Fun with Farfalle

Life is too short, and I’m Italian. I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero.
– Sophia Bush

Farfalle - Two ways

Farfalle – Two ways

We watch what we put in our mouth. Mostly. Usually. But there are times when we give into our cravings, and just run a little longer the next morning. With little Milee it’s one of her most favorite and convenient dinners. If by any chance you get to ask her what she would like to eat, pasta is her quickest reply.

Sadly, ironically, the cravings are more frequent than desired. Now you see, every week – is frequent. And even with the so-called whole grain and multigrain kinds available today I’m still a little weary, because I am not really sure of how much ‘whole grain’ is actually used to make the pasta. I guess my fears will rest only when I make the noodle at home…and that I don’t think I ever will! 🙂

Well, among the many different kinds available, each member of my mad family has his own particular favorite. Penne for the dad, spaghetti or angel hair for me, bow tie for Milee. No, I don’t spoil them by making their favorites each time. We take turns ;). So, this time, Farfalle or Bow tie it was!

Assorted Veggies and Thyme Bow Tie Pasta

Assorted Veggies and Thyme Bow Tie Pasta

I made mine a wee bit healthier, by eliminating the sauce, and sauteing with loads of veggies. Dried herbs like thyme and oregano were generously sprinkled and the cheese skipped.

Husband and Milee like the real deal, super creamy mixed sauce, along with a little bit of cheese! So yumm.

Creamy Mix Sauce Veggie Bow Tie

Creamy Mix Sauce Veggie Bow Tie

Milee pitched in with her with little hands, choosing the veggies, sprinkling herbs and salt – all the while chattering away incessantly. The babble only reduced when she sneaked in huge amount of boiled plain pasta into her mouth and soon when the cheese came out, the pasta was conveniently forgotten. Kids!

Recipes

Thyme Veggie Farfalle – No Butter, No Cheese, No sauce

Simple stir Fry

Simple stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 cup al dente boiled pasta, any kind.
  • 1 cup assorted veggies, sliced length wise. I used zucchini, colored peppers and mushrooms
  • 1 big onion, chopped roughly
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green chili-optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red chili flakes – according to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp thyme, I used dried.
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • Garnish – torn basil leaves

Method

In a wok, heat oil. Saute onions, garlic and green chili. Once a little pink. Throw in the other veggies. Sprinkle salt and stir fry on high. After a couple of minutes, the veggies would be almost done, then add the pasta, along with thyme and oregano, pepper and red chili flakes. Toss.

Serve garnished with torn basil leaves.

Best enjoyed with a crusty crunchy slice of bread and some light soup.

Look at all those colors!

Look at all those colors!

Mixed Sauce Creamy Veggie Farfalle

Creamy Yummy

Creamy Yummy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup al dente boiled pasta, any kind
  • 1/2 cup veggies
  • 3-4 tbsp pomodoro sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt pepper as per taste
  • red chili flakes as per taste
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning or mixed dried herbs
  • 1 tbsp butter or oil, I used butter
  • Garnish – parmesan cheese or even cheddar would do
  • Garnish – torn basil leaves

Method

In a wok, heat butter/olive oil. Throw in the bowl of veggies. Saute till half cooked. Now add the flour. Let it coat all the veggies, if it seems less, throw in more. Now slowly mix in the milk and stir all the while, till it starts bubbling away. The sauce should start to thicken now. To this, add in some pomodoro sauce. Merge it well. Sprinkle all the herbs, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Now add in the pasta. Toss. Sprinkle cheese and torn basil leaves.

Serve hot with toasted bread!

Note: The idea of putting in the veggies first, then the flour and finally the milk – to make white sauce is fool proof. The sauce comes out creamy always. No knots. No frantic stirring or mixing required, that you would normally do while making white sauce.

Note: Heavy milk or milk with some cream would naturally result in a creamier(read: yummier) sauce.

