How This Started and My Hope For This Experiment

My Husband and I are both big fans of Jamie Oliver. For Christmas I bought him Jamie's cookbook "Jamie's 30 Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast". As I read the preface of his cookbook I was inspired by his ideas. He felt that he was spending too much time cooking during the busy week and doing too much clean up. So he decided that for the week night meals there needed to be something quick and still healthy and yummy. He and his team did a lot of work and made the "30 Minute Meals". He has explicit directions for step by step getting the meal done in 30 min. He tells you what to do first, second, and third so that you have all dishes going at the same time, instead of making it dish by dish. Since we aren't doing once a month cooking right now I was captured by this idea and dying to start trying. I have been spending way too much time in the kitchen during the week and can't wait to be able to prepare good meals fast. My husband was all for it since he loves to eat great food and has a very particular palette. He will be making some of the meals on weekends when he isn't working because, this is after all, his cookbook :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Broccoli Orecchiette, Courgette & Bocconcini Salad, Prosciutto & Melon Salad

What's on the menu for today? Broccoli Orcchiette, Courgette & bocconcini salad, and Prosciutto and Melon salad. Here is what I started with. This meal was also expensive and would have been much more expensive if I had used the prosciutto.
FIRST: This was the very first time I have ever cooked with anchovies and I was nervous. I wasn't sure how strong they would taste and if the kids and I would like them. BUT, I thought I was going to have to buy them whole with heads on like a sardine. This was much easier for my stomach to think about grinding in the food processor than a whole fish would have been. I have a squeamish stomach when it comes to cooking with whole fish and animals. Boned and skinned, scaled and decapitated-that is my preferred way to cook.
Here is the start of the courgette and bocconcini salad:

Here is the paste for the pasta:

Here is the melon: My son really loved this picture and wanted to make sure it made the cut so here it is-

Here is the finished product of the Prosciutto and melon salad. But it is really a bacon and melon salad. I was looking forward to using prosciutto for the first time. It was hard to come by where I used to live and I thought it would be more plentiful here. NOPE! I found a few packages for 10$-$12NZD each. and they only had 4 pieces in them. It would have cost $30-$40 NZD just for the prosciutto so I opted to try bacon instead even though it really isn't the same thing.

Close up of the melon salad. This was really fantastic. The flavors all went so well together and my husband and son ate 2 and 3 servings each. The basil, lemon and cantaloupe juice made the dressing. I was so bummed later that night though when I realized I had left out one of the most important part of this dish. My husband was 45 min late getting home from work and I had to keep everything in a state of perpetual hold until I could dress it and put it on the table when he got home. When he walked in I was in such a rush to serve before things were cold and or soggy I forgot to drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top.

Here is the courgette and bocconcini salad. You might know this green veggie as zucchini and the white chunks as baby mozzarella balls rather than courgettes and bocconcini. I was very skeptical of this dish seeing as how I really dislike courgettes unless made into a desert bread. But I was pleasantly surprised and how wonderful it was. It was a perfect summer salad and full of flavor in the dressing. I would definitely eat it again. This salad was also a little pricey because of the bocconcini. For one tub it was around $12 or 13$ NZD. My littlest one grabbed the tub off the counter at the store and dropped it on the floor cracking the tub and allowing the juices to flow freely. I told them to just put it in a plastic bag and I would take it anyway. The man was surprised and this and had to re-scan it before it could be bagged. Just as I heard the scanner beep in success the juices that hadn't escaped before made their appearance. It immediately conjured up images in my head of how persons have described the experience of "breaking their water" during pregnancy. The image didn't last long as I was pulled back to reality by 3 store members rushing about trying to clean up the mess. One lady insisted I not take that tub of bocconcini and went to get me another one for which I was grateful. Long story for a small salad.

Here is the main course. Broccoli orecchiette which wasn't really orecchiette at all because I had used all the orecchiette pasta a few days earlier and substituted the curly ones below. This was a mistake. I really think the orecchiette would have been so much better in this recipe. It was good but the flavor was small and covered up by the pasta.

This meal was very impressive to behold. It was worth every penny I spent on it to see the faces of my family when I served it. First of all I think anything with bacon gets the menfolk all glassy eyed and drooling and second it was beautiful. The colors were great together and I don't know when the last time was that my boys were giggling and jumping up and down about their dinner. My younger son was hugging me and saying thank you mommy for making this good food mommy. And it's not like they aren't used to really great food. They eat far better than most children do because both their parents like to cook. The excitement only intensified when they tasted the food. They each ate several helpings of the pasta and the melon salad and all were satisfied in the end.
This meal ended up taking more than an hour to make as well. I was feeling overwhelmed at the project and feeling like giving up by the time I had rescued my youngest from her 5th or 6th scrape/poopy diaper/brother you name it and it probably happened. Still one hour and 15 or 20 minutes is good for all the many things I had to do during it's preparation. I was thinking I bet Jamie Oliver doesn't cook with three little ones scrambling in and out of the kitchen and hanging around your legs. But, another day another meal and another chance to master the 30 min. meal.


  1. Hi Ashley,

    I know you posted this ages ago in February, but I just wanted to say thank you for describing some of these steps in making that meal.
    I bought the Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals quite some time ago, but we've been saving up for a decent food processor so that we could start making some of these meals.

    I want to work from the very beginning of the book, so I'm going to make this meal this week, and was hunting around to see what other people made of it, and any advice that could help me.

    I won't be making the melon salad though, as while I love melon, I don't eat pork related foods, and while my boyfriend eats bacon etc, he hates melon! So it wouldn't be worth doing that one :)

    Thanks again, it was great to read how you went about it. It's definitely not cheap!

  2. Thank you for your comment Sophie. I am so glad that it was helpful to you. I thought about doing the meals in order as well, but since they are categorized by pasta, chicken, lamb, seafood, fish etc... It can feel like you are eating the same things too often, so I started trying to mix it up and pick different recipes from different sections. Just something to consider if you start feeling like yu are eating too much pasta :) let me know how it goes.

  3. Ah good point - I didn't realise they were in sections like that... I thought they were ordered sort of by easiness - wrong!
    The broccoli one went badly - it took us a tremendous amount of time to do, and the final result wasn't that great for us.
    We tried the next one (Pregnant Jools' pasta), and that was really good!
    But now I know it's in sections of meal type, I think I'll stop making them in order now!