Give me a chance to explain.
I know Ms Ray is generally vilified, what with her “EVOO” and “delish”, along with her annoying daytime television show. Many people have the right to be irritated by her. I am. Sometimes. But I have to admit, I used to watch the original ’30 Minute Meals’, and I own several of her cookbooks.
No, I usually cannot make those ’30 Minute Meals’ in 30 minutes, but I think Ms Ray was on to something. She makes real food. I mean, have you really looked at her recipes? Have you actually tried any of them? The ones I’ve tried have all been rather tasty. And every one of them calls for real food. Rarely they will ask for a a bit of tortilla chips, or a pre-packaged cornbread mix (Ray doesn’t bake), and the occasional pesto. She does choose ingredients for convenience and speed, such as chicken cutlets or frozen spinach, but it’s still good food…if you purchase the ones right for you. If you want to buy fresh, organic spinach and cook it down for a recipe, go for it. It’s a recipe, not a mathematical equation.
That’s what recipes are for…at least to me. They give you a guideline to follow, making adjustments or substitutions as you see fit. A recipe is a technique. Mix and match (or omit) ingredients depending on your mood or your market. Eat good food, and have fun.
The following isn’t a recipe by Rachael Ray, but it was inspired by her ‘Tuna Pasta Puttanesca’ in Just In Time.
Spicy Tuna & Olive Pasta
- 1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked
- 2 cans tuna in water, drained
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 c chopped mixed olives (I used a spicy mix from the olive bar at the market)
- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used a pint I had in the cupboard)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- scant 1/4 c vermouth
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes, and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add tuna and olives. Cook for about a minute, then stir in the vermouth. Cook down the vermouth about 5 min, then add tomatoes. Simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Add pasta to skillet and toss to combine. (I simmered it for a few minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce.)