Friday, April 27, 2012

Pasta with spring flavours

Tonight's Menu
Whole Grain Bow tie pasta
with asparagus and pine nuts
Wine Pairing: Pinot Grigio

Lemony bow tie pasta with asparagus and pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes
Pasta can be enjoyed in every season and what makes it special is the seasonal ingredients and subtle flavors. This version is fresh and tangy and a wonderful addition to a spring menu. I love adding peppers to pasta but you can omit them as there are loads of other veges here.

Pasta with spring flavors
Ingredients: serves 4
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb mushrooms thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic grated
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1 inch length
1 large red pepper or 1/2 lb sugar snap peas
2 tbsp diced sun dried tomatoes soaked in 2-3 tbsp dry white wine or water
3 cups whole grain bow tie (or fusilli) pasta
1/2 cup fresh coriander and mint leaves chopped
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  1. Put a large pot of salted water to boil. 
  2. Toast pine nuts in a hot pan for 2-3 minutes, keep aside. 
  3. Heat oil in a large pan. Add garlic and all the vegetables and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the sun dried tomatoes along with the liquid and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat till vegetables are tender crisp. Remove from heat. 
  4. Meanwhile cook pasta as per package directions until al dente. 
  5. Drain pasta and add to vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, add chopped fresh herbs and lemon juice and give it a quick toss. 
  6. Serve topped with pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Lemony bow tie pasta with asparagus and pine nuts

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spicy Penne Rigate with Sausage and Peppers

Tonight's Menu
Spicy Penne Rigate
Grilled Peppers
Grilled hot Italian Sausage
Wine Pairing: Merlot, Zinfandel

Spicy Penne Rigate with Hot Italian sausages and grilled peppers

Combining the velvety spicy tomato sauce with hot Italian sausages and grilled bell peppers creates a delectable pasta dish liked by all. I always use the Penne Rigate for this combo since it has more ridges to accumulate the tomato sauce. The plum tomatoes combined with cherry tomatoes give it the tartness to balance out the heat from red pepper flakes and Italian sausages.

Make use of the grill for the peppers and sausages while you boil the pasta and simmer the sauce. Then combine all and its dinner time.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2-3 hot Italian sausages
4 bell peppers of assorted colours cut in strips
3 cups whole wheat penne pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic grated
1 red onion chopped
2 cups plum tomatoes crushed
2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
2 tsp dry basil
1 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
handful fresh coriander chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano or your choice of cheese ( I used feta )

Grilled Peppers 
  1. Keep a large pot of water with 1 tsp salt to boil and preheat the grill. 
  2. Take bell peppers in a large bowl and toss them in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp dry basil. 
  3. Grill the sausages and peppers till sausages are fully cooked through and peppers are slightly charred.  
  4. While these are grilling heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and sauté garlic, onion and red chilli flakes till onions turn pink about 3-4 minutes. 
  5. Add the tomatoes and basil along with salt and pepper and cook on high till the mixture starts to boil. Simmer covered for 5-7 minutes. 
  6. Boil pasta according to package directions until al-dente, drain. 
  7. When the sauce is done take it off the heat and add boiled pasta along with grilled peppers. Mix to combine. 
  8. Slice the grilled sausages. 
  9. Serve pasta in individual bowls topped with sliced sausage, grated or crumbled cheese and fresh coriander. 
Spicy Penne Rigate with Hot Italian sausages and grilled peppers

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

Tonight's Menu
Sheppard's Pie
Garden Salad
Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel

Minced Lamb pie with a mashed potato crust

A classic English recipe, Shepherd's pie or Cottage pie is a meat and vegetable casserole with a crust of mashed potatoes. Traditionally made with lamb or mutton, this was a way to use leftover meat to create a new meal.
In North America beef is often substituted for lamb. This is a complete meal on its own represented by several essential food groups, just serve a fresh crisp salad on the side.
Use very little oil for cooking the lamb as there is nothing worse than an oily mince. To moisten and add tonnes of flavor use stock. I made one big large pie, but you can also make individual ones in small dishes to be served one per person.

Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients: (generously serves 6)
For the lamb
2 tsp olive oil
1.5 lbs minced lamb
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 Spanish onion
2 large carrots
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tbsp tomato purée
splash of red wine
1/2 tsp each thyme and rosemary
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup stock
salt and pepper to taste
For the mashed potatoes
4 large potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
parmigiana cheese (optional)
salt and pepper

  1. Put the potatoes for boiling while you prepare the lamb. 
  2. In a large pan heat olive oil and cook minced lamb for 1-2 minutes till all the pink disappears. 
  3. Grate garlic, onion and carrots and add to the mince. Cook everything together for another 2 minutes stirring constantly. 
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée, wine and herbs. Season. Cook on high for about a minute to incorporate the tomato into the mixture. 
  5. Add stock and peas and bring to boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Keep aside. 
  6. To make the potatoes, mash the boiled potatoes with butter and milk to form a smooth fluffy texture. Some recipes call for egg yolks to moisten the potato, but I prefer the butter and milk combo. 
  7. Season with salt and pepper and add a generous amount of grated cheese(if using) and mix well. 
  8. preheat oven to 400°F. 
  9. Grease the baking dish (or dishes if making individual pies) and pour the minced lamb mixture at the bottom. Top it with the mashed potato and smooth out as if icing a cake. 
  10. Top with grated cheese and fluff the top with a fork to give a wavy ridged effect. 
  11. Bake in the top third of the oven for 15-20 minutes till golden brown and crisp. Serve hot with a mixed salad drizzled with light vinaigrette.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fenugreek and mung dumplings

Split de-husked mung (Source)
Mung/moong/green gram is a legume in the same plant family as peas and lentils. It is a high source of protein, fiber and antioxidants, and nutrients including manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins. Mung beans are one of the healthiest sources of plant protein.

Mung bean/ green whole gram is also available in its split de-husked form. Once de-husked, these beans are yellow in color. Mung dumplings are made from these lentils. The pulse is soaked for a couple of hours and then coarsely ground with dry spices. Small spoonfuls of this mixture are dropped on to greased plates and sun dried for about 2 days. These dumplings can be stored in air tight containers for a few months. A great food preservation method. You can buy these at the Indian grocery stores.       

Methi/fenugreek is a green leafy vegetable with oblong slightly bitter leaves and is used as a herb (dried leaves), fresh veggie (fresh leaves, sprouted seeds) and as a spice (seed form). Used extensively in the Indian cuisine it is a rich reservoir of medicinal properties with several health benefits. Read more about it here.

This unique very earthy and rustic dish from the Marwadi kitchen is a lip smacking stir fry that can be made in minutes and adds a multitude of flavor to the dinner table.

Fenugreek and mung dumplings/mung vadi/mangori (मेथी मंगौड़ी / मूँग वड़ी )
Sun dried mung dumplings (मूँग वड़ी)
2 bunches methi (fenugreek)
About 20 sun dried mung dumplings
2-3 tbsp oil
Pinch hing (asefoetida)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
Few curry leaves
1 small red onion chopped fine
1/2 inch fresh ginger, julienne
2 small tonatoes, pureed
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
1/2 cup water
Fresh coriander to serve
  1. Wash and drain the methi leaves. Chop fine and keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan on medium. Add the dried mung dumplings and fry for a few minutes till they turn golden. 
  3. Remove from heat, drain and keep aside.
  4. In the remaining oil in a pan, add the hing, mustard and cumin seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds. Add curry leaves and onion. Saute on medium high for a few minutes till golden brown. 
  5. Add tomato, ginger and rest of the dry spices. Saute till you see oil at the sides of the pan. At this point add the chopped methi and fry for 1-2 minutes. 
  6. Add the fried mangori/mung dumplings and water. Bring to boil and simmer. Cook covered till methi and mung vadi is cooked through. By this time all water should have dried up. If not then cook on high to dry up the water.  
  7. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with roti.