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Category Archives: pasta/noodles

Cooking with Relics ~ Spaghetti with Basil Walnut Pesto Recipe

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Yesterday we got back from a short trip to Madanapalle a town on the Andhra Karnataka border and Bangalore.

My cousinP’s son was baptised in the native place of his paternal grandparents and i got to be his God mother. I was present in the labour room at the time of his birth, coaching his mother through a really painful delivery. So it seems that I did score some brownie points and his parents honoured me by asking me to be his God mother. So i got myself a son! err did i mention i was so scared myself that i thought i would faint? i did appear to be the pillar of strength tho… i told you i was a good actress!

The small town church was all festooned up for Rohan Joshua and he did ofcourse yell his lungs out when the priest took him in his arms… but other than that it was all delightful. Complete with a traditional meal laid out on a banana leaf to celebrate afterwards (of which i do not have any pictures to share since i was so busy eating).

Coming back home is always a lovely thing, no matter how beautiful and enjoyable your trip is. the only thing is that the fridge is almost bare, sans the stuff that can make it through 4-5 days or however long you are planning to be away. Here comes the part where i believe nothing happens without good reason.  A few weeks ago, Nupur called out to us to see whats in the fridge, i felt she’d heard my voice karmically… turns out i am not the only hoarder… going by the response she’s had with comments. I did peek into my fridge and honestly, I am shocked! I am not shocked easily… but I am… Lets start with the freezer….from half used cartons of cream and coconut milk, dry fruit, pesto rolls (unbaked), cookie dough to 2 batches of basil pesto! Down in the fridge section, there are three kinds of jams, peanut butter and nutella… i am now going on a blanket ban of grocery purchasing till i get this stuff used up. Lets not even mention the dying veggies i throw out with alarming regularity.

I would have loved to do this the whole month long. cook from stuff i need to use up from the fridge/ pantry, but real life takes over, kicks my behind and leaves me breathless. Bringing us back to what I was saying. I stood there wondering what to make for lunch as I had only myself to feed. K went to work with a lunch of rice, dal and a bottle of beef pickle my mother sent back for him. (did I tell you they feel sad for him because i dont eat / cook meat anymore? no? this was part of the comfort package!)

readers of this blog are familiar with my love for pasta. And there isn’t an iota of doubt what i would cook for myself if I am eating alone. Digging out a box of frozen pesto I’d made a few months ago, i set it on the counter to thaw and had visions of the most satisfying lunch driving me nuts. There was a small piece of zucchini which also made its way into the pasta, and in less than 10 minutes, lunch was served.this pasta is off to Nupur who’s hosting BB4: Whats Lurking in the Kitchen. egads! just in time because i realised the last date is tomorrow.

Spaghetti with Basil and Walnut Pesto

see Nupur’s post here the recipe is originally from here

for the pesto (makes 1 cup)

4 packed cups of italian basil, stalks removed, leaves washed and drained on a kitchen towel (the original recipe calls for blanching, i skipped this step)

1/2 cup walnuts (the original uses pine nuts)

2 cloves of peeled garlic (adjust according to your preference)

1/3 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste (i omitted the pepper)

in a hot dry pan, toast the walnuts for 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently. Cool completely. Add all of the ingredients except the olive oil into a mixer jar and pulse till everything resembles finely chopped greens. if you are using a food processor, add the olive oil in a steady stream while continuing to pulse the pesto. i used a jar, so added a tablespoon at a time. check for texture and pulse a little more. The pesto can be frozen now for later use, or used immediately. If freezing, leave to defrost at room temperature for 15-20 mins or nuke in the microwave oven for 30 sec blasts till thawed.

for the spaghetti

2 tablespoons basil walnut pesto

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (remember the pesto has EVOO already, so go easy)

2 cups cooked spaghetti (or any other pasta of choice, cook with salt according to the instructions on the packet)

1/2 cup zucchini slivers

In a pan, heat the olive oil and toss in the zucchini slices. saute for a couple of minutes till they are wilting yet retain their crunch.

