Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leftover rice? No sweat!

Scene 1: I have a splitting headache, it is the middle of the week, my son continuously plays his recorder and I have to keep up with the "good job!" so as to encourage him, even though the sound is in fact piercing through my ear drums and hitting my already aching head thus making it ache even more..........and amidst all this, the brain is thinking: What the heck should I cook?? And then I make a smart move and pop in a couple ibuprofen capsules followed by some ginger tea. The headache soon goes away but the brain is still thinking: What the heck should I cook?

Scene 2: I open the refrigerator with the hope of finding some leftovers that can be eaten tonight. But all I find is a bowl of leftover lentils and a rice cooker pretty full of well, plain rice. I immediately disregard the lentils as boring and that leaves me with all that plain white rice.

Scene 3: The brain comes up with a solution soon enough: Leftover rice+veggies+shrimp+soy sauce= AWESOME shrimp & veggie fried rice!! 

That is definitely a simple yet brilliant solution. And so here is how I usually make fried rice. There can be several variations to this- you know, if you are pure vegetarian, just stick to veggies. If you are a "vegetarian- but-I-eat-sea food," then throw in the shrimp. If you are vegetarian but also eat eggs, then throw in some scrambled get the idea.......oh and brown rice works great too.


Cooked plain rice, Assortment of vegetables (I typically use garlic, ginger, green onions, carrots, bell pepper, peas, bok choy, sometimes cabbage, broccoli......anything I feel like, really), soy sauce, veggie bouillon for extra flavor (optional), shrimp, black pepper and extra salt if needed (typically you don't because the soy sauce makes up for all the required salt) and don't forget some oil for cooking!

  1. I put in a little bit of oil into a pot/pan and then throw in the veggies and quickly stir fry it all. I then add a cube of veggie bouillon followed by shrimp and then soy sauce. I stir again. (If using cooked shrimp, no sweat. If using raw shrimp, make sure you cook it- you know, it should turn pink and sort of curl up). 
  2. I then add the cooked rice into this pot with all that veggie & shrimp goodness. Followed by another dash of soy sauce and then mix everything up. I finally add some freshly ground pepper.
  3. Sometimes I scramble a couple eggs and then add it to the fried rice before serving. I always keep some ketchup & some chilli sauce on the side if anybody wants.

 Yummy fried rice! Did you notice that I did not use a single tomato here?!

Scene 4: We are all sitting at the table thoroughly enjoying the yummy shrimp & veggie fried rice. My son has put his recorder away. My headache has long gone. Our tummies are happy. The day has ended on a good note!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Palak Paneer

I always have spinach on my Costco list. I love that box of organic baby spinach, all washed and ready to use. And what is the one thing I usually end up making with those lovely green leaves? Palak Paneer, of course! Also known as Saag Paneer in most Indian restaurants and pretty popular too. (Palak= spinach, Saag= leafy greens). As for paneer- simply put, it is an Indian cottage cheese that you can make easily at home. All you need is some milk (2% reduced fat or err, whole milk) and something acidic such as lime juice or vinegar. As for me, well, I just pick up my paneer from Costco. Yep, Costco carries paneer now!

I usually like to mix up a couple different kinds of leafy greens together for this preparation. For instance maybe some swiss chard plus spinach or kale plus spinach or collard greens plus spinach etc or well, a nice mix of all of these. Of course, plain spinach is just fine.


A good amount of spinach (remember when cooked, spinach reduces in quantity.........), a couple cloves of garlic, a few green chillies (depends on how much heat you want), a medium onion finely chopped, 1 tomato (optional), cumin seeds, oil and of course salt.

The Spinach:

There's that old way of frying the spinach in a good deal of oil that completely destroys all the nutrients from the spinach. Then there is the completely oil-less version where you just cook the spinach in some extra water and go from there. And then there is my version that uses a little bit of oil and a little bit of water without destroying all the good stuff and retaining the taste.