Caters to all taste buds

Caters to all taste buds

It is really your call to garnish with the right amount of cheese. You will know best how much is too much, but then again, will you? 😉

If someone ever tells you that you put too much parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them.
You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Beet-Walnut Pesto, Pink Penne Pesto Pasta and a Sandwich

Roasted Beet Garlic Pesto - no cheese

Roasted Beet Garlic Pesto – no cheese

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve been told to make my posts shorter and put one recipes at a time. But I still end up combining 2-3 dishes and presenting it to you. Ah! Pains of a stubborn unlearning mind.

Pink Penne in Pesto Sauce

Pink Penne in Pesto Sauce

I do have a reason for my repetitive obdurate intentional attempts of long posts – One recipe and its versatility. Like, the guacamole post showed that apart from the dip you could make a sandwich too or the garlic roasted potatoes make for a very good and filling wrap. Hence my loooong posts.

Fair enough? I know, NO. 😉 Well, I hope this post is one of the last few of the combined recipes posts!

Roasted Beets and Garlic

Roasted Beets and Garlic

Roasted Beets along with garlic, just rubbed with a little salt and olive oil makes a very very yummy eat!
I popped one in my mouth, and the flavor was fresh, juicy and succulent. I think, this, on its own is one great way to eat the root.
But – I saved the roasted way for another day, as now I craved for some gorgeous pasta.

Simple Flavourful

Simple Flavourful

This bookmarked recipe of mine was waiting to be tried and tested. With my little daughter in school, husband traveling and my sudden pasta yearnings, the day seemed perfect to experiment.
I slightly tweaked the recipe according to the ingredients available at hand and of course my mood.

Multipurpose Dip

Multipurpose Dip

Beet Walnut Pesto

To make a cup of pesto –

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized beets, washed, peeled and sliced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 walnut pieces, less than a handful
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime – varies according to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese – optional (I did not use any as I did not have at hand, still the pesto was yumm)

Method

Rub a little olive oil and salt on the sliced beets along with the garlic. Spread on a baking tray and bake at 175 C for 15 minutes or so, till all the juices are released and beets are soft. Alternatively, you could saute them in a frying pan with little olive oil.

Once cool, put the roasted veggies in a mixer, add parmesan, walnuts, lime juice and salt. Grind to a semi smooth paste. Use water if required. Add olive oil. Mix well. Use as required.

The verdict:

The color stuns you, the nutty taste lingers for long and the health quotient gives you enough reason to digg in for more. So with the pink pesto, some corn and fresh basil, I made magic with my Penne.

Basil and Corn  add to the magic

Basil and Corn add to the magic

Pink Penne Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 cup penne pasta or nay type of pasta – boiled al dente
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • a little butter or olive oil
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 tbsp beet pesto
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red chili flakes and oregano as per your taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped

Method

In a pan, heat oil or butter, saute corn. Once done, add flour to it. Let it coat the kernels. Mix in milk and keep stirring till the milk thickens. Now add salt, pepper, oregano, red chili flakes and pesto. Mix well. Stir in the penne. Then garnish with chopped basil leaves. Enjoy it hot!

How easy was that?

Note: Feel Free to add any veggies of your choice – broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, onions and pepper… list is endless.

Pesto n Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Pesto n Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Pesto Grilled Veggie Sandwich

I sautéed some thinly sliced veggies like onions, peppers, carrots and mushrooms, along with salt and pepper powder. Generously applied beet pesto to 2 slices of bread, placed the sautéed veggies and a slice of cheese on one pesto smeared bread. Covered it with the other bread. Grill with little olive oil or butter. Done!
Best Enjoyed with ketch up and hot sauce.

Nutty texture

Nutty texture

Ideas to add beet pesto to your food –

1. Pasta
2. Sandwiches
3. Wraps with cheese and veggies
4. As a dip with crudities or toasted bread or corn chips
5. on crostinis and on canapes.

If you can think of any other way, do drop a line.

