, an afternoon, and high hopes. Thank you for taking one for the team on this one. I hope some encouraging reports come our way soon and prove this to be an unfortunate exception.


        1. re: pikawicca

          Yeah, thats horrible. I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience.

          1. re: LulusMom

            Lasagne with Eggplant and Chard, p.468. Light (for lasagne) yet very flavorful and a lovely way to use the CSA chard. I will definitely make this again.

            Brush both sides of sliced eggplant with oil and roast at 400 til brown. Chop coarsely.

            Saute onion and garlic, add chard and white wine and cook for about 10 minutes. She says "until pan is dry", but that didn't seem like that was going to happen anytime soon, so I used a slotted spoon to scoop the mixture onto a cutting board and chopped finely. To this, I added ricotta, water, one egg and S & P.

            Assemble: Spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish. Cover with layer of cooked lasagne noodles, grated pecorino Romano, some of the chopped eggplant, ricotta/chard mixture, some sliced fresh mozzarella, and repeat, topping with remaining sauce. Bake at 400 for 35 min or so.

            One guest thought it needed more tomato sauce (only 8 oz called for), but I thought it was fine as is and added to the fresh veg taste really standing out.I served it as a hearty side dish to some grilled steaks and it was a stand-out summer dinner.

          2. re: pikawicca

            Thanks for your warning pikawicca! I've been reading and rereading the recipes that call out to me and so far have made very simple dishes which for the most part were pretty good. From the title alone one would think the gratin would be fine. What a shame!!

            1. re: pikawicca

              I had a similar problem with this recipe, but don't give up on the book. I've made loads of fabulous recipes from it. Every book has a few losers in it!

            2. Two recipes from the Savory Tarts chapter that I've made in the past and recommend, one more than the other:

              Green Herb Tart, p. 493
              This is a savory tart with lots of chard and other greens combined, ricotta, gruyere, and eggs (just two), and baked in a double crust. This is a great tart, very flavorful, a perfect vegetarian main dish to bring along to a party. I would suggest making sure you use plenty of salt -- she doesn't specify, other than telling you to add a teaspoon when you cook down the chard, but you definitely need to add some to the custard mixture as well. I also don't love the yeasted dough, it's not that easy to work with, and while it tastes fine, it's hard to roll out as thin as it should be, so it can end up being a little doughy. I think any savory pastry dough would work here. Other than that, I like this recipe a lot, especially because I love chard, and it's a good make ahead dish.

              Eggplant Torta, p. 495
              This I made as a vegetarian main course for a family member who loves eggplant, and she was very satisfied. I thought it was more trouble than it was worth for the taste -- there are lots of steps to this recipe, and while it came out fine, it took a while to slice all of the eggplant, and brown it, and cook the vegetable mixture, then layer all of the fillings, etc. The presentation was also less attractive than I wanted it to be. The eggplant lover adored it, but I've made much better eggplant dishes, and there are other better savory tarts to make.

              1. Spaghetti with Artichokes (p. 447)

                Made this with linguine instead, and used frozen artichoke hearts. Delicious. Used probably double the wine, and maybe didn't have quite the 3 tablespoons of tarragon called for - next time I'd try to make sure I did, but either way we really liked this a lot.

                9 Replies
                1. re: LulusMom

                  Sounds great and I have some frozen artichokes at the moment. Would you mind giving a recipe?

                  1. re: greedygirl


                    Heat 3 tblspoons olive oil and saute a large onion and the artichokes (I used two boxes - which is probably about 6 artichokes total, just a guess). Saute until the onion is soft, then add 4 cloves (chopped) garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon (she also says rosemary can work with this) and 1/2 cup (I used significantly more) white wine - simmer until reduced. Add 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt; taste sauce for salt. Cook the pasta, scoop out and toss with the artichoke sauce and add 1/3 (-3 tablespoons if you want to be exact with the recipe - I just eyeballed on this part) olive oil and another 1 1/2 tablespoon tarragon. Season, serve with grated parm.