I take a pot/pan, put in a little bit of oil and then throw in the ready-to-use spinach. Throw in a couple cloves of garlic as well as some lovely thai green chillies. Sometimes I add a chopped tomato to this as well. I stir everything up and add a wee bit of salt. By then anyway the spinach starts to wilt--- you know how quickly it cooks up. That's it. I add a quarter cup or so of water. It is all cooked within 5 minutes! I then let it stand to cool off before I puree it.

 Spinach all ready to be pureed

The Paneer:

While the spinach is cooling off, I prep up my paneer. I cut up the paneer into bite sized cubes (you could do cuboids...........). Earlier I used to just use "raw" paneer as it is. But of late I prefer to brown it up. Now again, there is that old way of literally frying up the paneer pieces in oil and then there is the total opposite option of baking. My method is much simpler and I don't even have to switch on the oven (I don't use any oil either and it is yummy!). I just get my non-stick pan going and then drop in the paneer pieces one by one. Within under 4 minutes, all the paneer cubes are browned up (you gotta flip them once--- common sense!).

Browning up the paneer cubes in my non-stick pan (paneer by itself is pretty fatty........)

And finally:

1. I then puree the cooled spinach with my neat little hand processor (more convenient than the food processor for this dish). And then add the browned paneer cubes into this puree. I usually have to add some extra water to fix the consistency- should be not too thin, nor too thick.

2. In the same pan that I used to brown up the paneer, I add a teaspoon or two of oil, splutter some cumin seeds and sautee the chopped onion. I finally fold this into the almost ready palak paneer. I add some salt to taste. I mix up everything and give it one more round of heating for about a couple minutes---- there is no more cooking needed at this point........and ta da! Palak Paneer is ready to be eaten with rice or chapattis or couscous or quinoa--- your choice! ;)

Mmm, yummy palak paneer!

Look at the gorgeous green color and the lovely browned up paneer-- DELICIOUS!

I used to think that palak paneer is so fancy and must take a lot of effort to make. But in reality it is THE simplest thing to whip up. So yeah, you can eat "fancy" even on a crazy weeknight!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Rockin' Chicken with Couscous

I have never been to Morocco and neither have I been to a Moroccan restaurant. I don't have any Moroccan yeah, basically I have never eaten Moroccan food. I have however watched a few shows on Travel channel and other foodie channels and have a general idea about Moroccan food. So yesterday I thought hey, why not attempt some Moroccan food? And that is how last evening's menu was set- couscous with my version of Moroccan chicken- My Rockin' Chicken!! Get it?!

The Spice Rub:

Cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric powder, red crushed pepper.

I took the cumin, cinnamon and cloves in a m-wave safe bowl and m-waved it for about 40 seconds to gently roast. Then I added the red crushed pepper and turmeric and powdered it all in my nifty little coffee grinder.

 The Spice Rub

The Chicken:

I bought a little tray of 4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on. Took off the skin and then rubbed that lovely spice rub all over. Gotta make sure you massage the chicken with that spice rub to get all the goodness into the meat. I also added a splash of lemon juice and sprinkled some salt. Gave it one more quick massage and covered and put it away in the refrigerator. As the rule goes, 30 minutes is a good amount of time for marination--- but more the better. I did this in the afternoon so it was way more than 30 minutes........

Chicken with the spice rub sitting in the fridge

And then My Rockin' Chicken:

Soon it was evening and time to cook dinner. My everyday cooking pot was going to be that special clay pot with the conical lid that is used in Moroccan cooking. Hey gotta make-do with what you have!

I took some oil in the pot and heated it and then put in the 4 thighs packed with the spice rub one by one into the hot oil. Allowed that bottom side to get browned up and then flipped the pieces over to brown up the other side. Looked very yummy!
Well browned and browning up the other side too

While the other side was browning up, I roughly chopped up some garlic, onion, carrots and potatoes. I wish I had some kind of squash- that would have been a good addition too.

Special Stuff: And then I threw in a handful of dried apricots and some blanched almonds. Ooooh yeah!

