Monday, February 21, 2011

Judging by the Gag Factor

Anyone else determine whether or not a meal is a success based on how many times - or whether or not - your family gags?  C'mon!  Show of hands!  Anyone? Anyone?  Bueller?

Indeed, determining a method to assess the meals in the Everyday Food Challenge is ... well, challenging!  There's a perfectly good reason why I tend to go to Bread Co or make fish sticks or order pizza as a mealtime rule.  OK, aside from a) poor planning and b) poor time management - the kids eat Bread Co, fish sticks, and Domino's pizza!  Do you have any idea how many times I've spent hours in the kitchen preparing a feast fit for kings and queens only to be sentenced to throwing meat to the dog and licking the mashed potatoes off the plates myself?  Yes?  (OK, probably I'm the only who eats everybody else's's a waste to throw them away!  ...And I love mashed potatoes...)  But I do know other mothers lament the same troubles over getting their kids to eat healthy foods.  I return to that original question, though - anyone else determine meal success based on lack of gagging amongst the constituents?  That I need to know. 

I have some gaggers at my house.  And some amazing lolligaggers.

The first meal I made from this month's Everyday Foods was pictured on Friday: shells with roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, and ricotta - a lovely blend of flavors and textures I truly thought was, although not spectacular, a savory blend of foods that tasted really quite good together.  The tastes were subdued and mixed nicely.  I served cheese bread with the pasta for lunch because once, long ago, a dietician told me to always serve a familiar favorite with an unpreferred.  Which led to me having to field 87,648 requests for more cheese bread whereas no one had even taken a single bite of pasta.  While I was on my second bowl.  *sigh*

Results of the first recipe in our challenge:
Mom:  thumbs up
Pooks: thumbs down (had to threaten to take away her opportunity to star in a Make A Wish movie to get her to eat it)
Meiners: gagged 4 times
Sashi:  "meh"
T: absent
Mr: absent (lucky man)

Good thing to know: eat this meal fresh, straight from the pot.  I gave it to Mr. the next day as a lunch of leftovers.  I found it gag-worthy at that point.  Even tried to doctor it with more cheese and some salt and pepper.  blech.  So, judging by the gag factor, probably not a repeat performance likely in this house.  But, just in case you're not scared and you'd like to give it a shot, here's a slightly modified version of the recipe:

::  shells with roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, and ricotta ::

1/4c EVOO
1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2c crusty bread cut into 1/2" pieces
1# medium shells
3T chopped fresh parsley
1/2c ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 425, with racks in upper and lower thirds.  On a rimmed sheet, toss together 2T oil, cauliflower, and chickpeas.  Season with S&P.  Arrange cauliflower and chickpeas in a single layer and roast until cauliflower is tender and chickpeas are crunchy, 25m (I did not find our chickpeas to be crunchy.  Test them.  This added to the gag factor, I do have to admit.)  On another sheet, arrange bread in a single layer and toast until golden and crisp, about 10m.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Drain and return to pot.  Add cauliflower mixture, 2T oil, and parsley.  Season with S&P and toss to combine.  Serve with croutons and ricotta, then drizzle with oil.

Serves 6
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