Masale Bhaat

Masale Bhaat

This dish smells like India to me.

Out of all the Indian food I cook on a regular basis, the spices and coconut in this “spiced rice” dish smell the best when cooking. It reminds me of being in a house in Pune.

Masale bhaat is is basically a Maharashtrian version of a vegetable pulao. You can eat it as a base for curries, or, if you are like me, you can eat it by itself,with yogurt.  I could eat this simple meal several times a week — and sometimes I do, when my husband is out of town (I like Indian food more than he does).

While there are likely hundreds of thousands of ways to make masale bhaat (e.g. some people add eggplant or other veggies into it),  I like this recipe because it’s SIMPLE. Don’t be discouraged by the rather long list of ingredients — it’s actually pretty quick to throw together, and it’s hard to mess up.

Masale Bhaat in the pot

Masale Bhaat (spiced rice)

Ingredients

* 1 cup rice

* 1/4 cup peas

* 1 cinnamon stick

* Several curry leaves (4)

* 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds

* 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

* 3 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut

* 1/4 tsp. turmeric (I always add a pinch more)

* 1/8 tsp. black pepper

* 2 cardamom pods, crushed (or a few shakes of ground cardamom)

* 1 green chili

* 1 tsp. lemon juice

* 1+1/2 tsp. brown sugar

* pinch of asofoetida

* 2 cups water

* salt to taste

* cilantro and more coconut flakes for garnish

Directions

1. Soak rice for about 20 minutes, and rinse under cold water.

2. Heat a bit of oil or ghee (or butter) in a large pot. Add mustard seeds, and when they start to pop, throw in the curry leaves, cumin seeds, asofoetida, cinnamon stick, black pepper and turmeric. After a minute, add the coconut and cardamom powder, and stir, making sure not to burn anything.

3. Fry for a couple minutes, and then add rice. Stir and leave for a minute. Then add 2 cups of water, green chili, peas and rice, and stir together. When it starts to simmer, add lemon juice and brown sugar, cover, and cook until the rice is ready (don’t overcook!).

4. Garnish with cilantro and more coconut flakes, if desired. Serve with yogurt, or whatever else you want.

Published in: on May 17, 2011 at 4:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Home-made Vegetable Stock

The stock, before it simmers

I really hate wasting food.

Not that I’m trying to sound holier-than-thou, but every time I throw a package of baby carrots or a rotten potato away, I always end up feeling really guilty. In fact, one of the things I really admire about my mother-in-law is how she manages to save, reuse, and not waste vegetables.

So I’ve found a way to make sure that scraps of vegetables, or vegetables that are nearly past-their-prime, don’t go to waste — home-made vegetable stock.

This has the added benefit of saving money, since I don’t have to buy the quarts of vegetable stock at the store. And, it allows me to better control the amount of sodium that goes in the stock. Plus, it just tastes better.

Home-made vegetable stock is really easy to make. I know some recipes out there make it sound complicated — they suggest roasting the vegetables first, or buying fresh vegetables to use for stock — ignore them! I guess if you’re making  stock for a Top Chef competition, this would matter, but honestly, I throw a lot of not-so-fresh vegetables into a pot of water with some herbs and boil it for under an hour, and I’m all set. Don’t make this more complicated than you need to.

When done with the stock, there are several options for storage. If you know you will use it within a few days, just put it in a Tupperware container and refrigerate. Otherwise, you can pour the stock into ice cube trays, freeze, and then pop them all into a large Ziploc bag the following day. Or, you can measure the stock into one, two or three cup amounts and then freeze in bags or plastic containers.

Viola! You have stock to use in home-made soups, risotto or whatever else strikes your fancy. I’ve found vegetable stock can even add more flavor to dals than using regular water.

My frozen vegetable scrap stash

Simple Directions for Home-made Vegetable Stock

1. Almost any vegetable is fair game. However, avoid cabbage, broccoli, green peppers, etc.  as these have such strong flavors that they will take over your stock. People also say to avoid cauliflower, though I’ve used a small amount of cauliflower before and had no problems.

2. Make sure to scrub your potatoes and carrots before peeling them, so you can save peels.

3. As you cook daily, take scraps of vegetables (e.g. peels, tops of zucchini, onion, leek tops, corn cobs, garlic cloves) or vegetables that seem to be heading downhill (baby carrots that are starting to turn white,  potatoes that are starting to get soft) and throw them all in a large-sized plastic bag in your freezer. See bottom of page for more ideas

The same goes with any fresh herbs, except some people will tell you to be careful with rosemary, as more than just a very small amount will tend to overpower your stock.