In another bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the pesto sauce and swirl it around till well coated. Add this to the sauteed zuchini and swirl some more till well incorporated. Check for salt and adjust as needed. Serve warm with a sprinkling of grated cheese or as is.

Thai Style Noodle Recipe

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Did I mention that I can eat noodles / spaghetti all the days of my life? No? well yes, I can….I cant seem to tire of any kind of noodles…In my pantry, pasta and noodles will never be out of stock…and when i saw these flat noodles by Bambino in the shelf of the supermarket, i had to pick it up. I didn’t want to make the regular chinese style and we’d just had sesame noodles, so i turned to the world wide web, which threw up so many kinds that i had a tough time deciding what to choose. I also had to remember i didnt have spring onions and french beans, which are general must haves when making something with noodles….anyways, i decided, thai style it would be… some recipes i looked at asked for peanut butter and that sad untouched bottle sitting inside my fridge almost jumped out with joy. I used whatever i had on hand and so no claims are being made here that this is anywhere close to authentic… but one hell of a tasty dinner it surely was….

Thai Style Noodles (Serves 2)

100 gms of flat noodles, cooked according to the instructions on the pack, rinsed in cold water and set aside.

1 cup of vegetables of choice, i used carrots (sliced into sticks), red bell pepper and mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced onion

1/2 cup skinned cucumber, cut into sticks

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves

1/2 cup roasted and skinned unsalted peanuts

for the sauce:

2 teaspoons peabut butter ( i used readymade from a jar)

2 tablespoons of oyster mushroom sauce

2 tablespoons of thai red chilli sauce

2 tablespoons of honey (or brown sugar)

1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1/4 cup of warm water

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

In a wok or kadai heat the sesame oil and add the garlic, fry till fragrant, but not yet changing colour. Add all the vegetables except the cucmber sticks) and stir and cook for 3 minutes on high flame till the carrots are half cooked. Add the cooked noodles and stir well to incorporate. Add the cucumber sticks, pour in the sauce and stir fry on high heat for a minute to mix well. Add the fresh coriander and stir till just wilting. turn off the heat. Spoon into bowls, garnish with roasted crushed peanuts, more coriander and a twist of lime if needed. Serve hot.

Recipe for Sesame Noodles and Vegetables in Manchurian Sauce

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My Mom’s with me for a few weeks and reader’s of this blog know, that i try and make something interesting and special while she’s visiting….. it is usually stuff that she really likes, like pav bhaji and dahi vada, or savoury muffins with cheese or recipes she wouldn’t cook/ make herself. Sesame noodles is something we tried at a restaurant in Hyderabad, when we helped fellow blogger N with the househunting she was doing…. i was skeptical when i saw a it looked too simple to be tasty…. it was different from the regular soft noodles as it didnt have any of the multi hued vegetables, just some green onions, and toasted sesame seeds, yet it was simple, full of flavour, not overpowering, and paired well with the spicy vegetable side dish we ordered.K loved it and kept talking about it a couple of times… i tried and recreated it from memory and was quite pleased with the result. I am not sure if this is the recipe the restaurant used, however, this version is very good too.

Amma loves chinese food almost as much I do so it was an easy choice and a few nights ago i decided to make Sesame noodles for our dinner. For the vegetable gravy, i took the easy route and made it with one of the ready made gravy mixes from knorr, instead of making the manchurian vegetable balls (which need to be deep fried and you know how much i try and avoid deep frying anything), i used assorted vegetables cut into bite sized pieces and i think i like this version better than the dumplings. Just saying…. that it may be a tad healthier too…. So if you are looking for something different and yet relatively easy to put together, try these recipes.

Sesame Noodles (serves 3)

time taken : 20 minutes

200 gms vegetable noodles, cooked according to the pack instructions, drained and set aside

3 Tablespoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted without oil till just changing colour

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 cup spring onions (onion leeks) finely chopped, white and green parts separated

In a wide wok or kadai, heat the sesame oil and add the minced garlic and white parts of the spring onions. Toss till the onions are translucent, add the green parts, reserving a little for the garnish and toss for a few seconds on high heat. Add the cooked and drained noodles and toss on high heat till the noodles are mixed well with the onion and garlic. Add the salt and pepper to taste and continue to toss, ensuring you dont break up the noodles too much. Add the toasted sesame seeds on top and garnish with the reserved leeks. Serve hot with a gravy side dish.