Added a tablespoon of tomato paste (whole tomatoes would work just fine), some extra water and salt. Put the lid on the pot and allowed everything to simmer for 25 minutes. My Rockin' Chicken was on its way to getting ready!

The Couscous:

While the chicken and veggies were simmering away, I prepared the couscous. This took literally less that 5 minutes! Boiled some water. Added some salt and a dash of olive oil and then poured this hot water into the couscous. Covered it up. That's it! All that I needed to do was to fluff it up and serve.


Served my version of Moroccan chicken on a bed of couscous and garnished with cilantro. The chicken was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious with that cumin-cinnamon goodness. The apricots added a lovely sweetness to the whole concoction. Not overwhelmingly sweet, mind you! And the huge chunks of veggies were delicious. The almonds added a nice almost-crunchy texture. It was simply outstanding.

My Rockin' Chicken on a bed of Couscous

I know what I am going to cook for my next party! And I bet it'll be much appreciated!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tomato Chutney

This is another chutney made frequently by yours truly. Involves a little more "cooking" than the onion chutney as well as a few extra ingredients. Still very simple and delicious, of course!


Tomato, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, peanuts or sesame seeds- your choice, green or red chillies- again, your choice, salt and oh, some oil.

  1. Roughly chop up a nice juicy tomato.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds and cumin seeds and throw in the chopped tomato and the chillies.
  3. Add salt to taste, stir and cook the tomato--- takes about 3 to 5 minutes. Set it aside to cool.
  4. Take a handful of peanuts in a m-wave safe bowl and run the m-wave until the nuts are roasted. If you use sesame seeds, do the same. One thing to note is that sesame seeds tend to "jump" as they heat up, so don't be surprised if you find some sesame jumping action going on inside the m-wave!
  5. Then I put the roasted peanuts/sesame seeds into the food processor and run it a couple times until the peanuts/sesame seeds are powdered. Then I add the cooled tomato into this and blend it all into a nice chutney.
  6. To finish off with that extra touch, splutter some mustard seeds and maybe some kari patta and pour onto/into the chutney. 
Finally, eat and enjoy!

Deilicious Tomato Chutney, sans that extra touch of spluttered mustard seeds.........

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Ultimate Masala Dosa- Part 2

So I went to my oven this morning and took out the pot with the dosa batter I made last night. I removed the lid and peeked inside. I was thrilled to see that the batter had nicely risen. Fermentation successful!

Observe the bubbles........ perfectly fermented dosa batter

Beautiful consistency- not too thick, not too thin

I then put away the fermented batter into the refrigerator since I was going to make dosas for dinner and I did not want the batter to over-ferment and get all sour and stinky (yeah, that could happen! While some people do like that extra fermented taste---I don't). However, I got the other items ready. I had a busy evening ahead and therefore wanted to be done with all the preparation in advance.

The Accompaniments:

The most important accompaniment to a masala dosa is well, the masala itself. Like I mentioned in Part 1 of The Ultimate Masala Dosa, the masala is basically a smashed potato filling. So here is how I make the masala:
  1. I cook a few potatoes in the pressure cooker. Any kind should work, though I prefer the Yukon Gold kind just because I like the natural sunny color and the texture. My pressure cooker takes 4 minutes to cook those taters. 
  2. I meanwhile finely chop up some onion and slit a few green chillies. I also like to use kari patta or curry leaves just because I simply love the aroma. Besides you gotta use kari patta if you are making South Indian food! 
  3. I take a little bit of oil in a pan, temper some mustard seeds and then throw in the chopped onion, chillies and kari patta. I add salt and turmeric powder to this and sautee it all. I make sure to add some extra salt so that I don't have to bother adding salt again after incorporating the cooked taters into this. 
  4. While the onions are sweating, I peel the skin off the potatoes and roughly chop them up before throwing them into the cooked onions. At this step, I switch off the stove. 
  5. I roughly smash up the potatoes and then mix everything up. The masala is now ready! 
Mmm, the gorgeous yellow masala for my dosas!