Egg Free Vegetable Lasagne

Last time I made vegetable lasagne I put up a very enticing picture on FB, and teased friends and foodies to name the dish. But the spoiler was that I conveniently forgot to click the end result.
So no picture, hence no recipe, hence no post.
I should not have done that – according to my sister. First tempt with alluring sights, tickle the taste buds, and then leave them all high and dry. So not done.

Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable Lasagna

But fret no more.
Today dear sisters, friends and foodies, I bring you Vegetable Lasagne made with the same amount of love, excitement and fervor.
What I have here is a vegetarian version of this supremely delicious dish. Interleaving layers of pasta, marinara, sautéed veggies, spinach bechamel, cashew paneer sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano makes this pasta DIVINE and of course very fattening.

Ragu Rich

Ragu Rich

I made this dish with so much of soul, that I think if I had to have it on a regular basis, I would actually puncture my very own heart.
But you know nature is bountiful, caring and very concerned. The things that could damage you she makes them more difficult to obtain.

Making lasagne itself is not very arduous, but putting together all the contents is. So you will find yourself making it once in a while, but make it with a lot of love, butter and cheese. 🙂

Need a bite

Need a bite

Most Lasagne recipes have egg in them, so when I found a vegan veggie recipe I raced to save it.
Though not vegan, I have the vegetarianism intact here. An amazing amalgam of paneer, cashews, milk and olive oil, infused with garlic was a new for me. But it worked like no other. My good guess is this heavenly cashew-paneer sauce is an apt replacement for the egg. But I could be mistaken, so holler if you find me wrong.

The layering is a breeze and actually if you have a little helper around you, it can get fun too! The 6 year old hands that assisted me in the layering, were so darn careful and meticulous, that I had my eyebrows perennially raised.

Outdoor Lunch

Outdoor Lunch

Lasagne is basically layering once you have all the components ready. So, I am going to make it easy for you:

First, the individual components needed:

1. Pasta sheets, I used 8 square ones – to layer 4 times.
2. Ragu/marinara sauce/Pizza sauce
3. sautéed veggies – I used colored bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots
4. Spinach Bechamel/Spinach White sauce
5. Cashew-Paneer sauce
6. Loads of cheese – Mozarella or Parmigiano-Reggiano
7. Torn basil leaves – optional

Individual recipe to each follows after this:

Layering:

In a well greased baking pan, spread spoonful of marinara, then lay the pasta sheets so as to cover the pan properly. Now spread ragu/marinara again, topped with cashew paneer sauce, then layer the veggies, now the spinach bechamel, some cheese, drop a few basil leaves here and there. Now lay the pasta sheets again, and repeat all over again. End with a nice layer of cheese and bake at 180 C for 15-20 minutes or till the cheese melts and little brown spots appear.

So, in essence: Ragu–>pasta sheet–>ragu–>cashew paneer sauce–>veggies–>spinach bechamel–>cheese–> basil leaves–>pasta sheets–>ragu……

The layering

The layering

You don’t really have to follow any specific order, but when you have a guideline it simply helps. Feel free to experiment.

Now for the Individual recipes:

Boil the pasta sheets according to the instructions on the box. We like it al dente, but if you want you could cook them till nice and soft. A word of caution: advisable to drop in your sheets one by one into a pot of boiling hot water, laced with oil and salt. Using a fork, keep them from sticking to one another. Else you might have one sticky mess. Once done, remove the sheets from hot water, keep aside.

1. Ragu/Marinara:

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, saute 5-7 pounded garlic cloves, throw in a chopped onion. Saute till pink. Now add blanched 5-6 ripe red tomatoes, along with 3-4 dried red chilies. Stir in salt. Cover and forget about it for at least 20 minutes( actually give it a stir once in a while). Once the oil appears on the sides and the raw smell of tomatoes has vanished. Throw in 2 tsp of oregano, 1 tsp pepper powder. Run a hand blender through it, to get a slightly coarse sauce. You’re marinara is ready.

