The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, March 16, 2003
What's Cooking

Pasta pleasures for the palate

THERE'S an old Italian proverb that says a day without pasta is like a day without sunshine. Nutritious and easy to cook pasta comes in myriad shapes and sizes and can be prepared in a variety of ways from simple to the exotic. It is a terrific source of complex carbohydrates and paired with vegetables and protein-packed beans and legumes, it becomes the perfect meal.

Fortifying pasta dishes with beans isn’t a new idea. Italian cooks have relied on slow-cooking dried beans as an economical source of protein for centuries. A vast and varied repertoire of pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) recipes is their legacy.

Orecchiette with broccoli


Broccoli 500 gm

Olive oil 1 tbsp

Garlic 6 cloves

Red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp

Cooked chickpeas 1 1/2 cup

Salt 1/2 tsp

Vegetable stock 1 1/4 cup

Tomatoes 3/4 cup

Freshly ground pepper 1/2 tsp

Dried orecchiette pasta 300 gm

Method: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut broccoli into pieces and drop in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain well and set aside.

In a large non-stick karahi, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add chopped garlic and pepper flakes and stir until garlic is transparent. Add blanched broccoli, cooked chickpeas and salt; increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until heated through, for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Season with pepper.

Shortly before the sauce is ready, add orecchiette to a pot of boiling water. Add a few drops of oil to prevent it from sticking. Cook till done. Drain well and place in a large warm serving bowl. Add broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately.


Penne with eggplant

Penne with eggplant
Penne with eggplant


Tomatoes 500 gm

Olive oil 2 tbsp

Garlic 4 cloves

Red pepper flakes 1/8 tsp

Eggplant 4 cups

Chopped fresh basil 1/2 cup

Salt 1/4 tsp

Freshly ground pepper 1/4 tsp

Dried penne pasta 350 gm

Pine nuts toasted 1/3 cup

Method: Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, run tomatoes in a mixer. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over low heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook stirring until garlic is softened. Add mashed tomatoes, increase heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer. In a large non-stick karahi, heat remaining one tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cut eggplant into 1’’ cubes. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in tomato mixture and reduce heat to low. Cover with foil and simmer until eggplant is very tender. Stir in basil, salt and pepper.

Shortly before the sauce is ready, add penne to boiling water. Stir to prevent sticking. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Place penne in a large warm serving bowl. Add eggplant mixture and enough reserved cooking water to moisten and toss to coat. Serve immediately, sprinkled with pine nuts.

Macaroni and cheese


Elbow macaroni 1 1/2 cups

Unsalted butter 2 tbsp

All-purpose flour 2 tbsp

Whole milk 1 cup

Cheddar cheese 1 cup

Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup

Roquefort cheese 1/4 cup

Dry breadcrumbs 1/4 cup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an ovenproof baking dish.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium heat and cook macaroni according to package directions until al dente. Remove from heat, drain and place in baking dish.

Melt butter in saucepan, and whisk in flour. Cook for about two minutes, or until the mixture thickens.

Gradually add milk, whisking constantly, and cook for six to seven minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Grate the cheese and combine one tablespoon of each cheese in a small bowl, and set aside. Add remaining cheese to white sauce and stir until smooth. If needed, reheat cheeses over low heat to melt, and season to taste. Pour the sauce over cooked macaroni in casserole and stir to mix well.

Add breadcrumbs to the remaining cheese, and sprinkle over top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until hot, bubbly and lightly browned on top. Serve hot.

Pasta e fagioli

Pasta is available in a range of palata tickling shapes
Pasta is available in a range of palata tickling shapes


Garlic cloves minced 2

Olive oil 2 tbsp

Tomato sauce 240 gm

Water 1 cup

Baked beans 1 tin

Elbow macaroni 250 gm

Fresh parsley; chopped

Cheese, grated

Method: Fry the garlic gently in the oil until golden brown in a saucepan. Add the tomato sauce and water, and let it cook for 10 minutes.

Add beans and stir gently, continue to cook on simmer. Cook macaroni till al dente, drain and add to bean mixture. Stir gently. If it gets too thick, add a little more water. Add parsley. Serve immediately, or else the pasta will absorb the water.

Pasta and peas


Olive oil 2 tsp

Chopped onion 1/4 cup

Garlic clove, minced 2 cloves

Mushrooms 1/2 cup

Tomato juice 1 cup

Peas 1/2 cup

Mozzarella cheese 60 gm

Cooked elbow macaroni 1/2 cup

Chopped fresh parsley 5 tsp

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: In a saucepan heat oil; add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Add sliced mushrooms and saute over high heat for two minutes or until mushrooms leave water; add tomato juice and bring to a boil.

Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Add peas and cook, stirring occasionally, till the peas are cooked. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Baked pasta dish


Olive oil 1 tbsp

Onions chopped 1/2 cup

Bell peppers chopped 1/2 cup

Mushrooms sliced 1 80 gm

Garlic crushed 3cloves

Tomatoes 7-8

Tomato sauce 200 gm

Tomato paste 1\ 2 cup

Sugar 2 tsp

Basil 2 tsp

Oregano 2 tsp

Pizza seasoning 2 tsp

Salt 1 1/2 tsp

Black pepper 1/2 tsp

Parsley 1/2 tsp

Any pasta shape 180gm

Egg whites 4

Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup

Method: Preheat oven at 350C. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook chopped onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, sugar, basil, oregano, pizza seasoning, salt, black pepper, and parsley. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

In a mixing bowl, combine egg whites, cottage cheese, and parmesan cheese. Stir in pasta mixture and pour into a 13" x 9" x 2" pan. Top with tomato mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired.