Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Presto Pasta Nights - Rachel Ray vs Sandra Lee

I thought I'd do something a little different for Presto Pasta Night this week. I've picked two pasta recipes by two Food Network cooks and have pitted them against each other!

First up we have Rachel Ray. I am not really a "Rachel" person, but have no strong feelings one way or another about her. I prefer to not watch her on TV, but Scott has occasionally bought me her magazines and I've found a few mighty tasty recipes in them. Last year I received a Rachel Ray cookbook for my birthday. We've had a couple of not so great dishes from the book, but some nice ones too.

Her competitor today is Sandra Lee. I had never heard of Sandra Lee before last year when I read various negative comments about her on some blogs. (Her shows are not shown on the Food Network here in Canada.) Earlier this year Anthony Bourdain bashed her and other Food Network cooks quite harshly. I used to love him, but lately it doesn't seem like he does anything but be a snarky jerk. I have enough snarky jerks in my life, thanks. Anyway, when we were in Maui earlier this year I saw two episodes of her show. It wasn't fantastic, but I don't remember it as being God-awful either.

And then I came across one of Sandra Lee's books at the library. Smackdown time!

Let's start with Rachel Ray. From 30 Minute Get Real Meals we prepared Cauliflower-Pumpkin Pasta.

I was hesitant to make this pasta because I don't like pumpkin. But Scott does, so we went with it. This took longer than 30 minutes (I forgot to set my timer), but was very nice. Who knew pasta and pumpkin were such a good match? This was quite rich for me. If I made this again I would do smaller portions along a big green salad.

From Sandra Lee Semi Homemade Cooking 2 we chose Angel Hair with Roasted Red Peppers, Feta and Herb Dressing.

This was A-MAZ-ING. Faster than fast; the dressing is made and the other ingredients are de-canned or prepped while the pasta is cooking. It was easy, light tasting and delicious. This would be good in the summer when you don't want to be at the stove for too long, or any day that you just need a quick meal.

And the winner was..........Sandra Lee. While both pastas were tasty, Sandra pulled ahead with the faster cooking time and lighter tasting dish.

Angel Hair with Roasted Red Peppers, Feta and Herb Dressing
adapted from Sandra Lee Semi Homemade Cooking 2

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tb lemon juice
2 tb water
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
16 oz angel hair pasta
12 oz jar roasted red peppers
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water
6 oz crumbled feta cheese
2 1/2 oz can sliced black olives

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until tender.
Place the oil, herbs, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper in a jar. Shake until blended. Set aside.
Drain the red peppers and roughly chop. Drain the olives and set aside.
When the pasta is done, drain and place in a large bowl. Add the peppers, drained onion, feta and olives. Toss well. Pour over the dressing and toss again.

Cauliflower-Pumpkin Pasta
adapted from 30 Minute Get Real Meals

1 tb olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 lb linguine or fettuccine
1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling - that has spices and sugar in it)
1/4 cup non fat or 1% milk
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Saute the garlic in the oil for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the cauliflower and broth. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender.
Cook the pasta in salted water until done. Drain and reserve.
When the cauliflower is tender, turn up the heat and add the pumpkin puree and milk. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper, then add the drained pasta. Toss to coat, and serve.


Peabody said...

No, I must agree with Anthony on this one...SAndra Lee is the devil. Really. A little bit of vomit comes to my mouth when I see her.

Deborah said...

I am a Rachael fan - although I don't think her recipes take 30 minutes! I have fun timing each of them that I make - I actually did one in 34 minutes the other day and was quite proud of myself!! I do agree with you about Anthony Bourdain, though. Everyone seems to love him, but I start to feel anxious listening to him because he is so negative and acts like he is the kitchen God. Just my opinion, though....

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breadchick said...

I'm with Peabody on this one (and Anthony). I'm working from home today and on Food Network right now is Sandra Lee trying to tell me that if I cover an orange juice can with brocade paper and stick dried fruit on it, I have a centerpiece...

But, I will give the devil the due, of these two recipes, her's does sound better. I've never had a RR recipe turn out all that well.

Great Smackdown!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That is a really fun way to do a smackdown!
As far as Sandra and Anthony go, I guess it's best for me not to say anything.

Peter M said...

Tony Bourdain can be a D*&K but he's often right. As for your dishes, they both look like dishes I'd try...good show!

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daphne said...

hmm.. not sure if i have heard of both authors! i must be a little slow..

angel hair with roasted red peppers and feta.. oo.. that's a fantastic idea!! nice one!!!

Deborah Dowd said...

Both recipes sound really good, and I will probably try both. I know it is not fashionable, but i kind of like the campy style of Sandra Lee. And at the end of a long day, with so many things to cram into a short time, her semi-homemade concept is great.Plus she always features a cocktail with every menu (a woman after my own heart!)

Ruth Daniels said...

I love the post. I've never seen Sandra Lee, so obviously no comment, but I will try the dish. Thanks for sharing both with Presto Pasta Nights.

eatme_delicious said...

I haven't heard of Sandra Lee but your description of how good the dish was has convinced me to save the recipe! I was originally drawn to your post by the pumpkin cauliflower pasta though. I love both those things and don't eat nearly enough pumpkin so I must make this, perhaps this week! Excellent post. :)

Valli said...

I think the Sandra Lee recipe wins. Anything with feta cheese is a winner in my books. What a great idea to pit the two recipes together and have your own little challenge. Very creative !

Lis said...

I'm two days late.. and you've moved on to cinnamon rolls - but I have to add my own snark.

Sandra's concept is not a bad one.. any help that cuts time in making dinner after a hard day at work is usually greatly appreciated.


It's her boobs. They are always staring at me. It's like Sandra and Giada go shopping together to see who can find the lowest cut shirts.


It's the whole "tablescape" thing.. I just can't get into it.. it's too painful.. but please - tablescapes?


I find her pretentious and condescending. She's too froo-froo (yes I sounded that out) and I think The Martha would be highly offended at the way Sandra tries to emulate her (in a slutty way).

But yeah, that dish sounds great! Could you make Rachel's (I won't even comment on how I feel about Ray-Ray) a lil quicker by using frozen cauliflower?

Great smackdown!


Anonymous said...

i like boobs, feta, sluts, and bourdain. So I guess I'm a fan.

Ticia said...

That does look yummy. I agree Rachel Ray's 30 minute recipes are not really 30 minutes.