Pesto Pasta Impromptu

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Today, I had an urge to eat pasta, with pesto sauce. All I had was pasta and two handfuls of fresh basil from our little kitchen garden. No, no Olive oil, no Pine kernels and no Parmesan! So then, how on earth am I going to make a pesto?!

As usual, I improvised and believe me it was one of the best pasta I have ever made! Yum!

So here goes the recipe:

Ingredients:

Pasta spirals – 300g

French beans, cut into long pieces (1-2 inch long)  – 200g

Processed cheese, grated – a small block about 50-75g

Basil leaves – 2 handfuls

Almonds, blanched and skin removed – 8-10

Dry red chillies – 2-3

Cooking oil – 1 tbsp

Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed

Eggs, poached/ sunny side up – 4

Butter – 1 tbsp (small block)

Black Pepper – freshly pounded (to taste)

Salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Boil pasta with plenty of water and 2 tsp salt until it is tender and has a bite to it.
  • In the meantime blanch the cut beans or you can microwave, as I did, without any liquid in a glass bowl, covered for 3-4 minutes (on high power)
  • Make a paste of a handful of basil leaves, cheese and almonds with a tbsp water from pasta.
  • In a heavy base pan heat the butter and oil together, add crushed garlic and break dry chilies into it. Sauté for about a minute or until you get the smoky aroma of chilli and garlic.
  • Add drained pasta and cooked beans to the pan. Mix well.
  • Next add the pesto paste, mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Finally break rest of the basil leaves with hands and add to the pasta.
  • Serve hot topped with poached eggs.  
  • And enjoy!

 

Serves: 4

Please try and post comments to encourage me to create more recipes.

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Japanese Cold Noodle Salad

Whenever I ask my kids what would they like to have for dinner, mostly I get a reply “something different” and if not that, then “pasta or noodles”. And every time I have made pasta or noodles so far I used to feel guilty that I was not giving them a wholesome diet. But things have changed tremendously ever since I have got my pasta machine.

I make egg noodles, spaghetti, and fettuccine all from scratch using best of ingredients …… simply eggs and whole wheat flour (atta)! I also love to create colorful pastas by mixing in pureed spinach, tomato, beetroot or carrots, which makes both the children happy as well as me too as I know that they are not missing out on goodness of veggies.

Let’s keep the colorful pasta recipe ideas for later and let me share the recipe of egg noodles and the cold salad made using these egg noodles.

Japanese Cold Noodle Salad

Japanese Cold Noodle Salad

Ingredients for egg noodles:

Whole wheat flour – 300 g

Large eggs – 3

Sesame oil (or any other cooking oil)

Instructions:

  • Mix in all the ingredients together to bind it in dough.
  • Knead it until it all comes together well. Wrap it in a cling film and set aside for a while (8-10 minutes).
  • Put a large pan of water to boil with a tea-spoon of salt.
  • In the meantime, unwrap the dough and cut into three pieces. Wrap two parts back in the cling film so that dough doesn’t dry out and stretch the third one (or the first one!) on the pasta machine until you reach thickness or thinness of 7.
  • Pass the stretched sheets through noodle cutter and put in the boiling water straight away.
  • Allow it to boil for a minute or so, or until all noodles start floating (a sign that they are cooked)
  • Using a spaghetti fork or large strainer, scoop them out of boiling water and put them in cold water to stop cooking and retaining the texture.
  • Repeat the same with the remaining dough.

Ingredients for dressing:

Zest of one orange

Juice of an orange

Ginger juice 1 tsp

Sesame seeds, roasted – 2 tbsp

Orient seasoning salt – ½ tsp

Japanese seasoning – 2 tsp (I use Keya)

Sesame oil 2-3 tbsp

Rice vinegar – 1 tbsp

Brown sugar – 1tsp

Freshly ground black pepper – 1 tsp

Instructions:

  • Mix in all the ingredients together except sesame oil.
  • Add in the sesame oil slowly while whisking the dressing mixture until it all emulsifies together. Keep it aside.

Salad ingredients:

Cabbage, finely grated – ½ cup

French beans, diagonally sliced, ½ cup

Onion, finely sliced – ½ cup

Green pepper, finely sliced – ½ cup

Carrots, julienned – ½ cup

For garnish:

A thin 2 egg omelette flavored with ginger juice, grated ginger, chili powder and salt, cut into thin slices.

A mixture of red chili paste ( I still get my red chili paste from Sri Lanka, they are the best at making it, although they call it Chinese chili paste!!!) in 2 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp rice vinegar.

Instructions:

  • Boil a large pan of water and blanch all the veggies together for about 2 minutes.
  • Strain through a colander and soak them in chilled water for 5-7 minutes. It helps retain the crunchiness and the color of the veggies.

