Category Archives: Pasta

“uuum, it’s delicious !!” Pasta, in a Broccoli and Cream Sauce

It seems that exciting new possibilities may emerge at work; after that already pleasing start to my week, the day seemed to go even better as I managed to leave work – unusually so, given the consecutive late evenings of recent times – at the very decent hour of 6pm, so I was able to sit in the park and watch the girls for about ten minutes before we got  home.

The icing on that metaphorical cake was the reaction, as in the title of this post, from Indira when I asked the girls to taste the pasta I’ve just finished making for their school lunch for tomorrow. Noor likes it a lot too, so I am relieved and delighted that I went with my gut feel and decided to follow the impulsive idea I had this evening that it was time to try a completely new pasta recipe.

I ordered a head of broccoli from the local grocer yesterday, with the vague idea of using it in a salad. But I’m quite bored now of the usual broccoli-corn-tomato/carrot/red bell-pepper salad that I make most of the time to eat on the side with pasta, so decided instead, on a whim, to search online for a recipe for pasta sauce that would use broccoli and cream. I’m not sure why I thought of cream, maybe it was because it’s been on my mind for some weeks to use the sun-dried tomatoes that have been sitting in the fridge for what feels like forever, and I have a vague memory of having eaten, long ago, pasta in a nice sauce that seemed to involve sun-dried tomatoes and cream.

The sauce I made tonight is a variation on a recipe I found here.

My version is as follows –

approx 300 gms of pasta, cooked in boiled and salted water

1 large head of broccoli, cut in to florets and steamed until just tender

3-4 tbsp of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine

5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced fine

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil

125 ml of fresh cream

Heat the oil and butter over a low flame till the butter just begins to soften, in the same pan in which you will have boiled the pasta. Add the garlic and the chopped onion and saute until  soft. Stir in the tomatoes, heat for a minute, then add the broccoli, season with sea salt, mix everything together and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Now add the cream, heat the mixture thoroughly, then add the pasta and toss well for 2-3 minutes so that it is well-coated with the sauce.

This is going to be a heavy dish, I can tell from the taste, but yummy too 🙂

A great fInd – Antonio Carluccio’s recipe for Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino

Browsing through the Google news page just now, an article I decided to read in The Independent  led serendipitously to this other article – about famed Italian chef Antonio Carluccio – that has this recipe too. This is one of my favorite ways to eat pasta and I’m delighted to be reminded of it, challenged as we are in India to find many of the pasta sauces we used to buy in France.

I’ve taken to making a couple of basic kinds at home now – pesto, tomato and basil – and rarely buy pasta sauce any more. So this one will be a great addition to that repertoire.

The girls will love it, I’m sure. They like their pasta kept simple any way, and like it with just some olive oil. Their tolerance for chilli has gone up in recent times too.  And they watched an episode of Master Chef Australia – that show is their current favorite thing to watch on TV -some time back that featured Antonio Carulccio so it is sure to interest them that this is his recipe.

Here’s how he tells it –

Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli)

Serves 2

This is probably one of the most popular recipes for native Italians. They like to eat it at any time, but it’s probably the prime dish to be eaten for a midnight feast, when they arrive home late and hungry. It takes only about 6 to 7 minutes to cook the pasta, while the “sauce” is ready in less than half that time. You don’t even have to grate any Parmesan, as the pasta is better without.

180g/6oz spaghetti or linguine
6 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 small chilli (the strength is up to you), finely chopped, with seeds

Put plenty of water in a saucepan, add salt, bring to boil and throw in the pasta. Stir, then cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until nearly done.

Now start the sauce by heating the olive oil gently in a deep frying pan.

Fry the garlic and chilli for a few seconds, or until the garlic starts to change colour, taking care not to burn it.

The pasta will be ready and al dente in those few minutes. Drain it well and put in the pan with the “sauce”, adding a little salt and perhaps 1 to 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Stir a couple of times and serve (without Parmesan).

For those who think this is too simple, you could add a further burst of flavour by including a couple of anchovy fillets. Fry them along with the garlic and chilli, and they will melt into the oil. You could add a teaspoon of tiny capers too, if you like, or some very finely cubed green olives. Or, at the end, you could grate some bottarga (dried and salted tuna or grey mullet roe) over the top of each portion.

Penne al Pesto

I had frozen some of the pesto the girls and I made a few weeks ago so dinner today was easy to put together – a quick pasta dish to accompany a chicken and vegetable soup.

Penne al Pesto

200 gms of whole wheat penne, cooked and drained

A few tablespoons (4 or 5, or to taste) of pesto

1 or 2 tablespoons of lightly roasted pine nuts, lightly roasted (optional)

Combine the pasta and the pesto and garnish, if you like, with pine nuts.

Spaghetti with Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I made this today  from “The Best of Italy”, one of my favorite cookbooks.

Noor loved this, as did I.  Indira, who seems to have gone off lamb recently, liked the sauce but not the meatballs.

So I’ll wait some months now before I make it again.

Spaghetti with Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

330 gms of boneless lamb (this makes about 16 balls)

1 teaspoon of fresh, chopped rosemary (the original recipe uses parsley, but I didn’t have that so I used rosemary instead)

1 egg yolk

Pasta Salad with Broccoli,Red Bell Pepper and Feta Cheese

I remember that the Italian husband of one of Shri’s colleagues brought a delicious pasta salad, that had feta cheese in it, to a barbeque last summer.

So when I made pasta salad for lunch today, I made it like that one, which had no sauce. The girls were  therefore not too excited when they saw their plates at lunch especially since I had added broccoli to the salad ; some “Pesto Rosso” (a Barilla sauce they adore) would have helped make that vegetable more appealing, I guess.

But despite the broccoli – which, to be fair, they have been eating more easily recently – they ate without fuss or too much comment and I really appreciated that. And hopefully the Feta cheese made it a little better at least for Indira.

I did think that the dressing of olive oil, lime juice and dried basil flakes left the salad somewhat bland. So I added chilli-infused oil to my portion and that certainly gave it a nice kick and flavor. So I would probably add chilli flakes to the dressing if I make this salad again. I think it would bring alive both the Feta cheese and the broccoli.

150-200 grams of pasta

200 grams of broccoli florets, cut in to smaller portions

1 small can of sweet corn, drained

200 grams of feta cheese, cut in to little squares

olive oil

lime juice

1 red bell pepper, sliced fine

salt, dried basil flakes and chilli flakes to taste

Pretty Pasta Salad !

This is a personal favorite, one that I would love to make more often except I know that the rest of them prefer their pasta with sauce – unless it is au nature, with just some olive oil, which is the way the girls love it.

But they eat this without fuss as well, though with a lot of Parmesan cheese grated on top.

When I made it a few days ago the salad looked so pretty, sitting there so full of color, that I just had to take a picture, much to Indira’s amusement.

pastatroutwheatberries 007

Pasta Salad

There is enough here for 6.

Tricolor pasta, preferably the whole wheat kind – 200 gms (dry weight)

one large orange bell pepper, sliced quite fine

3 tomatoes, diced in to chunks

1 can of sweet corn (drained weight 140 grams)

some salad leaves, any kind (green as well as the ones with some  purple as they add so much color)

salt and dried basil to taste

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice for the dressing

Cook the pasta till it is done. In the meanwhile, assemble all the other ingredients except the salad leaves, season with salt and basil, pour the olive oil and lime juice evenly all over and toss everything well. When the pasta is done, drain and then cool it a little, before mixing it well with the other ingredients. Now add the salad leaves, and toss the salad a couple of times and leave it to rest for a while so that all the flavors mingle.

I love to eat this dish with a little drizzle of chilli-flavored oil and some freshly grated Parmesan.

This salad is a good picnic meal as well, like the wheat berry salad.