4. Once your bag is full, place it all in a large stock pot. Pour hot water over it until everything is *just* covered. Add any dried herbs you prefer — I usually throw a bunch of cheap oregano, thyme, italian seasoning and parsley in there (hey, no use using up my expensive Penzey’s spices on a stock!). If you didn’t use any garlic scraps in your vegetable stash, through some peeled cloves in, too.

5. I like to make sure that I at least have a fair amount of two important vegetables in my stock: carrots and celery. If you must, go out and buy the celery, use half of it, and freeze the other half. Trust me on this.

6. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 45 minutes.

7. Let stock cool. Taste, and add salt, if you wish. I usually add just a bit of salt, but not much.

8. Now, pour through a strainer into another bowl. Using the back of a spoon, squeeze all the vegetables so that you get all the liquid out of them. You can now, finally, discard these vegetables.

9. Store your stock in one of the manners listed above.

10. There, wasn’t that easy? You can easily do this in the same time it takes to make your dinner.

Vegetable Scraps that are Good for Stock

* Carrot peels and baby carrots

* Potato peels

* Tops of leeks (the green parts you chop off)

* Ends, or slices, of yellow and green zucchini

* Tomatoes

* Eggplants is fine, although careful not to include too much peel

* Onions (though too much red onion will turn your stock purple)

* Celery

* Cauliflower (debatable)

* Garlic cloves, or whatever is left over from using a garlic press

* Red, yellow or orange bell pepper pieces, and tops

* Corn cobs, with or without kernels

* Spring onion

* Cilantro

* Hot peppers, if you want your stock to have a “kick”

* Mushrooms OR the “stems” of the mushrooms that you remove when using mushrooms in other dishes

* Peas (though probably NOT with the pods)

*** Don’t use vegetables that are rotten or molding. However, feel free to use vegetables that you consider to be “past their prime,” as in there is some softening, browning, etc. That’s sort of the point. Just don’t go overboard. After all, you don’t want to ruin the whole pot of stock just because you were too stubborn to throw away a half-onion that was turning milky.

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 4:50 am  Comments (5)  

Pumpkin Ginger Roulade

A slice of Pumpkin Ginger Roulade

I’m home visiting my parents, and was excited to find out that my old college roommate Faiza, and her mother, were coming up from Chicago to visit us for the night.

Instead of going out to eat, my mom and I decided we would make a nice dinner. Mom made her “famous” artichoke-pine nut-lasagna (she used to make  a big batch of it for me when I came home from college, and I would always bring leftovers back to Madison to share with Faiza, so I knew she would appreciate this lasagna again).

For dessert, I decided to try this recipe of Ina Garten’s, a pumpkin-ginger version of the French Buche-de-Noel. It ended up being pretty tasty, and I definitely plan to make it again sometime. Sure, it looks a little intimidating, but as long as you follow the instructions closely, it’s not that hard.

I thought I would post this recipe here because the pumpkin-ginger-cream combo would probably compliment Indian food well — and because my husband loved it! The recipe calls for a 13x18x1 inch pan (a jelly roll pan) but my mom didn’t have one. So I ended up just using a regular 10x15x1 cookie sheet, and I left a bit of the batter out when I poured it in the pan, so it didn’t bake over.

Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Roulade with Ginger Buttercream

Ingredients
* 3/4 cup flour
* 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
*1/2 tsp. salt
* 3 large eggs, room temperature
* 1 cup granulated sugar
*3/4 cup canned pumpkin (make sure it’s not pie filling)
* 1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus some more for dusting
* 12 oz. mascarpone cheese
* 1 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar
* 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
* 1/4 cup minced dried crystallized ginger ( I recommend Penzey’s brand)
*  A pinch salt

Directions
1. Preheat  oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 18 by 1-inch pan (or just a 10 x 15x 1). Line the pan with parchment paper. Then, grease and flour the paper.
2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Place the eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light yellow and thickened.
3. With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, then slowly add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Finish mixing the batter by hand with a rubber spatula.
4. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched.
5. While the cake is baking, lay out a clean, thin cotton dish towel on a flat surface and sift the entire 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar evenly over it. (This will prevent the cake from sticking to the towel.)

