I love cooking for others.
But it also stresses me out. Because contrary to how things sometimes may appear, not all of my dishes are successes. I sometimes overcook my meat (I’m looking at you, boneless skinless chicken breasts), or burn the garlic, or come up with really awful flavour pairings. Have you ever had balsamic vinegar and toasted sesame oil together? Don’t – it’s gross.
So anyway, cooking for others makes me nervous because I can never really be completely sure that my recipe will turn out. For example, a few weeks ago I was experimenting with a new pasta recipe, but unfortunately it didn’t come out of the oven as the amazing dish I envisioned. Instead it was dry and under-salted. JZ (being the good boyfriend that he is) insisted that he liked it, but I knew it needed some tweaks to make it better. And being the stubborn girl that I am, I set out to do just that.
And make it better, I did.
Cheesy chicken sausage pasta
Adapted from this recipe for Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash from Ari’s Menu
2 cups dry fusilli pasta
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2.25 tsp basil, divided
2.5 tsp oregano, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey
2 chicken sausages, casings removed
28-oz can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Bring a medium-large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box, but undercook it by about 1 minute. Once it is done, drain it and let the pasta sit in the sieve until you are ready to use it. You may want to toss the noodles in just a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking!
Next in a small bowl mix together the ricotta and cottage cheese with 1.5 tsp basil and 1 tsp oregano. Set aside.
Heat up the oil over low heat in a cast iron pan, then add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the ground turkey, breaking it up as you cook it. When it is mostly browned, add the chicken sausages by removing the casings and mixing it well into the turkey mixture.
When the meat is cooked, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, and remaining basil and oregano. You don’t need to cook for very long at this step – if you do cook it for longer, you may want to add more tomato juice to compensate so that it doesn’t dry out in the oven. Next mix in in the cooked pasta and ricotta/cottage cheese mixture, then top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove and enjoy!
What do you do if a recipe you make isn’t perfect? Do you persevere until it’s perfect or do you give up on it?