The Cooking Chronicles: The Art of Balance

I’m not sure what it’s been, but if you don’t count experiments with our new barbecue, we haven’t really been trying out as many new recipes as of late. I think part of it has to do with summer – we’re doing our best to take in as many festivals as we can so we’ve ended up falling back on recipes we know and love.

Anyway, two new dishes we made recently were both pretty well-received, and exemplified the need to balance between recipes you want to make all the time and recipes you should make more often.

Pastitsio

I saw a brief clip of Ina Garten putting together pastitsio, a Greek-influenced baked pasta (while at the dentist of all places!), and was sure it would be a dish Mack would enjoy. But then again, like bacon, it would be hard for him to pass up a cheesy, sauce-entwined casserole.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio

Pastitsio

One bowl was enough

My only grievance with the dish is the length of time it took to make from start to finish – about two and a half hours. Between the meat sauce (we used beef all the way through), béchamel, and baking time, it’s definitely something you had to plan for. On the plus side, we had leftovers for days!

Quinoa-Veggie Burgers

I was immediately attracted to the quinoa-veggie burgers pictured on the July 2011 edition of Chatelaine. On a day where I wanted anything but a heavy meal, it was the perfect dish to make. Mack’s biggest problem with the dish was its name. To him, the word “burger” connotes meat, and bread. This recipe features neither, being both vegetarian and gluten free.

The patty was comprised of sautéed vegetables, quinoa, egg, cornstarch and seasonings, and came together quite quickly. I also loved the technique of pressing the mixture together into a measuring cup – overturned into the pan, perfectly circular patties were formed once the mounds were pressed down.

Quinoa-veggie burger

Quinoa-veggie burger

I loved the crunch – both from being pan-fried and the inherent texture of the quinoa. Instead of the mushroom base though, I would have actually preferred a bun. Roasted tomatoes (as recommended in the recipe) would have been a great addition, as would have been the tahini sauce, also recommended.

Mack’s verdict? Besides the fact that it shouldn’t have been called a burger, he liked it enough to say we should make it again! How’s that for a coup?