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Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

I was feeling terribly hungry in the morning and  I was craving for something that was cheesy and heavy and delicious. To be very precise I was craving for the decadent cheesy pastas I used to make for dinner when I was still studying. Of late, I have been skipping cheese from the pastas I make – it almost always an olive oil based sauce or a salad. I have been feeling very deprived, although I do use cheese for many other dishes, given the fact that I actually love love love cheese of any kind so much! 

My excitement with baking this super cheesy baked farfalle was only slightly dampened when my other half looked at it and said, “Oh, its for the recipe marathon, isn’t it?”.  Errr, not really, its for me and my bulging yet hungry belly, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to post it on the blog. 

So here’s a super cheesy baked pasta with roasted vegetables. 

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Makes – 2-3 portions

Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Pasta – 2 cups (Farfalle or Penne)
  • Water – 4 cups
  • Sea Salt – 1 tsp
  • Milk – 2 cups
  • Cornflour – 2 tbsp
  • Oregano – 2 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli flakes – 2 tsp
  • Garlic – 3-4 cloves (finely chopped)
  • Vegetables (tomatoes, onions, brinjals, peppers) – 3 cups (cut into ciruclar rings or quartered) 
  • Cheddar Cheese – 50 gms (grated)
  • Mozarella Cheese – 50 gms (grated)
  • Butter – 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

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Method

  1. Grase a baking tin. Toss the vegetables in some butter, tranfer to baking tray and roast at 220 C for 25 minutes, turning once in between, until the vegetables are soft and roasted. 
  2. Mix milk with corn flour and set aside. Heat some butter in a pan and saute the finely chopped garlic and chilli flakes on a medium heat until garlic turns golden.  Stir the milk with cornflour and add to this. Add salt and oregano. Stir on a medium flame until the sauce thickens a bit but is still of pouring consistency. Add all of the cheddar and half of the mozarella, stir for 30 seconds and take off flame.  
  3. Bring water to a boil. Add sea salt and pasta. Cook pasta for 5-6 minutes. Pasta should not be cooked fully and should be taken out a minute before it reaches the al dente state.  Drain the pasta and reserve about 1/4 of a cup of the water. 
  4. Toss cooked pasta, the prepared  sauce and roasted vegetables together. Add some of the reserved water if the sauce seems too thick. Transfer to a deep baking dish. Top with the remaining mozarella and butter. Sprinkle oregano on top.
  5. Bake at 200 C for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden. 

Serve hot or chilled in the fridge. 

Baked Pasta (Farfalle with roasted vegetables) – for the Recipe Marathon

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Fellow recipe marathoners:

DKSiriSrivalliRanjiPJCurry LeafMedhaPriyaBhawnaRaajiRuchii
AnuKamalaRoopaDivya KuduaRekhaDivya MRaagaLakshmi VenkateshSripriyaViji, , Kamalika,Pavani, RoochiKaruna

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If boiling water and preparing tea don’t count, then you can say pasta is my first ever kitchen experiment. In fact it was the only other dish (apart from stuffed baked potatoes) that I’d prepare on my own almost everyday as an evening snack when I was in college. Yes, you heard it right – an evening snack that served as a one of kind occasion for brother-sister bonding when we’d indulge in the sheer richness and flavour of pastas.

Cooking Pasta is like cooking sadam (rice) – a seemingly simple culinary task that can become quite difficult to master given the long list of criteria for that perfect bite of pasta.

I’ve had my share of “Al Dente” mishaps on a couple of occasions. The first one was when the time I tried Fusilli – I undercooked these interesting worms and tossed them in sauce in my over enthusiasm. Thankfully a few minutes in the microwave fixed the pasta. The second one was the first time I cooked fresh lasagna sheets. It was difficult to distinguish the vegetables. There wasn’t much to salvage this time.

Pasta that is cooked “Al dente”, literally meaning “to the tooth”, is soft but holds shape, chewy but not brittle and well separated but starchy enough for the sauce to stick. Over the several times that I’ve cooked pasta, I’ve acquired the practice enough to confidently prepare “Al Dente” pasta even in the middle of the night.

