For many people, one of the biggest challenges and obstacles to cooking is fear. Food is expensive, finding the right ingredients and cooking them takes time and there's a certain level of defeat associated with a dish that doesn't come out like you expected.
But, like anything, cooking takes practice. You don't get better unless you step outside your comfort zone and get down and dirty. I saw an insightful entry earlier this week on TheKitchn. "[It's] not about following a recipe perfectly or never making a mistake; [it's] about trying something out and occasionally discovering that it didn’t quite work the way we expected." It's about having fun! Trying new things! Experimenting! As one commenter to the post aptly noted, the worst case scenario is.... you order a pizza that night.
Conversely, there's a certain level of pride associated with tweaking a recipe to make it your own and loving the results. Which is what happened with me recently when I made this mediterranean mushroom casserole. I loved the idea of stuffed mushrooms via Aggie's Kitchen, but didn't quite have all the ingredients needed. So I adapted a little based on what I did have, and voila! We have a delicious, easy weeknight meal that we can enjoy again. One that we wouldn't have had if I hadn't experimented just a little bit.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 (8 oz.) package whole mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz. Hot Italian sausage, casing removed and broken up
1 tsp. Greek seasoning*
1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped (garnish, optional)
1 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. olive oil
3/4 c. uncooked couscous
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a small casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. olive oil, salt and uncooked couscous and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, red pepper, onion, sausage and garlic. Season with Greek seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add cooked couscous and feta cheese; stir to combine.
Pour mixture into the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until Parmesan is melted and topping is browned. Spoon onto plates and garnish with fresh parsley.
*Greek seasoning recipe (adapted from AllRecipes)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. onion salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper