Friday, October 27, 2006

Bow-tie pasta with oven roasted vegetables

Pasta is delicious anyway you eat it. This is a healthy recipe with a lot of yummy oven roasted veggies. If you want to further cut down the calories substitute with a whole wheat pasta and skip the cheese.

1 pound bow-tie pasta or Farfalle pasta
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 medium sized zucchini
1 onion
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 tbps grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt to taste
Olive oil for roasting the vegetables
Pepper to taste

1. Chop all the veggies. Make big pieces of the bell peppers and onions. Chop the zucchini into round pieces.
2. Add olive oil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper to the veggies and combine well.
3. Spread on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn the veggies while in the oven to ensure they are well roasted.
4. Once the veggies are roasted set them aside and prepare the pasta.
5. Cook one pound of bow tie pasta according to package instructions. Remember to salt the water before adding the pasta.
6. Pour 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan and add red pepper flakes and garlic.
7. Add the roasted veggies and cooked pasta and toss together.
8. Check for seasonings. You can add more red pepper flakes, pepper or salt to suit your taste.
9. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve hot.

Serving size - 1 cup
Number of servings - 6

Bell pepper gravy curry

A delicate gravy made with light spices. The bell peppers taste awesome in this gravy. You can make the gravy and store in the refrigerator. Just add roasted bell peppers, eggplants or tindora (ivy gourd) when you are ready to use the gravy.

2 medium red bell peppers
2 medium green bell peppers
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 tsp channa dal (gram dal)
1 tsp dhania (coriander seeds)
1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
4-5 dry red chillies
2 medium onions finely chopped
1 medium tomato finely chopped (or 1/2 cup of canned diced tomatoes)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp fresh chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Oil for seasoning

1. Toast the peanuts, channa dal, dhania, jeera and red chillies in a pan. Fry each one separately; do not add oil while frying.

2. Powder the roasted ingredients and keep aside. You can add a little water while grinding.
3. Pour oil in a pan, add the onions and fry until translucent.
4. Add the chopped bell peppers and cook till soft.

5. Add the tomatoes and ginger garlic paste and fry till the tomatoes becomes soft.
6. Add the ground paste, salt and a little water and simmer for a while till the gravy is cooked.
7. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot with roti or naan.

Serving size - 1/2 cup
Number of servings - 8

Dal Makhani

An interesting twist to the boring old dal recipe. This mouth watering recipe is easy to make and pleases your guests too.

1/2 cup black urad dal
2 tbps red kidney beans (rajma)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 cup fresh cream or half and half
1 tsp red chilli powder
3 tbps butter
2 tomatoes chopped finely
1 onion chopped
1 tbps oil
Salt to taste

1. Soak the black urad dal and rajma overnight in water.
2. Peel and chop the onion.
3. Wash and chop the tomatoes.
4. Pressure cook the soaked dal and rajma in three cups of water with salt and red chilli powder till soft.
5. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When it crackles, add the chopped onions and fry till translucent.
6. Add ginger garlic paste and chopped tomatoes. Sauté the tomatoes till they become soft. Fry the mixture till the oil leaves the masala.
7. Add the boiled dal and rajma along with salt.
8. Add garam masala powder and simmer on low heat for about 5-10 minutes till everything is well incorporated.
9. Add the fresh cream and simmer for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve hot with roti or naan.

Serving size - 1/2 cup
Number of servings 6-7

Palak Paneer

This is a popular side dish that is served with either roti or pulao. Simple yet elegant, palak paneer is very easy to make and delicious with a light hint of spices in the background.

