Earlier this week I saw an episode of Martha Stewart's (yeah I know) Everyday Food on PBS. She doesn't even appear on the show, except for little inserts, but rather she has an array of appropriately cosmopolitan soccer moms presenting and preparing the various recipes.
One of the dishes they prepared was a very simple recipe for Greek Pastitsio, often referred to as "Greek Lasagna," probably because it involves meat, pasta. cheese and baking.
I decided the next night to make it. I was a little skeptical going in, as it seemed rather simple spice-wise, but the blond domestic goddess working on this particular meal spoke so convincingly and adoringly about the ground lamb, and it LOOKED rather enticing, so I just buckled down and went shopping.
It was an incredibly easy dish to make. Only about 15-20 minutes of prep and cooking, then it was just a matter of waiting for it to bake.
(Arrggh.... 35 more minutes!!!)
So finally it was done. I let it sit for the recommended 15 minutes and then cut myself a serving and dug in.
It was very... subtle.
Not bad, by any means, but certainly not an explosion of taste. Kind of bland, really. I revised the recipe in my mind; should have used more salt, more tomato paste in addition to adding some fresh diced tomato, a sharper parmesan cheese and more cayenne (I had already increased it to two teaspoons). Also, perhaps, some nutmeg and balsamic along with the wine.
I had pretty much chalked it up to a learning experience when, a couple of hours later, my roommate Danny got home. I told him to help himself to some of the pastitsio if he wanted. I went back to working at the computer when I hear him exclaim, "This is great!"
I was like, "Really? I thought it was kind of bland."
He assured me it wasn't, so I went and grabbed a spoonful.
I was completely wrong about the recipe. It was GREAT. It had just needed more time for the spices and flavors to properly marry. The cinnamon had reached just the right level of fullness and it just filled the mouth and nostrils perfectly! I was rather astonished that such a simple recipe could produce such a full and robust taste.
I love foods, like the stew and chili, that you can just leave on the counter and know it'll just get better the next day.
Suffice it to say, lunch has been great this week.