Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pasta with Rainbow Veggies/United Colours of Pasta-ton!

The easiest way to keep yourself away from pastries would be to bake them yourself. By the time you're done taste-testing and batter-tasting and baking yet another batch of cookies, you don't want to see another one. Only for the next few hours, though. You'll be putting your hand into the cookie jar the most, if you're, well, me.

I do make things without vanilla and chocolate; here's one of them. Pasta with Rainbow Veggies. A great way to deal with those boring weekday dinners. You've had a sandwich or less for lunch, and you want a proper dinner, to combat the weekday blues.

You know what my medical advice to you is? A pot of pasta, bursting to the seams with vegetables, with a hint of comforting cheese; it fills your whole house with the smells of tomato, garlic, onion and oregano. Don't go around getting pizza cravings now.

And it's healthy enough for you to have an excuse to indulge over the weekend (get yourself a steak au poivre with a side of potatoes!).You meet atleast two days' worth of your vegetable requirement. And veggies are so forgiving; besides cleaning up your cells, they don't give you food poisoning if undercooked or go all eraser-textured if overcooked. I also used a bechamel, so I can get creaminess in the dish with less than a tablespoon of butter.

It isn't restaurant-style Italian, so don't expect pancetta to be fried or carbonaras being cooked. It's fancy enough to be eaten with a fork, and not so fancy that it tastes weird.

Pasta with Rainbow Veggies:


1 bag of baby corn (up to 2 cups when chopped)
200g mushrooms, quartered.
3 bell peppers/capsicum (I use red, orange and green), cut into slices.
3 tomatoes, pureed.
1 onion, chopped.
5 cloves garlic, quartered.
1 tbsp butter.
1 tbsp all-purpose flour (maida)
1 cup milk.
1/2 cup ready-made pasta sauce (can be substituted with 2 tbsp if ketchup).
250 g pasta (penne, fettucini, spiral, bowtie/even macaroni).
Olive oil-2 tbsp.
Dried herbs-2 tbsp, and some more to sprinkle.
A handful of cheese-either parmesan/feta/mozzarella.
Dried red chillies-3 or 4.
Salt and pepper-to taste.


1) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in your pasta; when al dente (meaning they still have  a bite to them, not too soggy), take it out and wash with cold water to stop the cooking process.

2)Make your bechamel-the white sauce that goes on an Au Gratin.

Heat a tablespoon of butter over low heat. Stir in the maida and make a roux.


When golden, pour in the milk while whisking actively. Let the bechamel concentrate over low heat, until you have a creamy consistency. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg (optional). Keep aside.

Don't let any floury lumps remain-it is not appetizing.

3)Prep your veggies. Make sure they're all equally sized pieces so they finish cooking at the same time.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick vessel over med-high. Add in the baby corn (it takes the longest to cook). After a minute of tossing, drop in the chopped onion and garlic. Toss until the onion turns transclucent.

4)Add in the mushroom. Cook for 2 minutes. Add in the bell-peppers. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add the pepper and salt.

Less is more. You can always add extra salt later. And I strongly recommend you pound some vathal (dried red chillies) or add chilli flakes to the vegetables. It cuts through the homogenous bechamel.

5)Add the tomato puree (it'll taste better if you've boiled it before blitzing). Cook until the raw smell of it goes away. Approximately 5-7 minutes.

Add the readymade pasta sauce. If you don't have any, increase the tomato puree mix and add tomato paste/ketchup. I only had it because I got it on an offer (free bag of Fusilli with the Pasta Sauce). I am not a fan of readymade pasta sauce, but it's handy on a weekday, I won't lie.

6)Cook down for 10 minutes. Add the herbs. Taste the mix, and adjust the seasoning according. Toss in the cooked pasta until well coated.

7)Add in the white sauce you've made. Toss some more.

Don't keep mixing the pasta with a spoon; you'll make it all gloopy by overworking the gluten.

8)Spread the pasta out on a baking tray. Sprinkle a handful of cheese. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 200 degrees celcius (maximum, you don't want to dry it out).

9)Serve with a slice of garlic bread. This is simply to mop up all the juices and sauce from your plate. Yum.

Recipe Source: Me! Don't be too scared.

And I know I've been doing too many "Loaded with Vegetables", "Super Healthy, Super Tasty!" type of recipes lately. So next time, it's going to be a meat and cheese affair. At least, that's what I told my family, and that's what I'm telling you.

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