A few times a week I instagram a table top like this, and people comment that they would like to come to my house for dinner. You are all welcome! I tend to cook when I am stressed, so the more food on the table the more something is bothering me. You can see today was a bit stress free because there are a lot of prepackaged things on the table, really, not a lot of actual cooking at all! I serve things in different dishes so that everyone can choose what they want to eat according to their own tastes - in this house, EVERYONE has an opinion on what they want to eat, and this gives them some ownership of that. Today I thought I would go through the process of putting this on the table, because although I love cooking, this dinner took less than an hour from go to whoa.
Disclaimer: I am not Italian by any stretch of the imagination, and this is probably not authentic.
- 1 large eggplant. This will need to be cut into chunks, sprinkled with salt, and left to rest on the sink for about 30 minutes to allow the salt to draw all the bitterness out.
- 2 large zucchini, cut into large rounds
- 2 red capsicum, cut into large sections
- A punnet of brown mushrooms, whole
- Whatever else you think would be nice - olives? A tin of marinated artichokes? Feta cheese? large slices of fennel? Whole cloves of garlic? Go for it!
- Rinse off the eggplant, toss into a baking dish with the rest of the veggies.I use oven bake because it makes washing up easier.
- If you'd like to feel extra fancy, put a few sprigs of rosemary under the vegetables.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, drizzle with olive oil, whack in the oven for 30 minutes on high.
- Mince of your choice (this is beef)
- 4 or 5 slices of wholegrain bread
- soy sauce - maybe a teaspoon or 2.
- Put the bread in a food processor and turn the bread into bread crumbs.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend for at least a few minutes, you want it mixed well but not pureed.
- using wet hands, roll into balls and put in a fry pan.
- Put the fry pan into the fridge until 30 minutes before you want dinner to be served.
- When you are ready to cook them, drizzle with some olive oil and pan fry over medium heat. Shake the pan often and turn them with some tongs so they don't burn.
Pasta Sauce (and pasta)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- olive oil
- a packet of pasta - today tortellini was on sale. Yay!
- Saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft
- Add the tomatoes and let simmer for a few minutes while you put the pasta on. You could use plain pasta if you like, and add other things like bacon, cooked chicken, or mushrooms to the sauce if you want, just wait until after the next step.
- Here is my trick for getting the little one to eat pasta sauce that contains onions; blend it with a stab blender. Super easy and he doesn't even notice. If you use a stab blender you can do it in the saucepan and save washing up.
- when the pasta is cooked, stir it into the sauce. This will sit happily at the back of the stove top until you are ready to serve, just heat it up a little before plating it. It's good to let it sit for a bit because the pasta will have time to soak up the flavour.
Spinach and Cheese Triangles
A packet of spinach and cheese triangles. Dude, they where on sale for less than $2, how could I resist? They where a bit of fun and the kids loved them. Maybe I did too. Shut up.
Oh, OK then. Whack them in the oven 15 minutes before you want them on the table.
Um, it's a bag of salad and a bag of tomatoes in a bowl, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Fancy.
Cut some nice bread up and put it on a bread board to look 'Italian'.
Put everything on the table and call your hungry family to dinner. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy.
So what do you think, pretty easy? I think it's just because everything is plated separately it looks a bit fancy. The only thing that could be tricky is the timing, this is the order I used.
- cut and salt the eggplant
- prep the rest of the vegetables and put aside
- make the meatballs, put them in the fridge
- make the pasta sauce
- rinse off the eggplant, add to veggies, put them in the oven.
- start cooking the meatballs
- cook the tortellini
- put the triangles in the oven
- mix the pasta into the sauce
- plate everything and put it on the table.