Sprinkle powdered sugar on the towel

Mom rolls up the pumpkin cake in the towel

6. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, loosen it around the edges and invert it squarely onto the prepared towel. Peel away the parchment paper. With a light touch, roll the warm cake and the towel together (don’t press!) starting at the short end of the cake. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Meanwhile, make the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, and cream together for about a minute, until light and fluffy. Stir in the crystallized ginger, and salt.
8. To assemble, carefully unroll the cake onto a board with the towel underneath. Spread the cake evenly with the filling. Re-roll the cake in a spiral using the towel as a guide. Remove the towel and trim the ends to make a neat edge. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve sliced.
Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 2:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Pomegranate-Avocado salsa

The salsa is in the bowl on the right

I’m back!

My final papers have all been turned in, I’m over my cold and I’m on vacation visiting my parents in Wisconsin. I also finally have time to cook — and to blog — again. And I apologize for not responding to some of the comments posted on my blog, but wordpress has been finicky and hasn’t told me when I’ve received any comments.

I thought I’d post the recipe for one of my favorite holiday party snacks — pomegranate avocado salsa. I’ve been making this for years, and it’s usually a hit at parties. It’s sweet, sour, spicy — all good things, in my opinion.

In order to make this, you need to take the seeds out of a large pomegranate. I’ve found that the easiest (and cleanest) way to do this is to fill a large bowl with water, place it in the sink, and slice a pomegranate in half with a knife on a cutting board. Then, transfer the pomegranate halves into the bowl of water. Use your hands to sort of massage the seeds out, and bend and peel the husk to work the seeds out under the water — this way the juice won’t splash everywhere and stain things. Also, the seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the sticky white parts float to the top, so this the fastest way of taking seeds out that I have found so far.

I made this salsa for my family’s Christmas party last week, but I forgot to take photos. So I’ll have to make do with this photo from two years ago –the salsa is the dish on the right side.

Here’s the recipe – the amounts given are sort of fluid, so just base it on your preference – but here’s what I used at the most recent party.
 
Ingredients

*1 large (or 2 small), pomegranates
*2 avocados, diced
*1/2 jar of pineapple salsa (or regular salsa)

*1/4 cup chopped cilantro
*Juice of 1/2 – 1 lime
*1/2 mango, chopped into tiny pieces
 
Directions

1. Take the seeds out of the pomegranates. Chop up the avocados into pieces about the size of a thumbnail, or a bit larger. Mix with about the salsa. Then mix in chopped cilantro leaves. Cut up half a mango into very small pieces. Mix into bowl and squeeze the lime over it all. Mix again. If it looks too dry, go ahead and add more salsa to the mixture until it reaches the consistency you prefer.

 Set out with a bowl of tortilla chips and enjoy!

(Note: If you make this salsa for a party, you can do most of the work in advance and just add the avocado about an hour before serving time, so it doesn’t start discoloring. I’ve found that the lime juice tends to keep the avocado in this salsa green, however, for hours)

Published in: on December 17, 2010 at 4:32 am  Comments (2)  

It’s cold season! Bring out the turmeric…

Yes, I know it doesn't look appetizing.. turmeric gargle

It’s that time of the year again… everyone around me seems to be sick. And I’ve found myself constantly telling people to drink ginger tea or gargle with turmeric water. Yes, I’m *that* person. Eventually I just decided I should post my recommendations on the blog and be done with it.

To be honest, I was never very big on home remedies. But my husband and my mother-in-law seem to have some pretty good ones, so I’ve tried their suggestions with an open mind, and I’ve usually been pleasantly surprised.

If you have a cold, stuff nose, sore throat, etc., here are my top three remedies:

1. Turmeric & Salt gargle: My mother-in-law suggested this when I was sick, and I’ve become a convert.  If you have one of those nasty colds where your throat is covered in gross phlegm and it hurts to swallow — try this. Heat up a mug of water until it’s nice and hot, add a spoonful of turmeric and a spoonful of salt. Stir well, and gargle with it (try not to swallow it, because it tastes nasty) about 3-4 times.

* Note: Do NOT do this in a white bathroom sink, because it will stain. Trust me.