                    Hope you like it. All that lovely tarragon with the reduced wine just made me think "south of France."

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I'm going to use the pasta cooking water for that 1 cup of water in the recipe....it will be cooking while the sauce is being made.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Pretty much how it worked for me too - as you slop the noodles from one pot to the other. Its always better that way, isn't it?

                      2. re: LulusMom

                        Sounds scrummy - how can anything with artichokes not be nice? Thanks for taking the time to post that. I will report back...

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Exactly how I feel about artichokes! And always happy to help out - it must be tough having such a hard time getting your hands on the books.

                          I put it down in front of my 2 year old with no explanation about the artichokes, and she ate it without asking what it was, and seemed very happy with it.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Kids today don't know how lucky they are! (Omigod I sound like my mother.) I think I was nearly twenty and living in France before I encountered an artichoke.

                    2. re: LulusMom

                      This is good to know LL....This is my Friday night dinner plan!! Artichokes are waiting in the freezer and the tarragon is growing in the garden.
                      Many thanks.

                      1. re: Gio

                        I've got the tarragon from my back porch ... I can't grow much of anything, but this stuff is growing like a weed. What a nice problem to have, huh? I hope you like it.

                    3. Gnocchi, p. 478:
                      I'd never made gnocchi before and wanted to try. Madison's recipe is similar to others I've seen. You bake the potatoes, peel them while they're hot and pass them through a ricer or food mill. I used an ancient food mill I got on eBay. Then you just add flour and salt, roll the dough into logs and make gnocchi. After you boil them briefly she suggests you bake them in a gratin dish with butter and parmesan. I have to say that for a first effort they were very good. I will definitely make these again.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: NYCkaren

                        I'm impressed. Gnocchi are one of the things I want so much to try, but I'm daunted. And I don't have a food mill or ricer.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I was in the same boat, LulusMom. I had researched various recipes but had never taken the plunge. But one thing I realized is that I've logged so many hours watching cooking shows on TV that I knew how to form the gnocchi using the tines of a fork.

                          A food mill is a useful item and they don't take up that much space. Mine was cheap but it works. I've used it for jobs like making Concord grape sorbet. You need something to separate out the seeds.

                      2. Spaghetti with Artichokes, Pg. 447

                        Made this for Friday night's dinner.....Because I had 2 boxes of artichoke hearts in the freezer that's what I used for this dish. LuLusMom has described this recipe above so I won't go into details here...but just to let you know I Did Not like this at all. I love all the individual ingredients, artichokes, garlic, lemons, spaghetti.....even with my beautiful-fresh-from-the-garden tarragon.....nothing about the combination excited me. In fact I think tarragon is the wrong herb here. I'm thinking maybe basil - a lot - might have been more flavorful. I'll never know cuz, I'm not going to make it again. On my plate I added extro red pepper flakes and more grated cheese. Still ugh, in a word.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Gio

                          Yikes, sorry to hear it. We absolutely loved this one, although your feelings about it seem sort of like mine about the peas and onions pasta (maybe my feelings weren't *quite* as strong on that one though).

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            In all fairness I must admit that Mr. G loved it. We thought that was funny. But let it be known that he has a diminished sense of smell. And you know what that means....no taste. Hehehe...

                            1. re: Gio

                              With great sadness I went into the kitchen and said "one of the other chowhound cooks didn't like the artichoke pasta" and he got a shocked look and said "thats weird." But you know how it is - that's why they make both chocolate and vanilla. I'm just really sorry it wasn't a hit for you.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Thank you for your commiseration LLM. I'm beginning to wonder if my medication may have something to do with my taste buds. Or lack thereof, lately. It may be, since DH & I seem to differ widely regarding the flavor of a finished dish. Happened tonight again. Time to investigate further, I guess.....

