Guide to Making Pasta - Chennai
Everybody loves some good pasta; no wonder we all experiment with it in terms of shapes, sizes, sauces and more. PastaTraditional pasta makers prefer to roll out their own shapes using handmade dough whereas for others like you and me, the readymade brands come in handy. These, including the sauces, spices, herbs and cheese required for making pasta, are available in stores like Nilgiris, Amma Naana, Nuts N Spices etc in Chennai. So if you are planning to try some at home, this recipe from Chef Elangovan Karthikeyan who has over 16 years of experience in Continental and Jamaican cuisine and now works at The Pasta Bar Veneto in Chennai, is for you.
4 cups of mixed vegetables (you can use vegetables of your choice)
1 carrot, peeled and cut into strips
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1/2 small eggplant, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced in two
1/2 bell pepper, any color, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or Herbes de Provence
Sprinkling of garlic salt
1/4 cup of spaghetti, marinara or tomato sauce
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound pasta (use rice pasta for wheat-free version)
grated parmesan (optional and usually used for seasoning)
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the vegetables, stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until vegetables are just cooked. Turn off heat, but let the pan stay on the burner. Add 1/4 cup of the spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce to the vegetables, along with 1/4 cup of water to thin the sauce. If you are using readymade spaghetti or marinara sauce, you don't need to add much seasoning; just 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence, a few sprinkles of garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. If you are using a plain tomato sauce, you might want to start out by cooking a minced clove of garlic first, and then adding the vegetables with a bit more of the seasoning (to taste). Spaghetti and marinara sauce are already seasoned.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for your pasta). Add the pasta. Once it is ready - cooked but still a bit firm, or al dente - drain the pasta and run cold water over it. Put it directly into the skillet with the vegetables. Adjust the seasoning. Add more sauce if needed. Gently mix in the cherry tomatoes.
This recipe serves four. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan, if you like. A little bit of chopped fresh basil would go nicely with this as well. You can also toast bread with a bit of garlic paste with some Italian seasoning and serve.
• To flavor the pasta, you can also add coarsely chopped Leeks/ Celery, Carrot, Bay leaf, few pepper corns and few cloves of garlic in the boiling hot water when cooking.
• Use rock salt if possible, though ordinary salt will also do.
• Ensure that you follow the instructions with respect to timing on the packet of pasta. Each one can be different depending on how dry it is.
• The Pasta should be ‘Al Dente’ (cooked just right). A common test is to bite the pasta. If it is white from the inside, then it is not done.
• Watch the pasta while boiling and add some olive oil as it is being cooked to prevent it from sticking together.
• Wash it in cold water when you take it out if you plan to eat it later, as this will prevent it from getting pasty and sticky.
• Recommended herbs for pastas are Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Bay leaf, Parsley, Lavender, Leeks and Celery.
• Keep a paste of roasted bell peppers, garlic and zucchini that you can add to the sauces. This is to add more taste and flavor to the existing sauces.
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