Method

  1. Take water in a large bring the water to boil. About 4-5 times the amount of pasta is a good measure of how much water one needs. I use 1 litre for 250 gms of spaghetti and some more if its penne or fussili.
  2. Add Salt to the water. About 2 tsp for 250 gms is the amount of salt I use. Not all of the salt will show on the pasta.
  3. Add the pasta to the pot. Drop the pasta in slowly. Lower the heat to medium once pasta has been added. Keep the heat between medium to high. Water needs to be at a heat that keeps it just about agitated to keep the pasta separate, but does not necessarily need to be bubbling.
  4. For the first two minutes stir the Pasta a few times. You can decrease the frequency of stirring after this. In general if you’ve used enough water and if you’re keeping the water at the right temperature, the pasta is not likely to stick to the pot very easily.
  5. Take a piece of pasta and slice and check if it has a white core a couple of minutes before the pasta is fully cooked. For dried pasta one should generally check at the 4th minute for thin spaghetti, the 5th or 6th minute for Penne and about the 8th or 9th minute for Fusilli.
  6. Cook for a minute more and check if the white core has disappeared. Taste the pasta. If it sticks to the back of your teeth, you can safely cook for an additional minute. Alternatively you can remove the pasta at this stage if this is your preferred chewiness level or if you’re going to toss this in a really hot sauce. For most Olive Oil based sauces, its preferable to have the pasta cooked till it doesn’t stick to your teeth.
  7. Drain the water immediately by pouring into a colander. Shake colander to drain water. Retain some of the water for non tomato based sauces. Reserve some of the water if the recipe calls for it. Toss pasta in sauce.

Notes:

  1. Many people add oil to the water while cooking pasta. I used to  do this on a chef’s recommendation but discontinued after sometime. Oil makes the pasta slippery and I found the amount of sauce that sticks especially to spaghetti can be unsatisfactory.
  2. Many people wash pasta after its been cooked to keep the pasta separate. If you have your sauce ready before the pasta is cooked, which you should, its pointless to wash the pasta. Washing pasta again reduces the amount of sauce that gets transferred onto the pasta and hinders the overall flavour. For sauces like Pesto, retaining some of the water in the pasta without shaking it all off through the colander should help you toss the pasta in without the pasta looking sticky. Adding olive oil or a teaspoon of butter while adding the pasta to sauce also works. In short, keep your sauce ready, don’t make your pasta go cold.

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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A couple of random facts before I begin with the recipe:

  • I modified the traditional version with locally available ingredients (read my kitchen) and also because the original can have very strong flavours that doesn’t suit some pallettes
  • This is pasta with no cheese for me, though when you do a google you’re sure to find some recipes that serve this with parmesan cheese. I believe that the recipe is best eaten without cheese.

Here’s the recipe:

Prepation time: a few minutes, Cooking time: 10 minutes, Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a pound of pasta (usually spaghetti or linguine is used in original, approx 200-250 grams)
  • 1 clove garlic (the traditional uses 1 clove per person approx)
  • 2 tsp chilli peppers
  • 6 twigs of Fresh Coriander Leaves (original always uses flat leave parsley)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Preparation

1. Mince the garlic into tiny cubes. Do not crush using a mortar. The garlic flakes add to the taste.

2. Wash the fresh coriander leaves and roughly chop.

3. If you dont have red chilli peppers, fry two red chillies into little oil and crush to get flakes.

Method

1. Boil water with sea salt. Add the pasta when it reaches boiling point and cook until “al dente“. My check for “al dente” is to cut a small piece of pasta and see if the inside still has a white line.

2 . Drain in a colander.

3. In a large frying pan, saute the garlic on a medium flame with the olive oil. When it turns golden add the chilli pepper. After a few seconds when the garlic starts to brown, add the coriander. The garlic needs to brown but not burn, what you need to get is biscuit like flakes. Also be careful when you put in the coriander leaves, because the heat of the oil by this time will cause it to crackle.

4. Turn off the heat in a couple of seconds.

5. Add the cooked pasta to this sauce and transfer to serving bowl.

I served this pasta with this recipe of Radish Leaves mixed with Curd.

Some tips:

1. Make the garlic and oil sauce while the water is boiling or pasta is cooking. Tranferring the “al dente” pasta immediately to the sauce is always a good idea.

2. Reserve about 1/4 th of a cup of water while draining the pasta. You can add this in if you find the pasta too dry for your taste.

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