Spaghetti with roasted red pepper & cream sauce

Roasting peppers is something that we don’t do often enough. The tender smoky flesh inside all that charred blackness is the heart of this dish, literally and metaphorically speaking.

This simple pasta dish has it all – it’s wholesome, not entirely different from what makes it comforting, and makes for a very fulfilling meal. I understand that we’re only talking pasta here, but how often do we manage to add a completely different dimension to our everyday pasta, right?

I’d come across this recipe a few months ago, but as most things go..um, it went. You know the thing with blogging? You end up focusing on dishes that are ‘different’ – unusual food pairings, unique ingredients and the like. The truth is, even though all that is fun and impressive, most often all I crave is something familiar. Comforting. Even though this recipe came into my life just a few months ago, it’s definitely one that’s here to stay! Continue reading

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Aubergine Parmigiana (Melanzane alla Parmigiana)

Remember that time I made this aubergine and broccoli pasta bake? So this is a slight variation from that, with regard to inspiration (and photo clarity. Thank goodness!) I’m slowly trying to get my head around exploring the plethora of options and features on my DSLR, so please bear with me as I share the developments on this forum. Note to self : Automatic with flash is not the ideal setting. Got it.

The Italians really have it down when it comes to food combinations, and their basic approach to food. They know exactly what ingredients work well together, and more importantly, they believe that simple preparations with fresh ingredients always trumps finickity over-the-top excesses. I love the rustic appeal of their traditional dishes with its irregularities and lack of perfection. Like the Japanese concept of something being Wabi-sabi..I’m all over this.

Coming back to what I was saying..this dish is basically a layered bake with griddled aubergines, Parmesan, a quick home-made tomato sauce, finally topped with breadcrumbs and some Mozzarella. It’s quick to make, easy to assemble, and rates very high on the yumminess quotient. Check and check. Continue reading

SPAGHETTI ALL’ARRABBIATA aka Angry Pasta

The first time I came across this dish, I thought it was some sort of an exotic Italian-Middle eastern fusion type thing. I think that shows in the way that I pronounce it as well..arrrrabiata. Any Italian reading this, please pardon my ignorance (if you’re still reading, you’ll be pleased to know that I didn’t go too crazy with the authenticity of the recipe). But the thing is, when you’ve been pronouncing something wrong for a period of time, even after someone corrects you and you’ve figured out the right pronunciation, you just can’t go back to switching it up, you know?

While we’re on this topic, did you know that ‘arrabbiata’ actually means ‘angry’ in Italian? Anger in the form of fieriness and heat from the chillies. I am a real sucker for food facts.

Also, speaking of authenticity, a true food connoisseur would use Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of the common Parmesan that we tend to substitute it with. It’s the quintessential king of cheeses and can be called ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ only if its production follows a set of stringent rules set forth by the Italian DOC (Controlled designation of origin). One among them is that it has to be made in the months between May and November and only in certain stipulated areas of Italy. A little like how Champagne cannot be used as a generic name for sparkling wine. No wonder a tiny block of this super-fromage costs an arm and a leg!

Anyway, I just used regular Parmesan for this recipe and it tasted divine, but go ahead and indulge in some of the expensive stuff if you are so inclined.

{Quickly want to point out the changes that I made : a pinch of oregano that wasn’t in the recipe, and sugar to balance out the tartness of the tomatoes. Added olives. The measurements of the ingredients are slightly different too}. Continue reading

Baked perfection : AUBERGINE AND BROCCOLI PASTA BAKE

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I love adding fresh veggies to my meal, and am constantly on the hunt to find recipes that can incorporate them. Ordinarily I find vegetarian dishes to be a real downer, so I had to pull out the big guns here..cheese! And not just one, but 2 types; Parmesan for the depth of flavour and Mozzarella for the ooey gooey mess. I may be getting a little carried away with the amount of cheese that I’ve used, but I make no apologies for it. Let’s focus on the broccoli instead, shall we?

This sauce that I’ve used for the macaroni is a slight variation of my mom’s go-to tomato sauce recipe for pizzas, and is very reliable in terms of flavour and prep-time. The overall concept of this dish is inspired by an article I came across in the ‘Good Food’ magazine.

Crispy aubergines, gratinated cheese and the slight (very desirable) tanginess of the tomato sauce make this pasta bake a real winner! You don’t know it yet, but you need this recipe in your life. Continue reading