Lets talk firsts today! Typically as humans we have the proclivity to remember our first times.. That first visit to the beach..the first time you sat on a Ferris wheel, first major fight with your best friend, your first bike, your first all night out wth friends..your first love..first kiss…first time you held a baby n so on… I also remember the first dish I learnt all on my own n made for my hubby…needless to say its something he loved so much it kinda became a Sunday ritual.. over the last 1yr I hv perfected the art that is Pasta…. I adore pasta..No. Lets change that. I love pasta.. I am bonkers about pasta… and i have successfully turned many people into pasta lovers with my dishes… Here’s one such version for the time being..
The ever green, nothing else will do pasta with a creamy bechamel sauce..loaded with veggies and other goodies to make you explode with joy.
Which was ur first self learnt dish??
So, do you agree its beautiful? Agreed? Now that you have agreed to what i am saying, let me be a good gal and give you the low down on it…
Pasta of choice ( i prefer penne or fusilli )
Veg of choice : Red bell pepper, yellow bella pepper, green bell pepper,chopped small,save a few long strips
Mushrooms ( cleaned, dried and chopped fine)
1 red onion ( chopped finely)
Garlic cloves (4-5 )
Parsley (a sprig)
For the sauce:
1/3 cup plain flour
4 1/2 cups milk
75g parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
good pinch ground nutmeg
fresh cream 100 ml
red chilli flakes 1tsp (optional)
salt acc to taste
basil (if fresh 8-10 leaves, if using dried basil 1tsp)
Now that you have your shopping list, lets get started on how you make this .
1. First thing first, start off by boiling water in a big saucepan. Add a bit of salt n olive oil, Once it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta to it and let it cook till al dente ( it should be cooked , but should still have a bite to it) You can check it by pinching the corners of the pasta which should have turned white..or simply take a bite of it!! Follow package instructions for the amount of time it takes as it varies from brand to brand. Once cooked, drain immediately under cold water and keep aside. Save some the pasta water for use later.
2. Next prepare the sauce…obviously!! I have an illness of explaining even the obvious. Don’t hate me for it.. In a non stock pan, pour about 1 tsp of olive oil and the butter. Always add oil with butter to prevent the butter from burning up..Once the butter starts frothing add the garlicly goodnes… Garlic is good.It smells bad raw, but it is what makes your pasta divine..apart from the cheese and the cream etc etc! 😉
PS: Rub a lime wedge on your nails and finger tips to get the raw garlic smell out. Okie..so once the garlic is colored,NOT BROWNED; add in the chopped onion, cook till pink and translucent..then add the bell peppers..add salt, oregano, chilli flakes and saute till cooked but retains the color..
In a separate pan brown the mushrooms in some butter..do not crowd the mushrooms or they wont brown. Add some salt and saute till it leaves water and starts to dry out.. take it off the gas. keep aside.
Now for the basic bechamel sauce.. Note it down.Keep it saved in your memory.. or in your recipe book in the locker..wherever you keep your top secrets, add this to that pile!
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from heat. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil, thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in parmesan, salt and nutmeg…stir again till the cheese melts and is totally incorporated in the sauce..Add the fresh cream, mix really well..everything should be a gleaming lovely pool of cheesy yumminess you wanna dip into now.. DO that. Take a taste.. lick your fingers.. Look with awe at what you created and check the seasonings if needed.
3. Assembling… Just before serving, take a pan..simply use the pan you sauteed the veggies in. Heat up the veggies, add the sauce to the veggie pile.. don’t forget the sauteed buttered mushrooms!! They add a lot of earthy delight to the dish but you can skip it if you aren’t into mushrooms( like my poor ‘HE’)! let it all heat up well.. if you find the sauce too thick at this point simply add some of the reserved pasta water till it reaches a good consistency..Which means it should not be too runny, nor should it be gooey.. just a coating of a wooden spoon kinda consistency. Add in the pasta..stir everything well.. add in some more oregano or chilli flakes if desired…
Serve into pasta bowls and top up with strips of veggie, parsley and basil… And like the icing on the cake, don’t forget to shave some parmesan on top before serving it!
Enjoy hot and steaming with a side of simple grilled chicken breast, garlic bread or a simple salad.