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Showing posts with label Italian style pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian style pasta. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easy Chicken Lasagna

Lasagna. The very mention of it is enough to send those salivary glands on an overdrive. A heavenly concoction of meat, tomato sauce and cheese that has layered pasta sheets altered with all the aforementioned toppings. This oven-baked Italian recipe is actually one of the oldest types of Pasta.

Though it may look quite daunting ( as it did to me ), it is quite easy to put together if you are an expert at whipping up a mean pasta sauce. I prefer to use the homemade Marinara sauce ( recipe here ) in my lasgana. Throw in some stir fried/browned meat, onions, veggies, a humongous amount of cheese and those pasta sheets cooked to al-dente, and I am all set. Read on for this super easy and yummy version -

[Sorry about the pics !! With my good old camera sent for the repairs, I had to shoot this with my mobile ]

Preparation Time - 1 hour ( actually I had three burners going at the same time so you will definitely need more if using a single/double cooktop )

Ingredients -

  • 6 Pasta/Lasagna sheets
  • 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup mixed peppers (red & yellow)
  • 1 large onion ( chopped into medium sized pieces )
  • 6-8 garlic flakes (finely chopped)
  • coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup grated mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup processed cheese ( can substitute with ricotta or cream cheese )
  • 1 egg
  • chili flakes or chopped jalapenos (as per taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Bring 10-12 cups water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt. Once the salt is dissolved, add the paste sheets one by one. Keep on a rolling boil and give a stir in between to prevent the sheets from sticking to each other.

Heat another wok. Drizzle with olive oil. Throw in the onions. Once they turn brown, add the peppers and stir fry for 2 mins. Finally add the shredded chicken along with the chili flakes/jalapenos, Italian seasoning and some parsley. Cook on medium high for 4-5 mins. Remove and keep aside to cool down a bit. Break the egg and mix in.

Check the lasagna sheets. If they are al-dente( mine took abt 20 mins) , drain the water using a colander and place the sheets under cold water for a few seconds.

[Do not forget to keep an eye on the marinara sauce (if cooking simultaneously). ]

Layering - Rub some olive oil over the bottom and sides of a rectangular dish. Put some marinara sauce at the bottom. Put one of the lasagna sheets. Layer it with some more marinara sauce, then add the meat and veggies mixture. Finally drizzle the cheese over it. Repeat the process till you exhaust the sheets and the meat and veggies. Pour any remaining sauce on the top and drizzle with leftover cheese. Sprinkle some parsley and the leftover seasoning. Cover the dish with a foil.

Heat an oven at 180C (or 375F) for 10 mins. Put in the baking dish and allow it to bake for 35-45 mins at the same temperature. (Remove the foil for the last 10 mins)

Remove carefully and let it sit for 15 mins.

Cut into pieces and serve.

Note - Leftovers can be frozen and reheated when ready to consume.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spaghetti al Limone

I love paste recipes that are simple and light with just the right amount of spice. That is why I was delighted to come across the recipe for pasta al limone, i.e., pasta seasoned with lemon. But when I looked up still more, I could find wide discrepancies in the seasonings used in most recipes with the exception of perhaps olive oil, cheese, lemon and basil ( just one recipe used parsley ). So, I added a bit of my own to it. Cheese, lemon juice and mayonnaise with a hint of basil make for the most mind-blowing combination is what I discovered in process.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 150 gm spaghetti
  • 2 garlic flakes (finely chopped)
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/5 tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp grated cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • juice of one lemon
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 7-8 fresh Italian basil leaves
  • freshly ground pepper as per taste
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Take the chilli flakes, cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon rind, 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk together.

Cooking - Boil 8-9 cups water in a large saucepan. Add salt when it comes to a boil. As it gets to a rolling boil, throw in spaghetti. Cook for 12 mins or till aldente ( stir 2-3 times in between ).

After the spaghetti has cooked for 9-10 mins, heat a wok. Add the olive oil and as it warms up, throw in the garlic pieces. Allow it to just turn light brown. Remove and keep aside.

Drain the spaghetti while retaining about 1/2 cup of liquid. Add some of this liquid to the mixing bowl containing the cheese-mayo mix.

