Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pesto Cavatappi

It has been a very hectic couple of months, with work, technical difficulties with the camera and million other issues. So here is one of my favorite comfort pasta recipes. Pesto Cavatappi is my standard order when I go to Noodles and Co. I believe it is also one of the easiest of the Italian recipes too ...

Cavatappi Pasta - 1/2 pack
Roma Tomato - 1
Heavy whipping Cream - 1 1/2 tbsp
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
Parmesan Cheese - 1 tbsp Shredded

Basil Leaves - 1 cup
Garlic - 3 to 4
Whole Pepper - 5 to 6
Pine nuts - 1 tbsp toasted
Salt - to taste
Parmesan cheese - 1 tbsp grated
Olive oil - 4 tbsp

I make the pesto at home following Micheal Chiarello's Spring Garlic Pesto and Blanched Basil Pesto recipes modifying the quantities and texture to my liking. Make a coarse paste of all the ingredients listed under pesto in a blender. You can also increase the quantity for later use. I normally make extra and freeze the pesto and use it when I am in a hurry. While you are making the pesto cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack. When the pasta is almost done, heat a separate deep saute pan and pour 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the tomatoes and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the pesto (at least 2 tbsp - you can add more if you like) and slowly stir in the the drained pasta . After 1 minute add in the heavy whipping cream. Let the liquid reduce in the pan for about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve immediately. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

The original recipe also calls for sliced sauteed mushrooms and white wine. Add sauteed mushrooms along with the tomato and then add 1-2 tbsp of any good Italian white wine after you have added the pasta.

Cavatappi is a ridged pasta like penne. You can find it in the pasta aisle of any grocery store like Safeway/ Wholefoods/Jewel etc.

For this recipe to top off I have used Parmigiano Reggiano, as I ran short of the american Parmesan cheese after making the pesto. Parmigiano Reggiano has a fruity/nutty taste and a slightly gritty texture. This cheese is also way suprerior (in gourmet points) in flavor and taste to the regular American parmesan cheese available in most stores available grated/ shredded.

I like to have this pasta with the Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thakkali Kuzhambu

This is very simple everyday kuzhambu is my contribution to Jihva For Ingredients: Tomato


Tomato - 1 large
Pearl onion - 4-5 Sliced
Garlic cloves - 6 Sliced
Puli /Tamarind - lemon size

Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 1/2 tsp

Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Dried red Chili - 1 to 2
Kadala Parippu / Bengal gram - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - a few

Nallenna / gingelly Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Coriander / cilantro Leaves - few chopped

Chop the tomato and crush is between you fingers. In another bowl soak the puli in water to extract 2 1/2 tbsp of thick juice. In a saute pan heat the oil. You can also use regular oil but it won't have the same taste or smell. Splutter the mustard seeds then the fenugreek seeds, urad dal, kadala parippu, red chili and curry leaves. Add the onions and garlic fry till the onions are golden brown , make sure not to burn it. Add the crushed tomato and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the oil starts to float to the top and leaves tomato leaves the sides. by this time the tomatoes will be fully mashed. Put the Chili powder and Coriander powder and fry for another minute. I have put a pinch of turmeric too, you can do away with it if you want that lovely brown color kuzhambu. Pour the puli vellam / extract, salt, 1 1/2 cup of water and let kuzhambu simmer for another 10 minutes until it is thickened. Garnish with the chopped cilantro. Kuzhambu is ready to be served with piping hot rice.

You can also use 2 tsp of Sambhar powder instead of the chili powder, coriander powder and turmeric.