Another “30-minute” meal

I’m a big fan of Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals cookbooks. I own four of them. In case anyone is unfamiliar with these (or the accompanying TV show on the Food Network), the premise (not surprisingly) is that each meal can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Ideal for busy people, coming home late after a long day’s work….

The problem is that it is a rare and remarkable day upon which I manage to cook a Rachael Ray recipe in less than 30 minutes. They’re good recipes, creative and interesting. But 30-Minute Meals? Not so much.

For instance. Tonight. Eggplant Subs a la Norma, page 57 of her 2007 cookbook Just in Time. This consists of toasted sub rolls topped with grilled eggplant, raw tomato sauce and crumbled ricotta salata cheese. I started this recipe at 7:30 p.m., and it wasn’t until 8:26 p.m. that I was finally assembling my sub from the prepared components. Was it delicious? Absolutely! Was it worth the time I spent preparing it? Yes, because there’s enough filling for 6 subs,* which works out to 9.3 minutes per meal (though only if you’re cooking for yourself). But it took 56 minutes.**

(In case anyone is curious, I rounded out the meal with Greek salad and finished with sliced strawberries tossed with a bit of sugar. I suppose that a salad containing tomatoes and feta cheese is an odd choice to accompany an entree that contains tomatoes and a very similar white crumbly cheese. But Greek salad ingredients happened to be what I had on hand.)

* Another thing about Rachael Ray’s cookbooks: most of the recipes are purported to serve 4 (and the one I cooked tonight is no exception), but that’s only true if the 4 you’re serving are all linebackers. I’ve occasionally gotten 8 servings out of a Rachael Ray recipe.

** Technically, I started cooking dinner at 7:15, and it took 1 hour and 11 minutes, but I decided it wasn’t fair to count the time I spent preparing the charcoal grill (and sweeping spilled charcoal dust off the rear walkway), since Rachael Ray probably used a gas grill.

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7 Responses to Another “30-minute” meal

  1. Heide says:

    I just bought 2 slow cooker books and one 30 minute meal one. I have tried two slow cooker receipes (I liked them but better not ask dad, you know how much he loves something different) and one of the 30 minute ones ( it actually only took about 30 min, but some people tend to take a long time doing anything… when they play scrabble)

  2. Kristin says:

    Very funny! Some people just want to make sure they have the best possible word, you know. I seem to remember that the slow person won, last time we played Scrabble together. 🙂

    Was it a Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meal cookbook, though? Because there are some other quick recipe cookbooks that actually do take around 30 minutes. There’s one that the Vancouver Sun put out a number of years ago, and one from America’s Test Kitchen (the same people who do that big cookbook I bought for Pa).

    If it was a Rachael Ray cookbook, I’d be curious as to which recipe it was. Also, I’m not sure I’m going to believe that it actually took 30 minutes unless I see the start and finish times.

    (Heide is my mom, just on the very remote chance that anyone who doesn’t know that happens to read this, and wonders why I’m taking such an antagonistic tone with the comments on my blog.)

  3. Heide says:

    It was one of the “Company’s Coming” cookbook, peacan crusted baked chicken breast.

  4. Kristin says:

    That sounds really good! I don’t have any of the Company’s Coming cookbooks. Oh, wait, I might have the chocolate desserts one. But it makes no claim as to the 30-minuteness of the recipes.

  5. Jessica says:

    Interesting to know you use Rachel Ray cookbooks. All I know about her is from watching 1 minute of her show (she irritated me) and that she likes Duncan Donuts. So, I’ve always avoided her products. But if you like the cookbooks, maybe I’ll check one out sometime when I feel up to cooking (been really unwell recently).

  6. Kristin says:

    Sorry to hear that you haven’t been well!

    Yeah, I find Rachael Ray’s TV show pretty unwatchable. I discovered the cookbooks separately though; I think I was searching the cookbooks section on Amazon for quick recipe cookbooks, and those came up, so I put a few on my wishlist. Once I actually tried cooking from them, I was surprised by how good the recipes are. A lot of people familiar only with the television show assume that the cookbooks can’t possibly be any good.

    They’re not as good as the America’s Test Kitchen books, though, in my opinion (ATK also gives more realistic estimates of how long a recipe will take). I also like the Moosewood cookbooks a lot. Though I’m not a vegetarian, so they don’t fulfil all my cooking needs.

  7. Lisa says:

    You should try a slow cooker, like Mom uses. You can put everything in it before going to work and then come home and eat. I find slow-cooked meals are the least stressful way to eat at a reasonable time.

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