Transfer the spaghetti back into the saucepan. Add the olive oil-garlic and toss a bit. Add the contents of the mixing bowl along with some basil leaves and crushed pepper. Toss well.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spaghetti Al Pesto

Simple and frugal is sometimes the best. And i feel that in case of all the pasta recipes that I have worked on/tasted, this is the thumb rule. I would never have thought of combining basil with ingredients olive oil, garlic and cheddar cheese I had I not stumbled on this recipe. And was quite skeptical to begin with. Another reason why this post got delayed. The primary was that I could not find a good Parmesan and pine nuts to begin with. But a recent recipe that I caught on the cookery show convinced me that I could use a Cheddar-walnut combination to make this recipe. And that the basil can be partly substituted with baby spinach. But I stuck to the basil bit. And haven't regretted it a bit.

Read on for the delightfully easy recipe (while I ponder what to do with the leftover pesto....BTW it is sitting pretty in my fridge covered with a generous layer of EVOO). But for those with a nut allergy, do try out Nigella's Pasta Alla Genovese -

Preparation Time - 15 mins ( Not a min extra...mind it )

Ingredients -

  • 150 gm durum wheat spaghetti
  • 1 cup lightly packed Italian basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic flakes
  • 7-8 peppercorns (freshly crushed/ground)
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Chop the garlic flakes and basil leaves.

Take all the ingredients (except for lemon juice and EVOO) in a blender and buzz till you break it all into small bits. Add the lemon juice and EVOO in a trickle till it is well incorporated. The pesto is now ready.

(Actually the quatity will be good enough for two times with a little bit leftover for a chicken and pesto sandwich. Make sure you add a layer of EVOO over the pesto when storing it in a airtight container in the fridge. )

Cooking - Boil 9-10 cups water in a saucepan. When bubbles begin to appear, add sufficient amount of salt to the water. Once it gets to a rolling boil, add the spaghetti.

Cook for 12 mins or till al-dente. Remove 2-3 tbsp of the water and add it to the pesto.

Drain the water in a colander, give it a good shake and toss back the spaghetti into the same vessel in which it was cooked. Add the diluted pesto and toss to uniformly cover the spaghetti strands.

Serve immediately or even after sometime. Tastes good even when served cold.

Note - It takes about 2 litres of water and 1 tbsp of salt to cook 200 gm of spaghetti in the right way.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spaghetti Alla Marinara

Recent showers have cooled down Bangalore and given a respite from the sweltering afternoons. And it has also given me the chance to indulge in some of my favorite dishes which I had given up as I did not feel like spending time in the kitchen.

Spaghetti Alla Marinara is an Italian style tomato sauce which makes use of tomatoes, onions, garlic and some herbs like oregano, basil and parsley. It is mostly used in combination with seafood and pasta. Literally it means 'Mariner's spaghetti but the original recipe had nothing to do with seafood. It was just a dry preparation which relied heavily on the acidity of the tomatoes to preserve the dish for a few days while the menfolk were at sea. It also uses wine (which is also a preservative) to add some sweetness to the dish. Quite easy but requires about 15-20 mins of cooking to get the sauce right. Choosing the right vessel is also important for this dish. Use a thick bottomed skillet/frying pan instead of a saucepan while cooking the sauce.

One of the simplest paste sauces I have ever come across, this makes me wonder why people believe in drowning their paste by adding so much cheese and cream. Read on for the yummy recipe:

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 100 gm spaghetti
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (blanched)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (one can use a little ketchup instead)
  • 2 tbsp+1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sized red onion (chopped into small thin pieces but i left them long)
  • 3-4 garlic flakes (chopped or crushed)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • a few fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (optional)
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Crush the tomatoes.

Cooking - Heat a skillet or frying pan. Add 1 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the garlic. Fry till it turns light brown.

Add the crushed tomatoes along with the dried herbs and chilli flakes. Add salt.

In a separate pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the fried onions to the skillet/frying pan containing the tomatoes. Cook the sauce on medium heat.

Boil water in a large saucepan. Once the bubbles start showing, add salt generously. As soon as it gets to a rolling boil, add the spaghetti.

Boil for 12-13 minutes till al-dente. Drain excess water. Add 1 tsp of olive oil, toss gently and keep aside.

By this time, the sauce would be ready. Stir in the white wine vinegar. (If you find it too dry add some hot water by the teaspoon. If it is too watery turn up the heat for 2-3 minutes.)

Transfer the pasta to a plate/dish. Put some sauce over it and dig it . (No fancy plating/garnishing required for this recipe. Just plain old good food.)

Note - Normally the tomatoes are peeled and pureed after blanching to get a smooth paste. But as I like the coarse texture of this sauce, I have omitted this step.

One can also add some sauteed prawns/octopus/squid to this recipe if you prefer seafood pasta.

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