1 big bunch of fresh spinach (or one 10 oz box chopped frozen spinach)
15 to 20 cubes of paneer
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
5 green chillies
1/2 onion (chopped finely)
1/2 tsp of ginger garlic paste
1 tsp of coriander-cumin powder
1/4 cup cashews
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
A pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste

1. Dry roast the cashews and keep aside.
2. If you are using fresh spinach then wash the spinach, roughly chop them and sauté along with green chillies in one tsp of oil until wilted. Let the mixture cool. Add the cashews and puree the spinach with a pinch of salt and coriander leaves to a smooth paste.
3. If using frozen boxed spinach, sauté only the green chillies in oil. Defrost the spinach in a microwave and blend to a smooth paste along with green chillies, coriander leaves, cashews and salt. Do not add excess water while making the spinach puree.
4.Add 1 tsp of oil in a pan and sauté the onions till translucent.
5.Add the ginger-garlic paste and coriander-cumin powder and sauté for a while.
6.Then add the turmeric powder and tomatoes and mix well till the raw smell of tomato disappears.
7.Add the spinach mixture and let everything boil. If you find the gravy too thick, add 1/4 cup of water.
8.Add the paneer cubes and mix till they are incorporated completely in the gravy.
Optional: You can shallow fry the paneer cubes in oil.

Serve hot with pulao or roti.

Serving size - 1 cup
Number of servings - 5

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Easy mac and cheese

There are a thousand different ways in which you can spice up your mac and cheese. This simple and delicious veggie mac and cheese is surely a treat at the end of a busy day.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (any brand)
1 small onion chopped
1 cup of broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsps of unsalted butter
3 tbps all purpose flour
3 cups of milk (preferably whole milk)
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of paprika
2-3 cups yellow sharp Cheddar cheese
Red pepper flakes for garnish
Salt to taste
Olive oil
1. Place a pot of water on to boil for macaroni. Once the water bubbles, add salt and the macaroni. Cook as per the package directions or till the pasta is al dente.
2. Heat a pan over medium theat. Add olive oil and saute the onion for a couple of minutes. Then add the broccoli florets and green peas and saute till cooked. Turn off heat and reserve. (Another method to cook the peas and broccoli is to add them directly to the pasta water after the pasta is almost cooked).
3. Make the roux (sauce) by melting the butter in a pan. Once the butter melts add the flour, cayenne and paprika and whisk together until the roux bubbles.
4. Then add the milk and keep stirring over medium heat until the sauce thickens. This could take around 4-5 minutes.
5. Add the cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until it melts.
6. Add the reserved veggie mixture and the cooked pasta.
7. Garnish with red pepper flakes.
8. Serve hot

Serving size - 1 cup
Number of servings - 4

Stuffed bell peppers

An easy recipe for stuffed peppers.

Ingredients2 medium sized bell peppers (green, red or yellow)
2 medium sized potatoes
1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
1 small onion chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
1. Blanch the peppers (whole) in hot water until slightly tender. Drain and keep aside.
2. Prepare the filling by first cooking the potatoes. An easy method is to microwave them. After they are cooked, peel off the skin and mash them up.
3. Pour oil in a pan, add the onions and fry until transparent.
4. Add the peas and saute.
5. Once the peas are done add the mashed potatoes, cumin powder, chilli powder and salt.
6. Mix well and add the coriander leaves.
7. Cut the tops of the blanched peppers and fill to brim with the potato mixture.
8. Pour oil in a flat bottomed pan and shallow fry the peppers. Cook all sides of the pepper (keep turning the pepper until the skin is slightly charred on all sides).
9. Serve hot or warm.

Serving size - 1 medium bell pepper
Number of servings - 2

To freeze or not to freeze

Visit a grocery store and you will find everything and anything in the freezer section. There are veggies, fruits, yogurt, readymade food. You name it and it's there. Yes we have heard time and again that frozen food is easy to use and saves you a lot of time and effort. But we are always not so sure of its quality. I still buy my spinach and sweet peas from the freezer section. But there are a few things that you can prep at home and freeze them.

For instance, you can freeze green chillies. I buy them from the market and put them straight into the freezer and they are good for even 2 months. I do the same with coriander. Wash the coriander, dry it on a paper towel, chop it and freeze it in plastic containers. Stays good for 3 months. And there are host of other veggies you can freeze too. I buy bell peppers, zucchini, carrots and even corn on the cob from the farmer's market at a very reasonable price. I bring them home wash them, cut them and freeze them. So atleast I can control the quality of the veggies I use. Nevertheless, fresh is the best anyday. But I stay 40 miles away from the Indian store. So the next best alternative is to freeze Indian veggies.