How many times have you drooled over what is being cooked in a TV show but you were too lazy to cook it, memorize it, or even write it down? It feels like the sight, the virtual drooling and the imagined smell are just enough. Clearly it’s not. But shamelessly I often stick to the pretty visuals.
One night I watched Jamie Oliver cooking something in his show ‘Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals’. Have I missed the time when he declared war on Rachel Rey? Will she strike back with 5-minute meals cooking show? I hope not. I can imagine her opening a can of food, heating it on the stove, because it takes more time than a microwave, and serving it. I bet she’d call them gourmet dishes as well. Who knows!
Now seriously speaking, I like how these shows promote that cooking is easy and everyone can do it, but come on, one needs more time to buy, clean and prepare the ingredients. This is what makes me ALWAYS late when preparing food. Once I have all the ingredients ready, assembling and cooking is easy. Maybe what I should do is plan ahead. Or follow a cooking plan. Honestly I don’t think I can.
Jamie Oliver is a very enthusiastic cook. He’s the kind of cook who really makes you want to eat anything he makes. Nearly as much as Nigella Lawson, whom I would eat raw, unprocessed plain carrots if she ever talk about or present them. Once I craved Fattouch (which is a local salad we can have at any time) when she prepared it. You know, Nigella is attractive, and the producers are aware of it and they never spare a moment without giving us (the audience) eye candy. Whether it is Nigella or the delicious food that she prepares, she can rule the food empire. You also have Martha Stewart whose show is calm and where she gives good recipes with great tips for working in the kitchen and garden. She built a kingdom devoted for kitchen, garden, weddings and lifestyle. I love Martha.
And don’t get me started on Emril’s Live show. He cooks delicious meals with great passion and with verbal and facial expressions that really makes you drool; the way he sprinkles the dishes with his secret spice, how he deeply smells the food and tastes it with appetizing expressions on his face.
Incredible food styling, amazing easily achievable recipes, professional lighting and shooting, almost no cheesy dialogue or story telling… all the more reason why no cooking show from the Arab world has ever came close to ANY of those on the throne; Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Emeril, Lidia Bastianich and a few others. (BASED ON PERSONAL OPINION). Until I get my own cooking show, I will be cooking in a five square meters kitchen.
So I found this recipe online and decided to make it myself, of course with some adaptations. The end result: a delicious light meal for two consisting of creamy mushroom Farfalle which creaminess comes from mushrooms and crumbled feta or goat cheese yet fresh with freshly chopped parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. And a simple salad combing crisp spinach leaves topped with a shredded apple and lightly toasted and crushed hazelnuts finished with drizzles of olive oil and lemon juice.
Dammit. I’m drooling now. This recipe will surely be repeated.
Jamie Oliver’s quick Spinach Salad & Creamy Mushroom Farfalle
For 2 persons
- 1 bag Spinach, or a bunch as in my case
- 1 red apple
- 1 green apple (optional)
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- Blue or goat cheese (optional)
- Juice of one lemon
- Olive oil
- 300gm Farfalle
- 1 small onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- Salt & pepper
- 70gm white mushrooms (feel free to add more)
- 50gm dried mushrooms (i used black mushrooms from the ethnic section)
- 5 tbsp crumbles feta or goat cheese
- Zest of one lemon
- A handful of parsley
- Olive oil
- In a pan, roast the hazelnuts until they’re warm and fragrant and set aside
- Arrange the spinach on a flat salad serving dish
- Shred the apple in a bowl and mix with lemon juice to avoid oxidation and discoloring
- Spread the shredded apples on top of the spinach
- Crush the hazelnuts in a mortar with a pestle, or put in a plastic bag and smash with a bottle or the bottom of a plate
- Sprinkle the crushed hazelnuts generously over the salad
- Crumble the cheese and spread on top
- Drizzle with olive oil and more lemon juice as desired
- Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water
- Cook Farfalle according to package instructions
- Chop the onion and grate the garlic
- In a wide frying pan, heat olive oil and on medium low heat cook onion and garlic
- Sprinkle with salt & pepper
- Chop the white mushrooms and add them to the pan
- Take the dried mushrooms out of the water, squeeze, chop and cook with the other ingredients in the pan for around 5 minutes
- In a food processor or blender, pulse the mushrooms with the mushrooms soaking water. For a chunky sauce, process lightly, otherwise process heavily until you get a smooth sauce
- Return to the pan and bring to a boil
- Chop the parsley and mix with the lemon zest
- Mix half the parsley-lemon mixture with the sauce in the pan
- Add the cooked farfalle and toss well until combined
- Throw in the cheese and toss well until the sauce gets creamy. If its too thick, add tablespoons of reserved pasta water
- Mix the rest of the parsley and lemon zest and serve hot
- Finish with drizzles of olive oil