Melissa Hebert Meola, Martha Stewart accolyte and author of the Domestic Putterings blog, posted this to her Pinterest wall “Feed Yourself Why Not” last week. In my search for dinner ideas, I came across it and repinned it to my Pinterest wall “Things I Want To Cook.” Pinterest is fascinating to me, especially as the only heterosexual, naturally-born male in America that actively uses it. It’s a fantastic driver of traffic to Al Dente, and I’m grateful for that. It has led to more dinners featured on this blog than I can count.
It’s also everything I hate about people.
Pinterest is elaborate craft projects for your kids by parents who believe that children should have every moment of their day programmed. And have you looked at some of these? They are projects for mothers who believe that their kid is brilliant, so they drop $120 at Hobby Lobby, get home, realize that their child is, in fact, a child and has no interest in their parent’s structured bullshit. They just want to eat glue and play Barbies. So mom spends the afternoon building a life-sized balsa wood, mason jar, cotton ball and food dye playhouse, and later posts photos on their Facebook page of this finished project with captions like “Look at how smart and beautiful little Jae-Lynn is. She built this all by herself today!!” It empowers and deludes, though it’s likely a short trip for these parents.
Pinterest is also the worst in crockpot and casserole cooking. With pins like “Look how easy this chicken dinner is! Take 1 lb. chicken breasts, 1 tsp. animal lard, 3 gallons of melted butter and just put it in the crockpot!” or “Beef Wellington Casserole. Tastes just like you get in a fancy restaurant,” I often wonder why our obesity rates aren’t higher. It’s a stark reminder of why restaurants like The Olive Garden remain in business: people don’t care about the quality of food as long as there is enough melted cheese and OMG THE BREADSTICKS ARE SO GOOD.
It’s a lot of other things too — don’t get me started on the poor use of typography in the pins — but I’m finding that the more I write, the more I have to go back and delete at the risk of losing some of you, my dear readers. Speaking of which, what the hell was this post about? Yeah, right. Pinterest and cooking. Follow good cooks. Take pins from good pinners. And if the recipe says something about it being so easy or so yummy, it will likely kill you.
WHAT WORKED: Timing. All things said and done, this went together rather quickly for a weeknight meal. The most laborious part of prepping was chopping the onion.
WHAT DIDN’T: I just reread what I wrote above. Apparently, I need a hug.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: Not much, though a lot of positive sounding noises came from her side of the table. More “mmmm” than “ack.”
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Very likely. I think I would like to work in fresh tomatoes or Swiss chard.
Tomato and Sausage Risotto
From Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food (Nov. 2006)
- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, in juice
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 10-14 oz. flat-leaf spinach, washed well, tough stems removed, chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
- 2 tbsp. butter
In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.