Thursday, June 10, 2010

Just Another Pretty Plate

 Sadly, my dinner from a few nights ago was nothing but a pretty plate.*  The ingredients make your mouth water and the plate makes you want to dig in, but once your fork hits your  mouth you are filled with emptiness, disappointment, and an unsatisfied hunger for more flavor. 

This all began when I noticed a recipe in an issue of Martha Stewart Living written by Barilla (you know, the pasta people) for bowtie (farfalle) pasta, and I wanted to give it a shot because it has a pretty short, basic ingredient list and boasts a simple preparation.

  • 1 box Barilla Farfalle
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small white onion
  • 6 ounces Prosciutto
  • 1 1/2 cups green peas
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups Half and Half
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook Farfalle according to instructions on box.  In the meantime, saute onion in olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat; Add prosciutto and peas to onion, saute for 3 minutes; Add white wine, simmer until mixture has reduced by half; Stir in half and half, heavy cream, season with salt and pepper for 1-2 minutes; Drain pasta, then toss in the sauce; Sir in Parmesan cheese prior to serving.
    Sounds simple enough right? In addition to sounding simple it also sounds delicious too, huh? Yes, that was my logic as well so I was eager to start cooking, of course with a few modifications:
    • I halved the entire recipe as I was only cooking for my boyfriend and myself
    • I used 2 cloves of elephant ear garlic in lieu of a white onion because I realized (at dinner prep time) that I didn't have one and I refused to go the store
    • I added fresh cut asparagus and tomatoes for color and nutrition
    With all of that said, I started cooking and everything was looking good... until I added the dairy products.  Despite cooking on a low heat (to avoid milk curdling) the dairy was attracted to the prosciutto and formed these weird little milk balls on it.  This irritated me, but I kept stirring and it got better, although it was not the creamy wine sauce that I envisioned.

    I figured this was also a good time to taste the sauce, and I was hoping it tasted better than it looked.  Sadly, I was wrong.  This was the most bland cream sauce I'd ever tasted!  I made numerous resuscitation attempts through the addition of butter, cream, kosher salt, cracked pepper, parsley, and an a bit of nutmeg and finally reached a point where it was at least okay To top off this culinary crisis I was concerned that this was not enough sauce to coat the pasta, a fear confirmed when I tossed the drained pasta into the pan.  Despite all of this I held out hope that the Parmasean cheese would be the glue to bring all of this together.  Sadly it wasn't, so I added a bit more cream to thicken the sauce, and braced myself for a subpar dinner.

    With little bowties staring back at us, Steven (non-foodie boyfriend) and I sat down for dinner.  He began sniffing the bowl, and tasting each component; I bravely took my first bite.  I tasted more cheese than anything as the cream sauce hid the complex notes of the prosciutto and freshness of the vegetables. We were both disappointed and hungry, but refusing to eat anymore of this pasta, so I made cookies to fill the void.  With all of that said, this recipe was a big womp, womp.

    Perhaps this is all my fault because I halved the recipe, maybe Barilla let me down, or was this a combination of errors committed by both parties?  Regardless of who is at fault, I know that I will not be making this again.  I plan on using the remaining portion of pasta for a nice salad or pesto pasta.

    *I know you're thinking "why the heck is she writing a review about a bad recipe?"  To answer that query, I think its important that bloggers also mention what goes wrong in the kitchen as that's how we learn from our culinary mistakes and show that we are human.  Plus, despite being published all recipes are not yummy so the bad ones need to be discussed too.


    1. Sorry you wasted your time and money on a crumby meal! I hate when that happens! Unfortunately, I live alone, and cook full size meals, so I end up having to eat leftovers for days of a dish I didn't enjoy in the first place! I don't like to waste food even if it is not to my taste, unless there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with it, like the first time I cooked salt fish! I found a recipe online, and instead of soaking for a day, you were supposed to BOIL it to remove the excess salt. Naturally, that did not work AT ALL... I felt like I was a bird with a salt lick!!!

    2. There is no problem with submitting recipes that are subpar, your intentions were good, both with a great starting recipe and adding some extra ingredients for nutrition. I am sure your next one will knock your socks off! ;)

    3. @Joanna: LOL to your salted fish story, love it! We've all had mishaps in the kitchen and that's okay. As far as your leftovers are concerned try halving recipes OR freezing the leftover portions. I generally do that for soups, sauces, and marinated meats (my boyfriend calls me a squirrel) and it makes cooking a future meal faster, plus you don't have to eat the same thing all week :)

      @The Cilantropist: Thanks for supporting my gripe entry and providing additional encouragement!

      Thanks for reading loves!


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