Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pasta Tales




The first time I tried pasta, I was a child and it was in the form of Chowmein. Don’t look surprised. On one of the occasions when my mother couldn’t find egg noodles to prepare chowmein, she, in her ingenuity, had replaced it with spaghetti. And that’s how I had had my first taste of pasta.
Later on, she started trying out recipes with macaroni in order to appease our demands of “something different” for schoolbox lunches. Later, I started buying ready made pasta packets to pacify our hunger pangs out of necessity after marriage.



Even then, I wasn’t what you’d call a pasta aficionado. I really don’t know when I crossed over to being a pasta fan but these days, it is one of my favorite forms of carbs.




I would say in all honesty that my cooking skill are basic but I have made an attempt to learn a few pasta recipes which allows me to
  1. Making a one pot meal for an easy dinner
  2. Make a fool proof meal as long as I don’t overcook the pasta
  3. Show off before guests without having to slave over the stove for long


However, I had to put my pasta experiments on hold once I got pregnant. The pregnancy nausea was so bad that I wasn’t able to handle any cooking smells in the first four months. This definitely meant that I wasn’t going to make pasta at home. These four months saw a loss of appetite as well which meant that I survived on vegetables and fruits mostly during these months. 

Once the first four months were over, fatigue took over and I was too tired to experiment in the kitchen mostly. In my sixth month, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and there ended eating anything I wanted to. I was asked to be on a healthy diet and was asked to track everything I ate. My doctor told me that I’d have to go on medication or insulin injections if my blood sugar couldn’t be controlled by diet alone. This meant that I was supposed eat healthy, track everything I ate and exercise regularly.  In the midst of all the tracking and measuring, I think I gave up on following through my cravings just so that I wouldn’t have to take insulin shots. This was how I spent the last 3 months of my pregnancy.


My due date was decided as March 20th, 2014 and I started my maternity leave on March 7th, 2015. My parents and in-laws came to Bangalore as they wanted to be present when the little one arrived. The house was full of people and it was noisy and fun. Coincidentally, a colleague, a colleague’s wife, my school friend and at least three to four of my hubby’s friends’ wives were pregnant at the same time. So, as the D-day approached, I would hear news about delivery from one quarter or the other. It was getting uncomfortable and I was getting anxious to have the delivery done and over with.



I had stayed on my diet up until the last week when I decided that it was time I got to satisfy my cravings. The top two items on my list was ice cream and pasta, in that order. As my sister was back from the US, it was like I had a personal chef at my beck and calling. And I didn’t want any pasta but the one my sister normally made, pasta with butter garlic prawns.



Finally, it was 18th March, 2014 and I still hadn’t had pasta or ice cream. My next checkup was scheduled for 19th March and the doctor had suggested getting admitted if I didn’t get labor pains until then. Finally, I put my foot down and said that I wasn’t leaving for hospital if I didn’t get my pasta. So on 18th evening, my sister and I got into the kitchen to prepare the pasta that I had been craving for so much. We planned to prepare two types of pasta because I wanted non vegetarian pasta and my mom and mom in law were vegetarians.


So here are the recipes for the pasta preparations we did on the fateful day below.





Cooking Pasta:



1.      Fill a pan with water and add one tablespoon full of salt to it. Allow the water to boil. Make sure that you take enough water to allow the pasta to be completely immersed. The measurement is 4 litre water for 500 grams of pasta approximately.

2.      Once the water begins to boil, add the pasta to the water along with 2 tablespoons of oil. The oil helps to prevent pasta from sticking. 

3.      Test the pasta to identify the stage of cooking. It should be cooked al dente which means that it should still be firm when bitten. 

4.      Once the pasta is al dente, remove it from heat and strain the pasta. 

5.      Ensure that you retain some of the starch water to be used in case the sauce happens to be too dry.





  1. Penne Rigate with butter garlic prawns: I made a few changes by browning the butter, adding grated lemon rind, replacing parsley with lemongrass and adding toasted cashews to add a little crunch.


