Cooking for one is my most favourite and least favourite task in the kitchen. No I am not a person who cannot make up my mind. Cooking for one means I get to make and eat what I want, something which K doesn’t particularly care for (pasta) or even one of my not so successful experiments. Cooking for one also means that I will eat in solitude and that is not my favourite thing to do!
Last year, the one pot pasta recipe was a rage across the interwebs. Anyone who had access to the net and had one or more social networking account (from twitter to pinterest) was cooking a one pot pasta in a frenzy and marvelling at its convenience. I tried it too and the first time, it cooked itself into a flavourless gunk. I was so disappointed with the outcome that I almost cried. And that has not happened with me in a long time. I made the mistake of making it and serving it when we had guests. No one noticed because of the other dishes that were served, but I had a lot leftover which I sent to the freezer while I thought about salvaging it. Which I did a few days later, with a tonne of roasted vegetables, a layer of cheese and baked the gunk to resemble a casserole which I and amma ploughed through for a couple of meals! It would be a while before I attempted to cook this again I thought!
Today I was determined to get this right, and since I was cooking just for myself, I could quickly deal with the failure too incase that happened.
When making a one pot pasta, the thing to remember and work around, is the kind of pasta that is being used. I used an Indian brand of spaghetti made by Bambino. The label reads “made of durum wheat’ but I find that this cooks into a gunk if not stirred atleast 3-4 times while it is being cooked. Maybe using another shape of pasta wouldn’t need baby sitting. But this is not a show stopper for me. I mean, one cooking pot, dunk everything in and stand around the stove (playing candy crush in between stirs) for 10 minutes cannot be that off putting.
One Pot Spaghetti with Tomato and Mushrooms
(serves 2, Time Taken: Prep time – 5 minutes, Cooking time – 12 minutes)
Spaghetti - to serve 2 people (I eyeballed this, about 100 grams)
Onion – 1 medium, halved and sliced
Garlic pods – 2, sliced
Button Mushrooms – 1 cup, washed and quartered
Tomato – 1 large, chopped into 8-10 pieces
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper – to taste
Red Chilli Flakes – 1/2 teaspoon
Sugar – 1/4 teaspoon (the tomato I used was tart, skip if you are using sweet tomatoes)
a few sprigs of fresh basil
Cream Cheese – 2 teaspoons (optional but recommended or use grated cheese)
Slice the onion, mushroom, tomato and garlic. Fill a heavy bottomed cooking pot with 2 cups of water.
Add all the ingredients except the cream cheese / cheese to the pot and stir well, bring this to a boil.
Cook on medium high heat, stirring every 2 minutes for about 8-10 minutes or till the pasta is cooked.
The water would have reduced and the starch from the pasta along with the other ingredients makes a nice light sauce. Check for salt and adjust if needed.
Stir in the cream cheese/ grated cheese, give it a nice mix and spoon out into bowls. Garnish with a sprig of basil and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve hot.
Last year, I attended a cooking demonstration at an Italian restaurant. One of the most valuable tips the chef gave us was to fry thinly sliced garlic in olive oil and stock it to use as a flavour enhancer in recipes. Added to the most simple soups, salads or even pasta, the fried garlic and the infused oil, gives the dish an intense burst of flavour. I used a teaspoon of this oil to drizzle on my pasta. It was terrific even if I say so myself!