Thursday, April 17, 2014

In the Trenches Plated Review: Ricotta Gnudi with Asparagus, Peas, and Mint

This is my first "in the trenches" Plated Review and boy did it not go well.  If this had been my first Plated experience, it may had been my last.  The idea seemed very appealing.  I had never heard of gnudi before but it looked like comfort food with an upscale twist.  Gnudi is a kind of pasta that is similar to gnocchi, but it is made with ricotta instead of potatoes.  The Plated website described this recipe as "easy" and they were way off.  But then again I signed up for this service because I have zero clue how to cook.

This is what I got for my $30 for two plates:
Yep, that's right they included actual pads of butter in the box like you would get at a lower level restaurant.  I wanted to laugh at the silliness of shipping such a small amount of butter but I didn't end up having any butter in my fridge so it was much appreciated that they included it.

I started mixing up my cheesy dough.  They wanted you to add zest from the lemon.  Come on, Plated recipe editors, I don't have a zesting tool.  I am getting my meal ingredients shipped to me via Fedex, why do you think I hang out at William Sonoma buying kitchen tools?  I don't even have a cheese grater.  It's sad but true and I think for those reasons I am the typical Plated customer because if I had all those tools or had any cooking knowledge I wouldn't be paying $15 per plate for something I have to cook and clean up myself.

It was at this point that something started to go terribly wrong.  I was supposed to mix in all the flour until the dough stopped being sticky.  That never happened.  The dough was a sticky mess that I was unable to form into the shapes they were asking me to.  There was no "rolling" this dough, so I did my best to form 4 equal ropes from it.

I soldiered on with my inaccurate gnudi even though it seemed like I was veering far from what Plated intended.  And I haven't even mentioned the mess this was making yet -there was flour everywhere and I had gnudi dough up to my wrists.  And I then I ended up with something that looks nothing like the recipe pictures:

Whatever, I tasted the dough and it still tasted good, so I figured I would run with my free-form gnudi. After I chopped all my vegetables and herbs, half an hour had passed since the start of the recipe.  Keep in mind, this recipe was only supposed to take 30-40 minutes and I was only halfway done.  I blanched my vegetables and boiled my gnudi.

My gnudi got even more blob-like and shapeless but they did not fall apart in the water and I was able to sautee them per the recipe.

The gnudi didn't turn out so bad but the recipe took more than twice the time they said it would and my kitchen was a mess afterwards.  I liked the taste of the gnudi but the overall plate was tarnished by the aggressive tarragon they put in the recipe.  I don't think I have had that much tarragon before and it made the meal taste woody and weird.  If I ever get tarragon in another Plated box, I will probably not add it. Here is my final product.

Final Results:
My Cook Time: 1 hour 18 minutes vs Plated Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Flavor: 2/5
       Herbs were overpowering and ruined the dish.
Skill Level Required: 5/5
        I didn't know what I was doing, this seemed like a very high level dish to make.
Portion Size: 5/5
        Lots of vegetables, which I usually love, but they were overpowered by tarragon.
Mess Level: 5/5
        2 pots, 1 large pan and all my prep cookware needed two dishwasher loads to clean.  I also got flour and dough everything.
Likely to Cook Again?: Absolutely not.  
        I like the idea of gnudi, so if I ever get the courage to try again, I will probably try this recipe.

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