Vegetables in Manchurian Sauce

1 packet readymade manchurian sauce (dry) ( i used Knorr Chinese Make a Meal)

3 cups assorted vegetables – onions, broccoli, cauliflower, babycorn, french beans, mushrooms (you can also add carrots, cabbage, red/ yellow/ green bell peppers etc)

1 teaspoon red chilli sauce

3 cups water

blanch the vegetables (except the mushrooms) in hot water for about 2 minutes, drain and set aside. In a pan, add the 3 cups of water and all the contents of the of the readymade manchurian sauce. Mix well to remove lumps, bring to a boil and add all the vegetables  to the gravy. simmer gently for 2-3 minutes and add the chili sauce, check for seasoning. Do not add any salt or soya sauce, because the ready to make packet contains everything. when the gravy begins to thicken and the consistency is to your liking, take off the heat and garnish with a few spring onion leeks. Serve hot with fried rice or noodles.

Vegetarian Moussaka Recipe ~ Step by Step Pictures

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Two nights ago i was watching this travel cum cooking show on Travel and Living and saw this lovely lady making moussaka…. she had such a lilt in her voice and was so delighted to be showing how to make this famous greek / arab dish…. K and i looked at each other and he said to me…” I want to eat Moussaka” . This evening, when i was struck at 7 p.m with the question of “what to make for dinner?” i said to myself “Moussaka”. Well i threw in some elbow macaroni to make it a complete meal. So this is my version of vegetarian “Not Quite Moussaka”. This dish was cooked up with a minimum fuss. Its also the first time that i am cooking with fake mince otherwise called soya granules. I was very pleased with the result. This is the first time I’ve made something from a TV show…. try it, you will love it. The paneer in the bechemel sauce was lovely without being too heavy. Since i made many changes to the original recipe, i am not claiming any authenticity :D

I also fell all over myself and almost broke my camera trying to take pictures of the making of the moussaka so that i could post a step by step….. humour me… while i do this… cos it doenst look likely that i will go through all of this again! Oh and since making the bechemel sauce in itself is difficult to do with the whisking etc, i dont have a step by step of that…. kind of the wrong recipe to choose to do a step by step… but what the hell…. i cant waste all the pictures i took!!

I’ve been off the blogging world radar for way longer than i expected… was just mentioning to my namesake that i am not keeping track of any blog events or participating in them… this moussaka then, goes to JFI- Paneer, the event conceptualised by Indira, being hosted this month at The Spice Who loved me!!

ms1peel and slice the potatoes. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, if like K you cant stand too much olive oil, use any neutral vegetable oil. place the potato slices in a single layer and half cook them on both sides.

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Drain out any liquid from the brinjal slices and repeat the half cooking process in the remainder of the oil.Transfer to a plate.

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Cook pasta as per the instructions on the package. Plunge in cold water, drain and reserve.

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soya granules, soaked in 2 cups of hot boiling water

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add the olive oil, add the cinnamon stick, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry till transluscent. add the soya granules and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree, grated fresh tomato, cumin, salt and pepper and red chilli powder and cook till its almost dry.

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place a layer of potatoes at the bottom of a buttered baking dish.

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at this point, i realised i HAD to clean the counter of the clutter…. with one hand…

Cover the potatoes with a layer of the fried brinjals.

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Spread a layer of the cooked pasta. (i added this step to make this a full meal, omit if you are serving this with garlic bread on the side.)

ms9cover this with a layer of the soya ragu. ms10

evenly spread the bechemel sauce on top. ms13

Bake for 30 minutes in the hot oven, or till the top is browning slightly. ms11Leave to settle in the oven about 5-10 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and serve with a light salad on the side.