Recipe measurements





Measurements:

Del Monte Pasta - 250-300 grams
Medium size prawns - 200 grams
Butter  75 grams
Garlic - 70 grams
Chilli Flakes - 5-6 red chillies
Lemon - 1
Lemon grass - 1 long stalk, chopped
Cashews - A handful, toasted




Instructions:
Recipe for the butter garlic prawns sauce:
1.      Add the butter to heated pan and allow it to melt on low flame. Allow the butter to melt completely.


2.      Once it has melted, swirl occasionally and watch closely as the butter will start to foam and gradually change in colour. Once the butter browns, remove the pan from heat immediately so that it doesn’t burn. Allow it to cool before placing back on stove. 


3.      Once the butter cools down a little, place it on stove and add the finely chopped garlic. Sautee until the garlic changes colour slightly. 



4.      Add the chopped lemongrass stalks to the butter. You can leave the stalks as long pieces so that you can easily remove them from the pasta later. 


5.      On low flame, add the prawns to the butter and allow it to cook. I cooked the prawns for approximately 5-6 minutes. Ensure that you don’t cook the prawns for too long as it will make them rubbery. 

6.      Add the red chilly flakes, salt to taste, lemon juice and lemon rind into the pan.  Please check the amount of salt used as pasta is cooked with salt. 








7.      Once the prawns are cooked, add the cooked pasta into the pan. In case you feel it is too dry, add a little starch water reserved from the cooked pasta. 




8.      Tip in the toasted cashews into this butter mixture at the end.


9.      This pasta is quite dry and there wouldn’t be any residual sauce. However, if you do want to have sauce, add a little starch water and mix a little flour to it so that there is sauce. In case you are adding the starch water, add salt only once this is done as the starch water is salted. 



10.   You can sprinkle grated cheese on top before serving. I skipped this as it is quite heavy because of the amount of butter used.



Now for the creamy mushroom pasta sauce:




Ingredients:


1.      Butter: 50 grams

2.      Onion: 2 medium

3.      Mushroom: 400 grams

4.      Parsley: 5 – 6 sprigs

5.      Amul fresh cream: 200 ml
 



Recipe for creamy mushroom sauce:



  1. Add butter to the heated pan and allow it to melt. You can replace the butter with olive oil if you so prefer.




  2. Add the chopped onions to the pan and sautee the onion until it turns pale pink in colour.




  3.  Once the onion is cooked, add the chopped mushrooms to the pan and allow it to cook and release moisture.


  4. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the finely chopped parsley/dried parsley to the pan.


  5.  Add salt and pepper according to your preference.
  6. Once the mushrooms and onions are fully cooked, add the cream to the mixture and allow it to simmer on low flame. Ensure that you don’t boil the cream as it may curdle. If you feel that the cream is too thin, add a little all-purpose flour to thicken the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a little milk or starch water to it.


  7. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper accordingly.



  8. Once the sauce is ready, tip the pasta in.  



  9. You can garnish with parsley, grated cheese and olives before serving up.




    


      Here are the pics of the pastas prepared:

















The postscript of all the cooking done was this:



I finished having my bowlfuls of pasta and ice cream and went to bed at 11:55 pm on 18th march after discussing with my hubby about the next day’s appointment. At 12:05 am on 19th March, my water broke. I picked up my packed bag and told my hubby that it was time to go. The pain began on my way to the hospital. At the end of long ten hours of pain and fatigue, I was gifted with my bundle of joy who turned out to have been waiting for her share of pasta and ice cream before making an appearance. 



      And here’s our official taste tester:






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This post was written as a part of Delmonte Blog Your Way to Italy 

(https://www.facebook.com/DelMonteIndia)






8 comments:

  1. Hey...I am not that good in cooking. But your recipes were simple and easy to grasp. I am going to try it. It look yummy too. And your official taster is too cute...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your pasta made you one of the finalists of #delmonteitalianescapades. I don't like sea food so will try this recipe with chicken.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just got done with the Happy Dance...let me know how it went with chicken...:)

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  3. lovely recipe. Prawns my favorite. I sure will try this. And the photos are awesome!
    ​​​​​​A Rat's​​ Nibble

    ReplyDelete

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