I first heard of Murdoch’s 365 challenge on Ellie’s blog, and I am super excited to be part of this challenge, where cooks from all over the world are cooking through Stéphane Reynaud’s 365 Good Reasons to Sit down to Eat. This is the first of a few recipes I’m trying – it was meant for 3 June, which incidentally was my birthday (I didn’t realize it when I was picking recipes), and I also didn’t realize how busy I’d be with all the traveling and settling down I’d to do, so I’m really sorry that this is out of sync with the date it is supposed to be made on. Some comments about the book which I now have – I’ll have to say that since this book is written by a ‘western’ author, some of the recipes on certain days do call for some ingredients which are slightly more exotic or harder to find in Singapore, or perhaps just a lot more expensive. Just another little gripe though – I’m someone who’s really into details – and Reynaud’s instructions tend to be a little of the vague side. He also tends to list ingredients like “onions” and “tomatoes” without specifying white or red onions, etc – this could be problematic for new cooks who are using the book. Nevertheless, the book is still great for dinner ideas, especially when you’re running low on inspiration, because the dishes are really easy to whip up and require very minimal preparation and cooking time!
I chose this spaghetti recipe as my first attempt, because spaghetti bolognese is perhaps one of the first few one-pot dishes I made, and have continued to make many times. I don’t usually follow a specific recipe when cooking spaghetti bolognese, but I was pleasantly surprised as to how similar my ‘recipe’ (or the lack of it) is to Reynaud’s.
Note: I have amended the ingredients instructions in the book slightly to suit my own recipe. For the original recipe, please refer to page 240 of Stéphane Reynaud’s 365 Good Reasons to Sit down to Eat.
- Dice the tomatoes. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Peel and slice the onions. Slice the mushrooms.
- Sauté the meat in olive oil with the onions, allowing them to brown before adding the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms grey, add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and sauce. Cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Add in the halved cherry tomatoes.
- Cook the spaghetti in boiling water with some olive oil and salt added, for about 10 minutes. Drain the spaghetti and pour the Bolognese sauce over it.
- Roughly slice the basil and scatter over the plate. Add in some olives if preferred.
- General Comments: As usual, I added my own ingredients to the recipe – I substituted the fresh basil for dried ones because I didn’t have fresh basil available, and I had to use up my mushrooms and lean bacon strips which were probably going to spoil. These substitutions might have altered the taste of the original recipe somewhat, but I believe what’s important is the tomato base for the sauce!
- Taste: Make sure to use nice fresh tomatoes so that you get a nice sauce. I tend to add some sugar to sweeten if the tomato sauce is too tart. If you don’t have concentrated tomato paste or sauce, just use tomato puree that you can get from the supermarkets. I prefer using fresh tomatoes since there’s no preservatives involved. Also, be sure to look for good concentrated tomato paste – I use passata di pomodoro (which is basically Italian for tomato paste) which I bought in Italy, which is awesome tasting.
- Modifications: Reynaud advises against using minced meat, because using steaks or chicken fillets and slicing them is a much tastier choice. I roughly quartered the recipe to make 2 servings – it was enough for 2 small eaters for dinner.
- Storage: The sauce stores well in the fridge for about 3 days, and freezes well as well.
- Would I make this again?: Definitely – I make this all the time when I run out of things to cook. This is also my ultimate easy to cook dish and is something I always turn to while traveling and when I have my own kitchen, because it calls for the simplest of seasonings and ingredients.
PS: I bought the cherry tomatoes from an organic market here in Sydney (which I will be writing about soon), and they tasted soooooo awesome. The sweetness and slight tartness that bursts into your mouth when you bite into it is unbelievable! If these already taste so good, I can’t imagine how the heirloom tomatoes will taste like!