Our friend Andrea came over for dinner recently, and she requested the kale salad and the eggplant and three cheese calzone from the smitten kitchen cookbook project! It was a successful evening of good food and good conversation.
Kale salad with cherries and pecans: I completely forgot to get pecans at the store, so I polled my dinnermates and asked if they preferred almonds or walnuts as a replacement, and almonds were chosen. Also, I didn’t realize that I was out of honey, so I had to substitute light agave for the honey in the salad dressing. Both turned out to be worthy substitutes, as the salad was super tasty and satisfying.
What worked: Everything! This was a super easy and lovely accompaniment to our overall dinner. I’m sure this salad would be great as a main dish as well. I’ve never been known to choose a honey mustard-type dressing, but this dressing was perfectly balanced. I would definitely make sure to follow Deb’s suggestion to dress the salad and then let it sit for 20 minutes before eating – I dressed the salad once I put the calzone in the oven, so the timing was perfect.
What didn’t work: Nothing wrong here!
Would I make it again?: Absolutely!
Rushed pizza dough: I had been planning to make the leisurely pizza dough before I left for work that morning, but then I forgot. That is my story.
What worked: This dough was tasty and worked perfectly for the three cheese and eggplant calzone.
What didn’t work: After mixing the ingredients together based on the recipe proportions, my dough definitely did not have enough liquid, and would not come together enough to knead. I added an additional splash of water, and all was well. Also, the dough definitely had not doubled in size after 30 minutes of rising time, and still had not quite doubled an additional 30 minutes after that. As a result, the dough took a little extra time to roll out – I had to take a couple of brief breaks to let the dough rest before rolling to the directed size. However, as noted above, the end result was really tasty.
Would I make it again?: Yes. I want to see if I have the same rising issues, and also wanted to try as the base for an actual pizza and see how it goes.
Eggplant and three cheese calzone: My husband and I both don’t especially like eggplant, finding it too fleshy and strange, especially when not prepared well – so I was a little skeptical about this one. Having said that, the preparation of the eggplant for this recipe (roasting before adding to the calzone) was perfect, and this calzone was just delicious.
What worked: As noted above, roasting the eggplant beforehand proved to be a genius move. The eggplant and the cheese melded together amazingly, and the simple tomato sauce prepared separately and served as a condiment to the calzone (as opposed to baked into the calzone) proved to be a perfect accompaniment.
What didn’t work: For the tomato sauce piece of the recipe, I interpreted “strained tomatoes” as whole peeled canned tomatoes, strained of any extra sauce, but this turned out to be incorrect. After simmering and crushing a bit with a fork, the tomatoes were still whole, so I pureed the mixture with my immersion blender, and all was well. I still don’t really know what “strained tomatoes” means though.
Would I make it again?: Most definitely, especially to feed multiple people easily!