The next thing you need is a chutney. Now there are a variety of chutneys that can be eaten with a dosa or a masala dosa. My mom makes this superb coconut chutney with green chillies and cilantro. Of late I have been making this tomato chutney as well as a chutney with onions and red chillies. I made these two again today. (Recipes are included in my Chutney/Pesto/Sauce section).

There, the accompaniments were ready and all I had to do was actually go ahead and make dosas later in the evening.

Finally, making of the Dosa:  
  1. I get my not-so-non-stick pan heated. 
  2. I then pour some batter onto that hot pan with the help of a ladle and immediately start spreading it with the ladle itself in circular motion so as to create a round, thin dosa. I add a wee bit of oil around the circumference of the dosa and in the center too. This sort of fries the dosa thereby cooking it. Soon enough the bottom part of the dosa begins to turn brown, thus indicating that the dosa is pretty much done.
  3. And then I spoon in some of that potato masala into one half of the dosa and then fold the dosa- like a taco.
  4. And the masala dosa is ready!
 First scoop of batter.........

Spread out with the help of the ladle

Spoon in the masala into one half of the dosa

Folded over like a taco

A couple crisp dosas with two kinds of chutney ready to be gobbled down! 

A few pointers:
  • Usually the very first dosa turns out not-so-great. But no worries. As the pan gets hotter, the dosas turn out way better. 
  • Some people prefer their dosas thick, white and soft--- in that case there is no need to spread it out much with the ladle--- in fact then it is exactly like a pancake, with that extra step of flipping involved. 
  • I know I said that hotter the pan, better the dosa. Well, a slight catch there---- if the batter starts sticking to the pan as you try to spread it out, that means that the pan is a little too hot. When that happens, I just sprinkle some cold water onto the pan to cool it down a bit and then resume again. 
  • I love my dosa with sambar (a South Indian lentil and vegetable medley), the recipe for which I shall write another day. (Since I was a bit busy today, I skipped making sambar.......)
  • If you are a health freak, you can use a non-stick pan and not use any oil at all. But well, I must tell you that everything tastes better with some grease.......

So is this THE Ultimate Dosa afterall? Nope, because it still does not match my mom's dosas nor CTR's dosas. In fact it probably never will. However, in this part of the world, this is indeed THE Ultimate Masala Dosa that my family has access to. And that sure makes me one proud mama! :)


Onion chutney- the 5 minute deal

Now a days when I make dosas I make this excellent chutney with onion, red chillies and coconut. It literally takes 5 minutes to make and tastes outstanding.

I use:

1 medium onion, a few red chillies (if I am out of red chillies, I just use red crushed pepper), grated coconut, tamarind paste and salt. (The grated coconut and tamarind paste is available at any IGS).

On their way to becoming a chutney

My Method:
  1. I roughly chop up the onion and throw it in the food processor followed by a tablespoon or so of grated coconut, 5-6 red chillies (or a tablespoon of red crushed pepper), a teaspoon of tamarind paste and salt to taste. (I sometimes add some jaggery too for a hint of sweetness in the background. Jaggery is available again at any IGS. If not jaggery, sugar is fine too).
  2. I run the food processor to finely blend everything together into a chutney.
Err, yeah! That's it! The chutney is ready. If I am in the mood, I temper some mustard seeds separately and mix it up with the chutney for added taste.

The 5 minute Onion Chutney

This chutney can be eaten with dosas or chappatis. Works in sandwiches too. Perfect balance of flavors- the bite from the onion, the heat from the red chillies and the tang from the tamarind. And best of all, takes only 5 minutes to make! Heck, if you think about it, there is absolutely NO COOKING involved!! How cool is that!

Note: Don't forget to brush your teeth and floss too, if possible, after eating this chutney..........