                        2. Fettuccine with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pg. 461

                          Monday night, from time immemorial has been Macaroni night at casa M & M G. So, in keeping with that self-inflicted tradition we had DM's version of a pasta dish instead of one from mia cucina.
                          8 oz. Parmigiano at room temperature (DM wanted chunks, I kept the piece whole otherwise there would have been some grated fingers in the mix.)
                          1/4 lb. butter (I used a bit less than 1/4 cup of EVOO with 2 T butter at the end.)
                          1 lb. Fettuccine
                          S & P

                          Another super simple recipe. Cook the pasta. Put some of the butter(oil) in the bottom of a large flatish bowl. Grate some of the cheese into the bowl. Drain the pasta and add to bowl, toss to cover with the mixture adding more butter(oil) and cheese. Add salt and FGBpepper, toss again. I added a bit of butter at the last to round out the flavor and it worked.

                          If I were making my own version of this dish I would have added red pepper flakes and garnished with minced fresh Italian parsley .... but I didn't. However, without prompting from me DH added RPF to his dish. This is a satisfying dish and is an Italian comfort food. It was in fact my maternal Grandmother's favorite dish. She used lots of butter and plenty of black pepper. She lived to be 95!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Gio

                            My very favorite comfort food (but I always use angel hair). So simple but so good.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              After rereading what I wrote about my Gramma, I think she used linguine. But, it IS good, isn't it??

                              1. re: Gio

                                It's perfect! And it couldn't be any easier.

                          2. Fettuccine with Gorgonzola, Pg. 461

                            Well it *would* have been F/w G if I had the fettuccine and the Gorgonzola...but... as it was I'll call it Bucatini with Bleu.

                            In any case, I did follow Ms. Madison's direction to cook the macaroni, and get the warmed serving bowl ready with 2 Ts of unsalted butter, garlic (which I pressed), half cup of cream, and the cheese which is broken into chunks. After draining the macaroni, add to the bowl and toss all the ingredients so that the butter and cheese melts and the macaroni is comletely covered in the sauce.
                            It was delicious... although I think the bucatini didn't do the sauce justice. Nevertheless, we loved it! Sometimes I find Gorgonzola a bit too strident; the Danish Blue I used was very mellow and was an apt substitute.

                            She has a variation of this dish using Chevre instead of Gorgonzola. I have to make this again using the recommended pasta.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Gio

                              Gio, where did you find bucatini in the greater boston area? I did a quick look at WF a few months ago and didn't see any.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                DH bought it at Trader Joe's in Cambridge on Memorial Dr..... although the package says Bucati - it's really Bucatini. "Trader Joe's Italian Bucati made from 100% hard durum semolina, Product of Italy."
                                1 lb. @ $.99

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Excellent, thanks. My DH does the TJ's shopping. I'll have to put it on his list.

                              2. re: Gio

                                I like something very similar to this but with spinach or arugula tossed in too. The slight bitterness of the greens helps cut the (wonderful) funk of the blue cheese.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Great suggestion using arugula which I love! Thanx....

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    and you can feel a bit more saintly when you do it!

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Too funny LLM..... OOOXXX

                                      Where's TDQ with her WW points......

                                    2. re: Gio

                                      I've been throwing in handfuls of arugula to various pasta dishes over the last couple of months - usually when I don't have enough left to use for a salad. And, yes, it does make one feel (somewhat) saintly.

                                    3. re: LulusMom

                                      Made this tonight (the fettucine with gorganzola) and added baby spinach. wonderful on a gray and sort of yucky Monday night. Lulu gulped it down, as did the rest of us. Easy to clean up after too, which is a bonus.

                                  2. Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil, p. 456. This simple dish was truly delicious and makes great use of the overflowing zucchini. Chunks of zucchini are cooked gently in warmed garlicky oil til soft and browned in places. Add 1/2 cup milk and cook a bit longer. Toss onto cooked pasta, adding parmesan, romano and basil. I served this with Braised Red Radishes, p. 416 (will report on veg thread) and some ciabatta. So fresh and summery.

