When I made roasted pumpkin soup a couple of months ago, I had a revelation with roasted pumpkin. I don’t know why I never always made a batch and refrigerated it. Correcting that now. I roasted a kilo of pumpkin cubes to use multiple times. Just cube pumpkin into bite sized pieces and roast in an oven at 180 degrees C for 45 minutes. Coming to this dish, I started off making a basic marina (tomato + lots of garlic) for spaghetti. While I was pureeing the tomatoes I realized I didn’t have enough for two portions of spaghetti. I quickly remembered I had the pumpkin in the fridge. I added two cups of the roasted cubes into the tomato puree and then cooked it out some more with some basil and paprika.
Remember the amaranth and basil pesto I made? I tossed some spaghetti in it and threw in some roasted cherry tomatoes. It was SO good! I’m not a fan of heavy pasta sauces loaded with cream or cheese or both. I find it takes away everything from the sauce and makes it bland without any flavour. Feel free to add it if you like it that way though. This one doesn’t have any.
For twenty rupees I got myself a relatively big bunch of amaranth leaves. No, inspiration didn’t hit me like a wave or anything to make pesto out of it. It was only because I didn’t know what else to do with leftover leaves after making upkari out of most of them. This amaranth and basil pesto though turned out to be pretty damn good – texture and taste wise. I didn’t add any cheese though, because I didn’t have any.
Amaranth leaves – 2 cups chopped
Basil leaves – 1 cup
Cashew nuts – handful
Olive oil – 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Blitz all ingredients in a blender till smooth or rough paste.
Toss pasta in it or even as a sandwich spread.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to live without garlic and lemon. I don’t know what I’d do without them. For this hearty spaghetti meal, I slow roasted full garlic bulbs in the oven, mashed them with some olive oil and crushed black pepper. That’s it. The garlic roasting bit I’d watched on TV or might have read it somewhere – I don’t quite remember. It’s been a while and I’ve always wanted to do it. Garlic sure is pasta’s best friend and I just got them together on a plate.
Spaghetti – one portion
Garlic – 3 full bulbs
Olive oil – to drizzle over garlic
Salt – to taste
Pepper – 1 tsp crushed
Cherry tomatoes – handful
Basil – a few leaves
Preheat oven at 190C for 15 mins.
Remove some of the flaky skin of the garlic bulb but not so much that the cloves just fall apart. Cut the top of the bulb off leaving the rest of the bulb to be exposed.
Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt on the exposed part of the garlic and all over it.
Wrap in foil and roast in oven for 50 mins.
You can throw in the cherry tomatoes (drizzled with olive oil and with a sprinkling of salt) as well and take them out after 40 mins.
When there’s 15 mins to get the garlic out, cook the pasta so it remains warm when you mix it with the sauce.
Take the garlic out and let it cool a little.
You can see the flesh would have turned really soft.
Squeeze the flesh out of the bulbs into a bowl.
Add a dash of some more olive oil with pepper and mix well.
Toss the cooked spaghetti in this garlic sauce and add more olive oil to it if it seems too dry.
Garnish with the roast tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.
I keep whining about how it’s not easy to find good fresh basil around here in Gurgaon, and that it costs so much more than what it does in Bangalore. Thankfully the vendor near my house here had some beautiful fresh basil in stock as well as some plump fresh red chillies. It was obvious I had to use them both. A nice Thai curry came to mind, and even a noodle soup but then I remembered I had some whole wheat pasta that I’d been meaning to cook for a while. I did something really simple – grind basil, chillies and garlic into a paste. Which then I used as my pasta sauce base and added tomatoes and cream to make it the best sauce I’ve made. Ever!
Bunch of basil leaves – I’d say a cup, chopped
4 – 5 big fresh red chillies
5 cloves garlic
(Grind these into a paste with a dash of water. Store in fridge or use immediately)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated (alternatively you could use a tbsp of garlic paste)
1/4 cup fresh cream (you could try milk for a lighter version)
1 cup pasta cooking water
Salt to taste
Pepper for seasoning
Basil leaves for garnish
Optional – vegetables. I used a box of mushrooms, sliced.
Cook any pasta as per instructions on the package and keep aside along with a cup of the water.
Heat olive oil and add the chilli basil paste, and saute for 2 – 3 mins.
Add garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 5 mins till tomatoes break down.
Add the pasta water and vegetables at this point. I added mushrooms and let it cook.
Once mushrooms are cooked, add cream, salt and pepper.
Tip in the pasta into the chilli basil sauce and mix well.
Garnish with basil and serve hot!
In times like these when fast food, junk food and generally unhealthy food is all around you, it’s quite hard to stick to a healthy lifestyle. It’s very easy to cave in and order fried chicken, greasy Chinese food, pizzas with not good but processed cheese, burgers with highly processed meats and sauces, and of course ridiculously heavy and sweet desserts. These can be addictive. Anyway, what I’m getting at is, not that I don’t enjoy an occasional pizza slice, or a burger. And sugar is my poison. Home cooked meals are indeed the best. You can control everything that goes into your food and by extension, you. I’m not suggesting you eat brussel sprouts and carrot slices everyday. But there are ways to cut down the fat and grease in food without compromising its taste. I love my pasta and I love a good sauce to go with it. I read somewhere about roasting bell peppers and turning it into a sauce. It’s a genius idea. I also had whole wheat spaghetti in my pantry. So, there!
Serves 2 hungry people.
250 grams or half a pack of spaghetti
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 very large or 4 medium cloves of garlic, grated
1 cup broccoli, blanched
1 cup mushroom slices
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Paprika or chilli powder if you like some heat in your pasta
Olive oil for cooking
1. Heat a tbsp of olive oil, add garlic and saute bell peppers till you see them charred. Say around 5 – 7 mins.
2. Take off heat, cool and churn it in a blender with some salt till smooth or chunky (however you like your sauce).
3. While your sauce is in the making, cook the spaghetti as per instructions (usually 7 mins) and keep aside. Retain a cup of the cooking water to thin the sauce.
4. Heat more olive oil and brown the mushrooms in it. Toss the broccoli once mushrooms are done.
5. Add the bell pepper sauce now and a splash of the water you cooked the spaghetti in.
6. Tear up a few basil leaves and toss them in.
7. Remove from heat and mix the spaghetti in the sauce.
You can add any veggies or chicken and even different herbs. I just love the freshness of basil and could get my hands on some good basil here in Gurgaon after a long time.
Valentine’s Day. Nip in the air. These definitely ask for a hot pasta dish….Or maybe it’s just easy to make and I don’t need to run to the market to get a thousand ingredients to cook something ‘special’.
Penne – a cup
Olive oil – 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Tomato – 4 large ones chopped
Garlic – 4 pods chopped
Basil leaves – 4 or more if you’re like me or like me
1. Cook the tomatoes in 2 tbsp hot olive with the garlic.
2. Cool and puree it in a blender.
3. In the meanwhile let the pasta cook – 10 mins in salt water or till cooked.
4. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan and tip the tomato sauce in it.
5. Add salt and basil leaves.
6. Tip the cooked pasta in and mix well.
Serve with garlic bread and some love.
PS: I grated some cheddar over it. It’s OK. You can too. I won’t tell anyone.