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Ultimate Masala Dosa- Part 1

My mom makes THE best Masala Dosas in the whole entire world. Next in line would be CTR. CTR is a tiny little restaurant in Malleswaram, Bangalore. Now sadly for me, both my mom and CTR are about 9000 miles away and so I get to eat those scrumptious dosas only once every couple years. Yeah, tell me about it--- ridiculously sad. But I can't just sit here all sad and glum, yearning for their dosas every day, now can I?

I used to get those ready-to-make dosa packets from the Indian Store. You just take the mix (full of unnecessary sodium bicarbonate) and add some water and then make the dosas. Pretty blech, if you ask me. I stopped buying those. Then a couple years ago, the Indian Store started carrying the actual batter. So there was no need to mix up a powder with water- it was pre-made and well, definitely way more convenient. But I soon discovered that the batter was well, not great, in fact not good at all. Then my cousin V advised that I should just make it at home. My first reaction was, "Uggh! Soak all that stuff and then grind it all and then allow it to ferment?? Too much work!!" But then, after much reluctance, I decided to give it a shot. And I have not looked back ever since!

What is Dosa?

In my dictionary, I like to define Dosa as a South Indian rice and lentil "pancrepe" (somewhere between a pancake and a crepe) and a Masala Dosa is basically the same pancrepe with some beautiful jazzed up smashed potato filling.

In this post I shall tell you how I go about with the very first and basic step- making of the dosa batter. If I want to make dosas on a Thursday, I make the batter on Wednesday. So really, there are two parts to this whole dosa-making process. Therefore I call this Part 1.

Ingredients for Dosa Batter:
  1. Rice (any kind of rice should be fine, except maybe sticky rice. My mom says no to Basmati, but I have used it and have had no issues......)
  2. Urad Dal or White Lentil- available at any Indian Grocery Store (IGS) (picture follows)
  3. Salt
  4. Fenugreek Seeds
  5. Toor Dal or Pigeon Pea- again, available in any IGS
  6. Rice Flakes
  7. Water
P.S.: Ingredients 4,5 & 6 are totally optional. I just use them coz my mom said so. Apparently the fenugreek is good for the tummy and the other two just impart better texture and color to the end product, the Dosa. 

Urad Dal or White Lentil

Fenugreek Seeds (called Methi Daana in Hindi)

Toor Dal or Pigeon Peas

Rice Flakes (Poha)

I know, I know, the ingredients' list seems pretty long and complicated, but hang in there with me--- I promise that this is EASY! Besides, like I mentioned above, you don't even have to use 3 of the ingredients from that list if you don't want to........ so there, you can go  "Phew" now!

  1. Per mom's instructions, I take 3 measures of rice in a container. I wash the rice a couple times or so to remove any unwanted foreign particles. Then I soak the washed rice in water.
  2. I add a teaspoonful each of fenugreek seeds, toor dal and rice flakes to the above and cover the container and proceed to the next step.
  3. I take 1 measure of Urad Dal in another container and wash it like I wash the rice, you know, a couple times or so. Then soak the dal in water, cover the container and then leave it. 
That's it. I leave the rice and dal soaking away, at least for 2 hours. The soaking helps soften the grain, thereby making it easy to grind into a nice smooth batter.

Top container has the rice (+fenugreek+toor dal+poha) soaking and bottom one has the urad dal soaking

