Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Something's (Vegetarian) Fishy

Mr. Toro is on his 4th consecutive day of being ill. He visited a physician yesterday, but they told him it was a (non-H1N1) flu so there was nothing to do but treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medication. So, it may be that I end up eating his lunch myself (again) but I still had fun making it.

Today's bento is another vegetarian (though not vegan) offering as there is a little cheese in the pasta dish.

The salad is a fairly standard mix of veggies, but with a little play value added with the 'fish.' Underneath is a bed of green leaf lettuce. The decoration on top consists of green onion 'kelp,' flat-leaf parsley 'seaweed,', and shredded carrot 'coral.' The 'fish' is leveled on some shaved cucumber, and is crafted out of oyster mushrooms with a slit cut for his gill and a cucumber seed for an eye.

In the other box is fettuccine with oyster mushrooms, leftover from dinner. I originally started with this recipe but made some changes.

I love Mario Batalli's cooking (Mr. Toro took me to Pizzeria Mozza last weekend--it was amazing), but, to be frank, I'd rather not wind up quite as round as he is :) So I made a few changes to lighten the recipe up. I left out the olive oil and instead sauteed the garlic with some cooking spray. Then I reduced the butter from four tablespoons to one. These changes surely made my version much less rich and luxurious, but as a daily dish, I'm okay with making that trade-off. Perhaps I would try the full-fat version for a special occasion.

Other changes were for convenience and availability of ingredients. I used sherry rather than vermouth as I had a bottle in the house. I also used flat-leaf parsley in place of the arugula as arugula was not available at the market. Finally, I used dry pasta rather than homemade. I know this will lend a different texture and flavor, but on a weeknight I just don't have the time or inclination to make pasta or bread from scratch. I also cut the pasta back to 1/2 pound (~225 gm) for four servings.

On the whole, I think it was pretty successful, though surely far removed from the original dish's flavor.

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