To assemble the salad:

  • Mix the dressing and the blanched veggies together. Taste for seasoning and adjust according to your taste.
  • Next add the boiled, cold egg noodles and mix well. Use fingers to mix all the ingredients together and ensure noodles are well coated with dressing.
  • Plate it up and top up with omelette strips and red chili paste.

And there you go, once again a wholesome meal with everybody’s favorite ingredients in it. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

 

Wholesome Chunky Vegetable Soup

My little one reminded me “Juice season is over Ma, it is the soup season now!” Well not exactly so but she is quite right as winter is here and so is the season of soups. Everyone in my family is fond of soups – chicken soup, mushroom soup, sea food soup, lentil soup, pea soup and the list goes on…  My most favorite one is the chunky vegetable soup, in which I use any and every vegetable in my refrigerator.  I chop the veggies in bite size chunks, roast a small cup of bulgur wheat and I am ready to fix a wholesome meal. It is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals and also is a good source of fiber and low in fat. A perfect dinner that one can enjoy, on a cold evening, in a cozy couch, in front of television!

Ingredients:

Carrots, chopped 2 cups

French beans, chopped 1 cup

Green peppers chopped 1 cup

Red Onion 1 large – chopped

Bulgur wheat / dahlia – ¾ cup

Tomato puree (I use Mutti Passata di pomodoro al basilico), 4 tbsp

Garlic – 4 cloves, crushed

Basil leaves 10-15, roughly torn with hands

Olive oil – 1 ½ tbsp (extra virgin preferably)

Black pepper 1 tsp, freshly ground

Parmesan, grated 2 tbsp

Vegetable or chicken stock (optional), 500 ml

Salt to taste

Any other vegetables of your choice

Instructions:

  • In a pan dry roast bulgur until it turns golden and a sweet aroma is given out.
  • Add about 500 ml of water to the pan, bring it to boil and then allow it to simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
  • In another pan, heat oil and add crushed garlic, sauté for a minute or so.
  • Add chopped onion and sauté till onion gets golden color.
  • Next add the chopped veggies one by one and sauté for about 5 minutes on moderate heat.
  • Mix in the tomato puree, stir it in well, let it fry for 2 minutes. Add vegetable/ chicken stock.
  • Next add in the simmering bulgur along with all the water in which it is boiling. Stir it well and allow it to cook on moderate to low heat for 15 – 20 minutes until veggies are done and so is the bulgur (I use this time to either grate some cheese and/or asking kids again and again to lay the table! Which then doesn’t happen and finally we end up eating on that cozy couch in front of television).
  • Last but not the least season it with salt, pepper and torn basil. Sprinkle it with some grated Parmesan.

Serves: 4-6

Serve this nutritious soup hot with some garlic bread or dinner rolls. You can though avoid bread (as I do) because the bulgur in the soup provides carbs and proteins and minerals too.

Tangy Warm French beans Salad

I grew up on farms as my father worked as an Agriculture scientist. My father is very fond of gardening and we always had a kitchen garden where he would grow all sorts of seasonal vegetables, free of any chemicals. I still remember we used to get French beans only in winter season. My father would pluck them fresh from the garden and my mom would cook them with potatoes as a curry (which my brother and I didn’t like much).

Later, when I travelled to Europe I learnt that French beans could be prepared in so many different ways. I liked slightly blanched ones, seasoned and topped with butter (simple and my all time favorite). Apart from that they can be used in various salads, and of course there are so many versions in salads as well.

Much later in Sri Lanka I learnt completely different way of cooking them, in coconut milk with lots of spices, as fragrant hot curry, which I would like to share with you some other time.

Recently I got my hands on two big bundles of very fresh French beans, so delicate and full of flavor that couldn’t think of any other recipe but this tangy salad, which can be used as entrée or a side dish.

Tangy Warm French beans Salad:

Ingredients:

500g tender French beans, topped and tailed

Dressing:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp yellow mustard paste or half and half yellow and English mustard

1 tbsp White wine vinegar (or any other natural vinegar)

2 tbsp capers

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed (I like a lot of garlic)

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Handful of fresh basil, torn with hands

Salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Mix all the ingredients of dressing in a large bowl and keep it aside.
  • To blanch beans bring 3/4th pan of water to boil (in a large pan) with half teaspoon of sugar and 1 tsp salt.
  • Add beans to the boiling water, stir well.
  • Bring it to boil once more on full heat and let it blanch for a minute or so.
  • Drain all the water through colander. Add to the bowl with dressing, mix well.

Serve as you wish, warm or cold, great as side dish with roasted or baked chicken.

P. S.: Sometimes I also add a piece of boiled chicken breast, torn into small pieces with hands and just thrown in. And voila – a wholesome meal is ready to be enjoyed!