Grinding- Making of Dosa Batter:
  1. After 2 or 3 hours, I discard the water from the containers. I then take the rice in my blender, add cold water to it and blend it into a nice smooth batter. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes, max 4. In the beginning I suggest you start adding water in batches, little by little, so as to avoid making the batter too thin. Remember, this is somewhere between a pancake and a crepe and so the consistency has to be neither too thick nor too thin.
  2. I then pour this rice batter into a big enough container. The container has got to be a tad bit larger than the actual quantity of batter because the batter is going to be left to ferment. Upon fermentation, the level of the batter will rise and if the container is not big enough, the batter will actually flow out of the container and it will be one big mess and I say this with experience, yessiree! It usually takes a couple rounds to finish grinding all the rice.
  3. And then I proceed to do the same with the dal. The only glitch here is that the dal tends to get ground very fast and then starts sticking to the blade of the blender. OK, not trying to scare you, but you just gotta be prepared. As soon as you hear the blade make a weird sound, you must stop and add some more cold water. This takes no more than 2 minutes. Just keep adding cold water until the weird sound stops. 
  4. I then pour this dal batter (which, BTW, is so lovely to touch--- it is super smooth and silky and you  might be tempted to dab some on your face.......) into the rice batter, add some salt to this and then give it a couple stirs. 
  5. Finally I cover it up and set it aside on the counter if it is a nice hot summer day or put in the oven like I usually end up doing in this part of the world where it is usually overcast and chilly. I keep the oven light on for warmth that helps with the fermentation. I leave it in the oven with that light on for the whole night. 
Dosa Batter sitting in Appi's Multipurpose Oven (yeah, I do store some other kitchen stuff in my oven....... hey, I don't live in a palace, you see!)

There, Part 1 of the dosa-making process is over. I did that today and right now my dosa batter is quietly fermenting away in the oven. Tomorrow morning I shall take it out of the oven and make sure it has indeed fermented well enough for me to proceed to Part 2.

Until then, I say to my dosa batter- Happy Fermenting!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quinoa Delight

My brother has been raving about quinoa (pronounced KeenWaa) for many months now. Supposedly packed with a lot of good stuff. I remember my friend telling me about it as well. So finally I decided it was time to give it a try. I had some wild rock fish lying in the fridge. I thought hmm, how about some quinoa with some of that fish and maybe some baked broccoli? Sounded pretty good.

 The Quinoa:
  1. Took 2 cups of quinoa and washed it about 3-4 times. The way you wash it is basically the same way you would wash rice........ you know, wash and rinse out the water a few times before adding the final water for cooking. The only thing to keep in mind with quinoa is that the seeds (yeah!) are so tiny that they just fall out along with the water. Therefore the best way is to use a strainer- that way you don't end up with all that quinoa in the sink. The other thing to keep in mind is that you gotta wash it well a few times to remove that outer bitter saponin coating.
  2. Added 4 cups of water to the washed quinoa in the rice cooker. Figured a 2:1 ratio should work fine (water:quinoa). Also added a pinch of salt and a cube of veggie bouillon for flavor.
  3. Switched on the rice cooker to do its thing. 
The Broccoli: 
  1. Cut up the broccoli into florets. And then gave the florets a quick wash. 
  2. Took a baking pan and spread out the broccoli florets. Smashed up a clove of garlic and added it to the broccoli and then sprinkled some salt and some ground pepper. Finally drizzled some oil and mixed it all up.
The Wild Rock Fish:
  1. Made a beautiful marinade with some buttermilk (yogurt would be better, I think), salt, black pepper, fresh coarsely ground mustard seeds and some vinegar for acidity (lemon juice should be just fine). 
  2. Placed the fish fillets into a baking dish and poured in the marinade. Oh, I salted the fish before pouring in the marinade. 
  3. Then put it in the refrigerator to let it all marinate. I gave it only about 10 mins. I think 30 mins would work way better. 
I pre-heated the oven to 425 degrees and then baked both the broccoli and the fish together for about 20 mins. That is the best part of this recipe: 1 temperature, 2 items, same cooking time! How cool is that!

The fish and the broccoli baking together

After about 15 mins, I took out the broccoli, grated some cheddar cheese into it, tossed it once and then put it back into the oven. Meanwhile the fish was almost done--- nice and bubbling and ohhh, the smell was simply fabulous.

Just as the baking was done, the rice cooker went off. I tasted the quinoa and it was perfect! The only question was whether or not the other 3 would like it.

Delicious Quinoa with broccoli and wild rock fish

To my pleasant surprise, they loved it!! The quinoa was perfectly cooked and the texture was lovely. The broccoli with that melted cheddar was nice and crispy and the fish was full of that mustard goodness and cooked to perfection. What a delightful meal!