Marinara/Ragu

Marinara/Ragu

2. Sauteed Veggies:

In a wok, heat 1 tsp oil. Saute 1 cup sliced colored bell peppers, 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup sliced carrots and a few florets of broccoli. Once 3/4th done. Sprinkle pepper powder and salt. Keep aside.

3. Spinach Bechamel:

Bechamel is nothing but white sauce. To make this, heat 1 tsp butter, lightly saute 1 tbsp plain flour or whole wheat flour. Add a glass of milk, stir vigorously to avoid lumps. To this creamy sauce, add a cup full of chopped blanched spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Keep aside.

4. Cashew Paneer Sauce:

Grind 1/2 cup cashews, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 cup milk to a smooth paste. Mix in 1 cup crumbled paneer. In another pan, heat a small blob of butter, saute 3-4 garlic cloves and a small chopped onion. Add the cashew paneer mix. Bring it all together. Season with salt and pepper.

The tempting insides

The tempting insides

I have altered my original style of sharing a recipe, but this is all I could think of, to make it easier for you to follow. I hope the above guideline helps. If you have doubts, queries or my writing simply baffles you, please drop in a line. Will gladly respond.

So, lunch was ready, the table was set and Mr Moody had to walk in and change the venue.
Outdoors it was. Three people took to two garden chairs and a very swingy swing. This kind of food requires a very perfectly set table, some chilled wine and very sweet talk – I whined. But a slight breeze, soft clouds hiding a very playful sun, a sprightly 6 year old swinging a rickety swing, a tired man sprawled on a very comfortable chair, but all digging in with such vigor that I stop complaining and let the pasta do the talking.

Digg in

Digg in

Spinach Corn Spaghetti

He hates spinach, I love it. He does not enjoy his noodles. I can live on them. The love hate list is a long one.
God does queer things. The Good Lord puts harmony in two distinctively different entities, coercing us to strike a balance and let the wheels run.
We do make the wheels run. Haltingly, stoppingly. But we make it run. That’s how the Ferrari of marriage works.

With great apprehension I cook this pasta. Ready to battle the “urgh spinach” faces, and nasty scowls. I serve it with hope.
He doesn ‘t get carried away by the appealing looks of his supper. Slowly he digs in. And after the first bite… the rest they say is history.
Milee calls it ‘hotely taste’. I take it as a complement. Hungry husband doesn’t look up or make small talk while he eats. Devours it with an unparalleled zeal. I take that as a complement too.

Spinach puree on a bed of soft pasta

Spinach pureed on a bed of soft pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of thin spaghetti, boiled al dente
  • 1 bunch spinach, washed, blanched
  • ¼ cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 green chili
  • a fistful of coriander leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 spoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp pepper powder
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • Garnish: Parmesan Cheese

Method

Grind blanched spinach, coriander leaves and a green chili into a fine paste. Heat butter in a skillet. Add in the corn kernels. Saute on high. Now, put the flour and milk. Keep stirring to make a smooth white sauce. Now add the spinach puree, along with salt, pepper powder and Italian seasoning.
Stir to get all the stuff together. Now you will have a bright green sauce, which looks sooo good…. sure to make others go green with envy.
Place your spaghetti in a bowl, topple some of this sauce over it, garnish with grated cheese. Serve with olives, hot sauce, toasted garlic bread and a fabulous drink. Makes for a perfect meal.

Toasted bread and an ice-cold drink, is all that you need to enjoy your bowl of pasta

Toasted bread and an ice cold drink, is all that you need to enjoy your bowl of pasta

Note: To preserve the color of the leaves, dip the spinach in hot water for a couple of minutes, and then immediately shock them in cold water. This retains the beautiful color.

Note: Always remember to put in your uncooked pasta in boiling hot water. This will make sure the pasta doesn’t turn into a lump and take care not to over cook them.

Especially for pasta lovers

Especially for pasta lovers