                                    1. Roasted Red Pepper Tart (sorry, don't know page of recipe, cookbook not in front of me). I've made this many times and always get really good reviews of it. The only negative is the olive oil crust she recommends. I've tried that multiple times as well, and have NEVER had it turn out successfully.

                                      1. Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers (p. 454)

                                        This is a *great* pantry dinner. You use real toms if they are in season, but I used a can of diced tomatoes (which she says is ok). First heat olive oil with sliced garlic, then discard that garlic and add the tomatoes, chopped garlic, kalamata olives, red pepper flakes, chopped marjoram (I didn't have any and just subbed dried oregano) and simmer for 10 minutes. For me, the idea of simmering the olives and capers for that long somehow didn't seem right - seemed like it might take away too much of their oomph, so I added those in during the last 4 minutes of simmering. I didn't have any fresh parsley around so didn't add that at the end. This is a zingy, delicious meal that you probably have the stuff for in your house already. It will definitely go into rotation around here.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          I just happened to be rereading this thread to try and find something interesting to make as a vegetarian meal next week, and just wanted to say (since I made this pasta dish last night) that it has become very much a favorite in this house. It is so easy, and has lots of kabang flavors. Capers and black olives and hot peppers and hot carbs ... what is not to like??

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers, p. 454

                                            After this recipe came up on the COTM weeknight hits thread (and I think it was the second time this dish came up recently), I decided to give it a try. I had all the ingredients on hand except the marjoram, for which, like LLM, I subbed a bit of dried oregano, and chopped fresh parsley, which I had to omit (I had just used the last of it the night before). As LLM reports, this is a great pantry pasta dish (assuming your pantry contains olives, capers and canned tomatoes -- mine usually does). We liked it a lot. I made it with 3/4 pound pasta and should have used the full pound or else reduced the capers a bit. I think if I had followed the recipe exactly as written (with the parsley and more pasta), I would have liked it a bit better, but I can hardly blame the author for my deviations! It's nice to have a recipe for a zesty, full-flavored tomato sauce that cooks in the same amount of time it takes to cook the pasta. Thanks LLM for the rec.

                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                              Yay! I sometimes feel like I'm advertising this pasta since I talk it up so much, but it really is great when you don't have time for something fancy, but you want something with some zing to it.

                                          2. Spaghettini with Salsa Verde (p. 457)

                                            Trust me, I get why people don't care for this book. But if you happen to have it and want to try something from it before tossing it, this might be the way to go. I've had good luck with most of the pasta recipes I've tried from it, and this is no exception. I'm looking forward to making it again when LulusDad is in town, this time it was just Lulu and me, and we loved it.

                                            First you make the salsa verde (which, sigh, is in a different section of the book but I'm going to tell you about it here). You finely dice 2 shallots, finely chop 1/2 cup of parsley, chop 1/3 cup of mixed herbs (I used more). I used basil and mint. Next comes 2-3 tablespoons of capers (I didn't rinse mine), grated zest of one lemon, 1 minced garlic clove (I went for 2) - mix all of these, add 3/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and then either lemon juice or champagne vinegar (surprisingly for this house I went with the vinegar) and stir it all together. Really fresh bright flavors here. She has an optional hard boiled egg in the recipe, but we're not big hbe fans here so we skipped that.

                                            Cube 8 oz. of zucchini. I made very small cubes and wished I hadn't, because you cook them in the pasta water and then pull out, and that was a pain with the small ones. Why not just put them in 4-5 minutes before the pasta is finished and drain all at the same time? Seems sensible and easier to me. I also think something like spinach would be great added to this. Anyway, cook and drain the veg, add to the salsa verde in a large pasta bowl, then cook and drain the pasta and add it to that bowl, combine and serve with grated parmesan. I think if you were serving a vegan they'd be perfectly happy with this meal without the cheese - it really doesn't need it (of course you'd need to skip the egg in the salsa verde too). But again, we really loved this. Perfect summer pasta and fairly easy and can be done with just one burner.