2. Ginger Tea: Ginger tea is great for when you have a sore, phlegmy throat (can you tell I have sinus problems?). The ginger cuts right through the gunk, and it soothes your throat. Additionally, it helps to warm you up and fights nausea. My husband makes this by shredding ginger root with a grater, boiling it in a small saucepan with water and sugar, and then straining the ginger out.

*Side note: The last time I was in Mumbai, I came down with a throat infection, and my aunt gave me these home-made “candies” out of shredded ginger and jaggery, which is sort of like brown sugar. They were the best throat lozenges ever, and I need to find  the recipe. If any of you know it, could you pass it along to me, please?

3. Boiling water: My mother-in-law suggested this one last time I had a headcold. Take a large pot of water, boil it on the stove and turn off the heat. Basically stick your face in the pan, and put the towel over your head so the steam can’t escape. This will (sometimes, but not all the time) clear your sinuses out after a few minutes. And, even if it doesn’t, it cleans your pores out, so why not at least try, right?🙂

Ok, now it’s your turn: Please share  your favorite home remedy?

Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 2:10 am  Comments (9)  

The Indian Grocer #4: Frozen Lotus Root

Mmm….Not so much

Well, this is kind of a bummer to write. Because I love lotus roots, and I normally love frozen Indian food products. But, nevertheless, steer clear of frozen lotus. 

It doesn’t retain its crispness, and, even worse, it turns a really unappetizing gray color as it thaws. Ick.

I think it’s a shame they don’t sell lotus in the same way they sell things like water chesnuts or bamboo shoots — in a can. If they did, I think the roots would retain their texture – and maybe their color – a little better.

In the meantime, you have three choices if you are hankerin’ for lotus:

1. Get on a plane and fly to India.

2. Go to a grocery store, buy lotus root and begin the painstaking task of peeling them just enough to get the tough outer skin off, but not so much that you peel away half the root.

3. Give up.

I generally go with method #2, but since starting grad school, I have very little time and have started having to give up some of the “good things” in life. Unfortunately, lotus roots are going to fall in this category, unless someone can tell me where I can eat a lotus root curry in Washington DC.

Hopefully my next Indian Grocer Expedition will yield better results.

Published in: on November 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm  Comments (3)  

Grandma’s Dishes

My grandmother's china

I apologize for having gone missing. I’ve been extremely busy these past few weeks — we’ve moved to Washington, D.C., so I can start graduate school next week and the move was NOT an easy one. Let’s just say everything that could have gone wrong did, and leave it at that. 

So, not only have I not had time to blog, I haven’t really even had time to cook. 

However, now that we’ve finally found a place where we plan to live two years in a row (wow! could it be possible? I haven’t lived that long anywhere in about a decade), I pulled out the boxes of my grandmother’s china that have been sitting in storage for several years. Actually, they’ve been in storage way longer than that – -first at my mom’s house, then in mine..I didn’t even have an idea what was in there. 

I’m pleasantly surprised! I’m now the owner of an 80-plus piece set of eggshell-colored, flowery china that’s in really great shape. I don’t think it’s fancy stuff  (It’s stamped simply “Howard Laughlin,  Made in the USA.” The Internet tells me this company was the major china company in the 1920’s through the 60’s, and some sets of the company’s china were sold exclusively at Woolworths Department stores).

 However, I can’t believe all the peices in this set! There are: 12 cups, 12 saucers, 12 tiny little plates, 12 super tiny bowls, 12 larger shallow bowls, 12 salad plates, 12 large plates and a creamer dish, sugar dish, gravy boat and large serving platter. Phew. 

I’m not even sure what some of this stuff is supposed to be used for, to be honest. Like these little bowls. You can see how small they are, because I held up a one-cup measuring cup for reference. Someone on the internet called them “berry bowls” — does this ring a bell? 

Berry bowls?

The dishes all have gold painting on the edges and little gold designs in a ring around the inside — I can’t believe how they’ve all held up so well! 

The plates are sort of square, sort of circular

Also confusing to me are how shallow these large bowls (pictured below) are — were they used for soup? Or a salad or something? 

The shallow bowls

And finally, the pretty little sugar bowl: 

I think this looks very French...

Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm  Comments (4)  

Falooda

Two Faloodas, coming right up

My first taste of falooda was, oddly enough, not at an Indian sweet shop or home. It was in a Burmese restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. And it quickly made its way on to my “favorite desserts” list.