Here’s the full Recipe

(Serves 4-5 main courses)

8 slices of brinjal (1/4 inch slices of the large bharta variety)

10-12 slices peeled potato (1/4 inch thick)

1 cup of cooked pasta (i used elbow, rigatoni also would do)

Slice the brinjal into 1/4 inch thick pieces and sprinkle with a little salt, leave in a colander to drain about 30 minutes. peel and slice the potatoes. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, if like K you cant stand too much olive oil, use any neutral vegeatble oil. place the potato slices in a single layer and half cook them on both sides. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Drain out any liquid from the brinjal slices and repeat the half cooking process in the remainder of the oil.Transfer to a plate.

Cook pasta as per the instructions on the package. Plunge in cold water, drain and reserve.

for the ragu:

1 cup red onion, chopped fine

10-12 pods of garlic, chopped finely

1/2 cup of soya granules, soaked in 2 cups of hot boiling water

1 cup of tomato puree

1 inch stick of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon red chilli powder/ cayenne

1 ripe red tomato, grated

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

In the same skillet in which the potatoes and brinjal slices were fried, add the olive oil, add the cinnamon stick, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry till transluscent. add the soya granules and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree, grated fresh tomato, cumin, salt and pepper and red chilli powder and cook till its almost dry.

for the bechemel sauce:

2 tablespoons all purpose flour ( i used whole wheat)

11/2 cup milk (i used low fat)

1 cup of ricotta cheese (i used homemade grated paneer)

1/2 cup cheddar/ parmesan cheese (i omitted this)

2-3 tablespoons of plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and before it starts to brown, add the flour and saute till all the butter is absorbed. ensure neither the flour nor the butter gets burnt. this process needs your full attention. Add the milk, slowly using a whisk to ensure there are no lumps. add the salt and pepper to taste, while it is coming to a simmering point, add the cheese, grated paneer  and yogurt. Mix well. When the sauce has a custard like consistency (about 1-2 mins), turn off the heat. cool it a little before using for the layering.

To assemble the moussaka. butter a 8×8 inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. place a layer of potatoes at the bottom. over that, assemble a layer of the fried brinjals. cover this with a layer of the cooked pasta. i added this step to make this a full meal, omit if you are serving this with garlic bread on the side. cover this with a layer of the soya ragu. evenly spread the bechemel sauce on top. Bake for 30 minutes in the hot oven, or till the top is browning slightly. Leave to settle in the oven about 5-10 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and serve with a light salad on the side.

Recipe for a Macaroni Salad – With Mayonnaise

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Macaroni Salad

This is just one of those simple Pasta dishes that can be put together, when you need to feed yourself and/ or friends urgently, even at 2 a.m under the heavy influence of alcohol…. yeah its that easy. I made this one weekend afternoon when K and I were on a movie watching spree, and didn’t want to be interrupted for too long. And repeated this twice in less than 24 hrs on public demand!! This one was almost like the macaroni salad of Casa Picola that I talked of in this blog post. Minus the chicken of course.

Macaroni salad1

To make this fantastic Macaroni Salad (can be served warm or cold)

1 cup cooked elbow macaroni

1 cup finely chopped steamed veggies of choice (i used carrots, peas, sweet corn kernels)

1 cup skinned and chopped cucumbers (seeds removed) and tomato

freshly crushed pepper and salt to taste

1 Tbsp tomato sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese sweet red chilli sauce

4-5 drops Tabasco sauce

2 tbsp mayonnaise (i used eggless mayo)

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander and basil leaves

Method: heat 3 cups of water in a pan with 1/2 tsp oil and salt to taste. when it comes to a rolling boil, add the elbow macaroni and cook till cooked (about 4-5 mins) stirring frequently. Drain, run under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

while the macaroni is cooking, steam the finely chopped vegetables in the microwave for 2 minutes. If not using the microwave, add the vegetables to the boiling pasta 2 minutes before the pasta is done. Drain and set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients into a medium bowl, mix well, add the cooked macaroni and vegetables, mix well. Season with freshly crushed pepper and salt. Serve warm or at cold.

