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Friday, August 14, 2015

Relishing Springtime with Pasta Primavera Reloaded !!!

1977 - A famous restaurant in New York. And an almost famous chef. A customer, who also happens to be an eminent citizen and loyal patron, walks in a few minutes before the closing time. He wants something light and fresh. The chef is in a fix. He casts a look at the almost empty pantry and sighs. He walks over to a window for some inspiration and is stuck by the colors of the spring .

He rushes back to the work station and looks through the fresh veggies that came in the morning. The emerald tones of the Zucchini and the broccoli, the ruby red of the cherry tomatoes and the yellow of the squash cheer him up. Why not put these beautiful colors on a plate along with some pasta and a light sauce? And voila !! Pasta Primavera was born .






















2015 - Lady Multi-tasker is on a break. The man of the house is off to an offsite for the next two days and troublesome five year old has been packed off to spend a fortnight with his grandparents. Yesterday's presentation went off spectacularly and hence she is entitled to a few extra hours of sleep.

But she is up by 7 am. After her daily dose of detox, aka a glass of warm water with honey and lemon juice, she is ready for some power yoga. She had been skipping this ritual for almost a week and hence her limbs protested as she twisted herself into a particularly difficult posture.

After accomplishing the yoga and spending sometime on reading a few pages of 'Go Set a Watchman', she saunters into the kitchen. The domestic help has been given a holiday as Lady wants to do the cooking and cleaning herself. It is a part of her "De-stressing" ritual as she puts it. The fridge is not exactly stocked. She then takes a look at the cupboard and her favorite Delmonte pasta arrests her attention. She cannot help but smile as her thoughts travel back in time. In those first few blissful months after her marriage they would not wake up before 11 am on the weekends and then they would take turns to cook some pasta for brunch. She drew in a deep breath to shoo away the cobweb of nostalgia that had begun to engulf her. It had been a long time since she had stepped into the kitchen except for when she had needed some caffeine while working late.

Picking up the right pasta was a tough choice. Spaghetti happened to be her favorite as she was a sucker for simple sauces. And she instinctively reached for it. But instead on a whim, she picked up the unopened packet of Chifferi Rigati sitting next to it. The grooves would do a better job of holding the sauces. Thank God Del Monte has a pasta for every sauce and every occasion.






































Something light yet delicious and with loads of fiber (read veggies). Her requirement was rather vague but as she stepped out into the tiny vegetable garden, the broccoli heads caught her attention. Her husband was addicted to organic farming and while she would have berated him another day, today she was plainly grateful. There was some parsley growing along the sides and a few bunches of cherry tomatoes hung from the overhead pots. And there was the zucchini that had been inching towards an edible size. Plucking a few of the tomatoes, a head of broccoli, a zucchini and a few curls of the parsley, she returned to the kitchen.

There was some red pepper sitting in the fridge and she decided to throw it in along with the fresh veggies.

As she put a saucepan on the stove to reduce some Balsamic vinegar, another larger pot was filled with lots of water and put to a boil. Keeping an eye on the vinegar, she chopped up the veggies. The water was coming to a boil.The broccoli was thrown in, scooped up a minute later and rinsed under cold water to retain their verdant glory. By then the reduction was also ready.

After throwing in a handful of salt, the pasta was also dropped into the same pot. After 5 mins, a wok was put on the other burner. A generous amount of a good quality EVOO was her weakness. The chopped garlic was thrown in into the cold oil itself to extract maximum flavor. The veggies meekly followed suit.

She scooped up a bit of the pasta and popped it into her mouth. Umm. It was cooked perfectly. Al-dente. With just the right amount of bite left to it. Saving some of the pasta water, she promptly drained the pot into a colander. Giving it a quick shake, she tossed the pasta over the veggies and sprinkled some of the pasta water into the wok to infuse the pasta with the vegetable juices. A quick stir was followed by the balsamic reduction, a wee bit of Demerara sugar, salt and the zucchini strips. Finishing it off with some chillis flakes, freshly ground pepper and dried oregano to add that extra zing, she tossed the pasta onto a plate. Garnishing it with some chopped parsley and pouring out a glass of chilled wine to go with it, she sauntered onto the terrace to enjoy the labor of her love aka 'Pasta Primavera Reloaded'.




















Pasta Primavera Reloaded

Preparation Time - 20 mins
Serves - 1

Ingredients -
  • 100 gms Chifferi Rigati
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper (cut into 1 1/2" long strips)
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 small zucchini (peeled and cut into thin strips)
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/3 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp EVOO 
  • salt (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Demerara sugar 
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar ( to be reduced to about 3-4 tsp)
  • parsley for the garnishing

Preparation -

Preparing the Balsamic Vinegar reduction - Take 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar in a thick bottomed saucepan. Let it simmer on low heat. Keep stirring constantly till it thickens and just about 3-4 tsp of the liquid remains. Remove from heat and keep aside.

Cooking the Pasta -  Take about 5 liters of water in a saucepan. Wait till the bubbles begin to rise. Then add quite a bit of salt so that the water tastes almost like sea-water. Once the water gets to a rolling boil, throw in the pasta.

Give it a stir every 3 mins to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook the pasta till it is al-dente.

Scoop up a cup of the pasta water and keep it aside for later use. Transfer the pasta to a colander and give it a shake.

Blanching the Broccoli - Immerse the Broccoli florets in boiling water for a minute or two. Strain and wash under/put into cold water for another 2 mins.

Getting it all togather -  Put a wok on the burner. Pour the olive oil into it and throw in the chopped garlic. Once the garlic turns fragrant, add the blanched broccoli and stir fry for 2 mins before adding the other veggies.

After a minute, add the pasta and 2-3 tsp of pasta water. Stir fry for 2 mins or till the water disappears. Then add the reduction, Demerara sugar, a pinch of salt and zucchini strips. Up the heat for a few seconds while giving the pasta and the veggies a quick shake.

Season with freshly ground pepper, chilli flakes, dried oregano (rub it between fingers before adding) and switch off the flame.

Finally garnish with some chopped parsley and serve hot !!


















A quick pictorial recap is shown below -











































Trivia - Did you know that zucchini flowers are perfectly edible ?? Next time you have some on hand, do not hesitate to throw them into your pasta.



















A special thanks to Del Monte India .

1 comment:

  1. Such a pretty dish! Loved the story behind it...

    ReplyDelete

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