If you haven't had Quinoa yet, go right ahead and get some today. Trust me, you will love it!

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Strawberries on Toast

    This is another one of my jiffy (rare) desserts and lemme tell ya, it is high on the taste factor as well as the health factor! All I use are strawberries and some old bread. Yeah! Not kidding! That's it! (If you want to serve it at a party, some butter and sugar would be great........).

    So this is what I do if I decide to make it for a party. The good thing is that this can be a dessert or a starter, that I think is pretty cool:

     I take: 

    Strawberries, Vanilla Essence, sugar, mint leaves, unsalted butter.

    1. Wash the strawberries and then cut each into half. Put them into a bowl (or any desired container). 
    2. Sprinkle sugar to bring out the fruity juices and well, I have found that there are always a few berries that are sour.......followed by a couple drops of vanilla essence. I usually do this a few hours before the party. That way the berries get all nice and sweet and juicy. 
    3. Meanwhile I roughly chop up some mint leaves and throw it into some butter. I then m-wave the butter. The result is this lovely minty butter spread. If you want, you can add some sugar to this too........
    4. I slice up some good old (or freshly bought- doesn't matter!) bread. Thickness depends on how you like it. I also like to quickly toast them in the broiler or just a regular toaster for some crunch. Again, not a must.
    1. I take each slice and spread some of that minty butter on top.
    2. I then place one beautiful red juicy strawberry atop that butter. 
    3. And then serve!
     Beautiful strawberries on toast

    Any fruit would probably work just as well. I just like the whole look of those gorgeous heart shaped red strawberries. You can't go wrong with this "dessert!" Wish I had a better name for it, though. Any suggestions?

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Devious Penne!

    In my family, I am the only one who can eat any kind of vegetable and I feel happy when I see different colors in my food. Vegetables are so colorful, right? You have the greens, the reds, the yellows, the oranges, the purples- the variety is just huge. In addition, I simply love to incorporate nice bite size chunks of veggies, not too overdone, nice and crunchy........yeah, you get the idea! The other three here, however, are not too crazy about all the variety out there--- they are fine with the basics- you know, the potatoes, tomatoes, onions, peas and carrots, perhaps cauliflower and maybe spinach.......but that's it. I mean, they don't even like red bell pepper!

    And so I came up with this devious trick in order to get them to eat red bell pepper. I made an excellent pesto using red bell pepper and other ingredients and poured it over some penne pasta mixed with some sauteed yellow squash. It turned out beautiful.

    The Ingredients:

    1 Red Bell Pepper (cleverly sneaked in by yours truly), a couple green onions, a little bit of fresh basil, a little bit of fresh cilantro, 1 jalapeno, 1 juicy tomato, a couple cloves of garlic, a small handful of almonds, lemon juice, salt to taste and some black pepper.

    Can you pick out the red bell pepper from the tomato? ;)

    The Pesto:

    OK, this is no rocket science at all. I put all those above mentioned ingredients into the food processor and converted them into one rocking pesto. I had to add a little extra water to get it into a pourable state, else it was too thick. I tasted it- it was perfect with all the right flavors, sans the unnecessary oil (pesto, as you know, typically contains a good amount of olive oil.........).

    My Rocking Pesto!


    I cooked the penne pasta and while that was going, I cut up one nice yellow squash into bite size cubes and quickly sauteed it with some italian seasoning. The squash cooked up in no time at all!


    I threw in the cooked penne onto the sauteed squash and then folded in that beautiful pesto. Drizzled a wee bit of olive oil* and it was ready to be eaten by the unsuspecting folk.

    The Devious Penne! 

    My devious trick actually worked! All three of them LOVED it. And I was once again, pleased with myself and my clever little trick.

    *I learned from this guy on TV that olive oil is supposed to be a cold oil if you want all its benefits. Heating it up destroys its good properties. Ever since I have stopped using olive oil to actually cook food (I remember using olive oil to fry stuff!)--- I just drizzle it right at the end if needed.