My little one, S, was watching me empty the clothes out from the washer to the dryer – a mundane scene from everyday at home…and she suddenly wanted to know “Where is the gift that Shruti didi gifted you, on your b`day?
I, for one, had no clue what Shruti had gifted to me on my bday that had happened in April..she was desperately trying to remind me some thing that was easily on top of her head …
“It was a glass tumbler with chop-sticks” , she said…Now she really had be flummoxed…I could`nt for the life of me imagine why Shruti would give me a glass tumbler that too filled with chopsticks…She was really at a loss for words now…She desperately wanted me to remember..”It makes the room smell nice”, she twitted in…Then it struck me in a flash!!! Shruti had gifted me a lovely Lavender flavoured reed diffuser!!!!!
My forays in to italian cooking were actually inspired by Giada Di Laurentis of food tv fame. I love the way she presents her dishes, simple, striaght and very delectable. Of course my various visits to Olive Garden also were an additional motivation to venture in to this style of cooking. I always loved the calm fresh beauty of the tuscan countryside from what little I had seen on travel blogs and glossy travel magazines.
Baked Spaghetti with roasted summer vegetables, is an italian dish that could easily be refixed a hundred different ways, all of them leading to decadent different end results, all of them being extremely tastly and satisfying. I think of it more as a comfort food during the cold winter months. Its easily a favourite among my friends and I am sure my sisters S, and D would love to have tasted it.
Spagetti Pasta – 1/2 a Box (Barilla/Great Value/Trader Joe`s or whatever)(You could also substitute any pasta like penne, rigatoni,bowtie)
Yellow Squash – 2 (Cut in to 1 inch long strips)
Onions – 1 (Cut in to 1 inch long strips)
Zuchinni – 2 ( Cut in to 1 inch cubes)
Peppers – 2 (Cored and cut in to 1 inch wide strips)
Dried Basil – 1/2 Tsp
Dried oregano – 1/2 Tsp
Dried Thyme – 1/2 Tsp (Optional)
Dried Parsley – 1/2 Tsp
Black Pepper – Crushed off a grinder – 1 Tsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/3 cup
Garlic – 5-6 pods
Marinana Sauce – 2-3 cups or 1 Bottle of Store Bought sauce.
Mozarella Cheese – Grated 1/2 cup – (Store bought park skim mozarella can be used a low cal option).
Parmesan Cheese – 1/3 cup.
Lemon Zest – 1 tsp
All the dried herbs could be got at any store like Trader Joe`s or Walmart at the Spices section.
Fresh herbs are always a pleasure to cook with, so plan cooking italian,If you get fresh herbs , as they have a very short shelf life.
All the measurements of cheese and herbs and salt and pepper are completely indicative. If you want to go easy on the cheese, or increase the pepper for a kick, or reduce the oregano, feel free to do so.
Start by boiling the pasta in a big container filled with water and salt. Allow the pasta to cook for 8 mins or as per the directions provided on the cover.
Boil the pasta till its done “Al Dente”. This is a point when the pasta is about 60% cooked and is firm and has a bite to it. The pasta will finish cooking with the vegetables and the sauce in the oven. Drain in a colander.
In the meantime, take a cup and pour the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in to it. Add finely chopped garlic pieces to the oil, so the garlic can sort of marinate in the oil and and flavour it.
Add crushed pepper, freshly chopped parsley ( or dried) and lemon zest and allow to sit for ten mins.
Preheat the oven to 400 F
Grease a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, and onions, and drizzle the dried herbs like basil, oregano and parsley and then pour the olive oil garlic herb mix on the veggies. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 12-13 mins till they are tender.
In a large baking dish. grease the bottom and the sides and pour the semi cooked pasta, roasted veggies, marinara sauce, half of the mozarella cheese, salt and then top it with the remaining grated mozarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
Bake for 25 mins till the cheese gts golden on top.