Falooda is enjoyed in countries spanning from Iran to Burma, and, I guess, beyond. The preparation seems to differ from country to country. However, the way my husband and I make it at home (and the way we’ve had it in most Indian restaurants around here), it includes ice cream, rose-flavored syrup, milk, vermicelli noodles, cardamom, whipped cream and tukmaria, which are softened basil seeds. You can purchase the rose syrup, called Rooh Afza (“Summertime drink of the the East”) in Indian and Middle-Eastern grocery stores. Yes, it’s eerily brightly covered red. No, I don’t want to know how many chemicals go into making it that color….just let it go.

This definitely would qualify as an “exotic” dessert in case any of my Milwaukee readers need a dessert option for the next neighborhood progressive dinner🙂

Actually, the tukmaria (basil seeds) are my favorite part of this dessert. They’re these odd little gelatinous circles that have a slight crunch when bitten. They don’t really have any flavor by themselvs, but add a nice texture to this Indian version of a milkshake. Plus, people will tell you that they cure indigestion. Just put them in a glass of water for about a half-hour or longer, and watch them get soft and puffy. Then, they’re ready to eat.

Now, I’ve found a lot of recipes for this treat, many adding corn flour or gelatin (ick!). Some involve using sweetened condensed milk, or boiling the milk beforehand, then cooling it… I’m sure those all taste great, and perhaps they are the traditional way of making this dessert. However, when the temps are in the 90s, I lose all motivation to work in the kitchen, so I’ve made this recipe as simple as possible, while still keeping the original flavors intact.

Now, if  only Kopp’s Frozen Custard (or Zesty’s in Green Bay, which are my two favorite custard shops) would just make a falooda flavor of the day…

Falooda

Ingredients – for two

* 2 cups milk

* 4  scoops vanilla ice cream

* 4 Tbsp. rose syrup (Rooh Afza)

* 1/2 tsp. basil seeds

* 1/4 cup vermicelli noodles

* Sprinkling of ground cardamom

* Almond slices or pistachios, for garnish

Directions

1. Bowl vermicelli noodles in a saucepan according to the package. Drain and add two spoonfuls into the bottom of two tall glasses.

2. Place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in one glass, and add about a cup of milk. Add 2 Tbsp. Rooh Afza  and a dash of ground cardamom, and blend, to make a thin milkshake. Add a spoonful of the basil seeds. Repeat with the other glass.

3.  Now, add another scoop or two of ice cream on the top. Add some whipped cream. Sprinkle with the crushed nuts.  Serve with a straw and a spoon.

* As with any dessert, if you want it more rose-tasting, add more syrup, or less rose-tasting, add less. Add sugar if you want. Add more ice-cream and less milk. Just make it taste good!

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm  Comments (1)  

Easy Navratan Korma

  

Bubbling in the pot...

Navratan Korma is one of those “typical” Indian foods you always seen on the menus of Indian restaurants here in the US. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s awful. 

I think the issue is that what classifies as Navratan — which means “Nine Jewels” in Hindi — is somewhat subjective. For example, while I think of cashews and sultana raisins as some of MY nine jewels, one takeout place near my apartment apparently considers “rotten pear pieces” and “corn kernels” as its jewels. Ick. 

The best navratan curry I ever had was in Jaipur, at a restaurant called Niro’s. The place has been around for more than 60 years and is listed in nearly every travel guide of the area. If recent traveller’s reviews are to be believed, it may have gone downhill in the past year or two. However, when I was there in 2006, the food was very, very good. It was made even better considering the hoops we jumped through to eat there —  mostly a very, very pushy tour guide who only wanted us to eat at the restaurants he was getting kickbacks from. He was also obsessed with telling us all sorts of details about the concubines of the ancient Mughal kings. Seriously. He was really annoying. 

Anyhow, below is my own simple recipe for Navratan Korma — including  MY nine jewels. Most of the vegetables can easily be substituted with whatever you have on hand or whatever you prefer. However, my necessities for a good navratan korma — and the ones I rarely get at restaurants — are paneer, cashews and sultanas or, even better, dried apricots. I’m not actually a big fan of the lima beans in it, but I’ve gotten them so often in restaurant orders that I’ve  become accustomed to it, and therefore used it in this recipe. 

This is a great dish to cook if you don’t have a lot of exotic Indian ingredients on hand, because the spices called for are all things you should be able to pick up at a basic grocery store. And, if you don’t have garlic or ginger paste, just use fresh garlic and ginger and smash it up. 