Back to the Pavilion and a Comforting Noodle Soup Recipe (using instant noodles)

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vacation

It was a superb impromptu vacation. To see a part of the country you didn’t know what to expect from. It was so wonderful and exciting, that i even forgot to fuss over turning a year older!! We had a lovely time, i came back with fabulous memories, a tonne of photographs, the joy of having met a dear friend and gratitude for my namesake who graciously opened her home to K and me. Also came back with severe sun burn (the skin on my neck is still peeling) and K is a little under the weather! I hope to blog about all the places we saw in a while. for now, let me just say, much as i had a fabulous time, coming back home after literally sleeping in a new bed each night was so wonderful!

For now, since K is down with a cold and little bit of fever post this hectic trip and the weather in Hyderabad has pleasantly cooled off to welcome the not so heavy rains, i decided to make a simple vegetable soup / broth with noodles. i never quite liked chicken soup even when i was a meat eater, preferring to have the vegetable version of it always. now that i am vegetarian, i am a little  amazed at the flavours the soup takes on. I’d like to feed this soup to all those people who think vegetables and particularly soup made from them will only be tasteless.

Noodle Soup

Noodle Soup

This is a real easy and simple soup and can be made with any veggies you may have at hand. Plus its kind of like and open and shut case. Just toss everything you need into a pot (I used a pressure cooker), let it all cook and simmer for 15-20 minutes while you go and refresh yourself after a hard day’s labour and dinner is ready!

Noodle Soup (Ingredients make for 2 Large servings)

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup ripe tomatoes, diced

1 cup vegetables of choice (i used florets of cauliflower and diced carrots)

21/2 cups water

salt to taste

1/2 tsp butter or olive oil

1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger and garlic

5-6 black peppercorns, crushed

6-7 fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 cup cooked noodles, i used the flat instant variety

method: heat the pressure pan and add the butter / olive oil. add the onions and other veggies and saute till the onions are just changing colour. add the ginger and garlic and saute another few seconds. add the tomatoes, water, crushed pepper and salt to taste. cover and cook till the vegetables are just cooked. i cooked it under pressure for one whistle.

open the cooker and check for seasoning. add the cooked noodles, add the chopped mint leaves and simmer about 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.

If you want more liquid and less noodles, adjust accordingly.

Recipe for a Quick Masala Noodles with Vegetables- My Favourite Version

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noodles

Its tough to find anyone who hasn’t had a quick fix meal of instant noodles. In India, Maggi is a generic name for instant noodles and the smallest town / village will have understood you if you ask for it at the grocers. I didn’t take to them till i left home and lived in a hostel! and any home sick person will vouch for the role instant noodles played in keeping them sane when the hostel food got more unbearable than usual!

my preferance for an instant noodle brand is Top Ramen, i find the texture much better, and the seasoning tastemaker isnt as overpoweringly salty like that of the other more famous brand. thankfully so does K and when and if we do buy instant noodles, we buy Top Ramen. i admit, i haven’t eaten as much instant noodles in the first one year after my wedding than i had in all my life put together. what with just setting up home, having no clue what kind of groceries to stock, keeping outrageous hours of work timings and being plain lazy at others, we ate instant noodles at the drop of a hat. after which i banned it from my grocery list for a few years and now its back to being an emergency food. Despite all said and done about how bad processed food is etc, it is a convenience to have some ready to eat / instant food on hand. a few weeks ago when i was a little out of action, K almost lived the entire week on instant noodles and swore he’d eaten enough for a lifetime!

a few nights ago, i had to make dinner to just feed myself and here’s what i made. i like to add vegetables to make it more nutritious and filling and here’s what i made.

noodles1

My Version of Instant Noodles

1 package instant noodles ( I used Top Ramen) Cooked in 3 cups of water (without the seasoning mix) till just done, drained and set aside.

1 1/2 C Vegetables of choice ( I used red, yellow and green capsicum, carrot, peas and onion in equal proportions)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 pkt instant noodle tastemaker / stock cube

in a pan, heat the oil and saute the vegetables (i added all at once), cover and cook for 2-3 minutes till cooked yet crunchy. add the taste maker seasoning / stock cube and 2 tablespoons of water and stir to combine well. Add the cooked noodles, mix well with the vegetables. Serve hot.

best enjoyed while spending a lazy weekend with a loved one, chilled beer and a movie.

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