 
 

Navratan Korma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Navratan Korma 

Ingredients 

* 2 small onions 

* 2 Tbsp. garlic paste 

* 2 Tbsp. ginger paste 

* 3 tomatoes 

* 2 tsp. coriander 

* 1/2 tsp. turmeric 

* 1/2 tsp chili powder 

* 2 tsp. garam masala 

* 1 cup water 

* 1/4 cup milk 

* 1/4 cup cream 

* Nine “treasures” (below are mine) 

* 1/3 cup cashews 

* 1/2 cup paneer cubes 

* 1 cup potato, sliced into one-inch cubes 

* 15 string beans, cut into halves 

*3/4 cup lima beans 

* 1/2 cup carrots, sliced 

* 1/2 cup peas 

* 1/4 cup sultana raisins or dried apricots, sliced 

Directions 

1. Fry paneer until it is browned. 

2. Grind onion, garlic paste,and  ginger paste in food processor until well mashed. Add some water if you need to make this a paste-like consistency. 

3. Add a teaspoon of oil to a large pan and cook onion-tomato paste, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Add tomato sauce and spices, and continue to simmer for several minutes. 

4. Pour in water, carrots and potato and a few of the raisins or sliced apricots. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened. 

5. Add all other vegetables , cook for 5-8 minutes. 

6. Add paneer and cashews.  Then, stir in milk and cream, simmer for 2-3 minutes. Salt to taste. 

7. Serve over rice, garnish with cilantro if you like. 

Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pasta Primavera

This pic turned out blurrier than I expected

This dish falls into a catagory of foods I think of as “first becoming a vegetarian foods.” That’s because my mother made it a lot when I first decided, at 16, to become a vegetarian. 

Pasta Primavera, tofu shepherd’s pie, macaroni and cheese, broccoli pasta, artichoke lasagna, home-made veggie burgers — these were the meals she found and made frequently for me (especially when my meat-loving dad was out of town on business). 

And when I came home from college on some weekends, she would usually end up making pasta primavera, too. And I would take the leftovers home with me in Tupperware containers. 

So, it holds a special, nostalgic,  place in my heart. 

This recipe is pretty easy to make, and it usually pleases just about anybody. The recipe for the white sauce is, I believe, foolproof, and you can use it, as I do, as your base for other more creative white sauce options for other dishes (adding, for example, saffron and walnuts, or some white wine, or a bunch of herbs… it’s up to you). 

Oh, and don’t skip the grape tomatoes on the top, because they add a great freshness (and color) to the meal. 

As a final side note: We’ve started buying higher-quality pasta lately. It started off as an accident when we had to buy orecchiette in an Italian specialty store, and we realized how much better the meal tasted. So, for this recipe, I used a more expensive spinach fettucine, too, and I have to say that it made a big difference. If you can spare the extra two bucks or so, I would suggest you do the same. 

Pasta Primavera 

Ingredients 

1 lb. spinach fettucine or linguine 

Several tablespoons olive oil 

1 cup carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch round pieces 

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces 

4 garlic cloves, crushed 

2 tsp. thyme 

1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into halves or thirds  at an angle (I use frozen ones for this) 

1 1/2 cups yellow and/or green zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/4 inch slices 

2 cups mushrooms, sliced 

Grape tomatoes, as garnish 

— For Sauce — 

2 Tbsp. butter 

2 Tbsp. flour 

1 1/2 cups heavy cream 

1/2 cup milk 

One cup grated parmesan cheese 

2 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs 

Black pepper and salt, to taste 

Directions 

1. Cook pasta in boiling water according to directions on package, and drain. 

2. To make sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add flour and stir over  a low heat for one or two minutes. Slowly pour in cream while stirring. Keep stirring and allow this to thicken for a few minutes. You will notice a difference in the consistency. Then, add cheese, then milk, herbs and pepper, stirring well. Remove from heat. 

3. Heat olive oil in a large pan and saute the broccoli for two minutes. Add carrots, garlic and thyme. Cover and stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add zucchini and snow peas, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste. Cook two minutes, then remove from heat. 

4. To serve, place pasta in a bowl, put a large spoonful or two of veggies on top, then pour some white sauce on top. Garnish with halved-grape tomatoes and sprinkle with some parmesan on top, if you like. Enjoy!

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 12:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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