My forays in to italian cooking are definitely inspired by Giada Laurentis of foodtv fame, but I have my own methods and madness of cooking up a storm here. I always like to start with a lot of veggies as I am always looking at ways to compensate the body`s requirement of fibre, iron etc, that might not form a part of our regular south indian cooking. I dont have a fixed recipe in the mind when I begin, but some how as I chop the vegetables, somewhere in the back of my mind, there are instructions and my hands fluidly follow them…
Today I knew that hubby dear would come home ravenous, and I need to give him a filling dinner with a lot of vegetables. I looked at the vegetables that I had to start my pasta…Yes I did have the Whole Wheat Penne, as I had already tried the angel hair pasta the last time and well, in my opinion penne is a lot more easier to pick wth a fork!!! I would have appreciated butternut squash or my all time favourite – zucchinni, but I had to make do with what I had…Onions, carrots, peppers and hey I had some fresh mushrooms. I still had some leftover Italian flat leaf parsley from two weeks back, which I had saved in a ziploc, rolled tightly in a soft fresh tissue towel. I also felt like using cilantro today, although I knew that was distinctly “Not Italian”!!!
The instructions would definitely “seem” a little winding and long, but its definitely a quick dish to make, once you get a hang of things.Don`t worry about the ingredients – You could make do, even if you have one or two of them missing.
1 pound of Whole Wheat Pasta. ( I used the one with the extra fibre
1 Onion sliced thin and long.
1 green pepper sliced.
1 carrot sliced thin and long.
12-13 Mushrooms sliced.
Small Bunch of Itlain Parsleychopped. (Optionally use dried parsley)
3 spoons of Part Skim Ricotta Cheese.
2 spoons of Part Skim Cream Cheese.
1 spoon of Light Sour Cream.
1 spoon of dried basil.
1 spoon of dried oregano.
A pinch of nutmeg.
Salt & Pepper.
1 spoon of butter.
Mozzarella Cheese to top.
- Saute the vegetables and mushroom very lightly for 2 mins in a spoon of butter. This enhances the flavour of the vegetables and the mushroom. This step is optional and can be omitted.
- Line a baking sheet with oil spray and add all the sliced veggies and mushrooms. Sprinkle salt and pepper sufficiently and some of the chopped parsley and dried basil.
- Preheat the oven to 375F and pop it in to the oven to roast for ten minutes or until the veggies are roasted and soft. Pull out and keep aside.
- In a wide mouthed container add enough water to allow the pasta to drown and cook for 12 mins or according to the instruction on the pasta container, along with 1 spoon of salt.
- When its cooked almost 70% drain out the pasta and save one cup of the pasta water.
- In a cup mix the ricotta cheese, cream cheese and sour cream and add some chopped cilantro and chopped parsley.
- Into the baking dish containing the roasted veggies, add the hot pasta, dried basil, dried oregano and a pinch of nutmeg and the cheese mixture.
- Mix well so the cheese will slowly melt in the heat of the pasta. If you find that its too dry, add 1/2 cup of pasta water and mix the vegetables, the pasta and the cheese sauce.
- Add more salt or pepper if you deem it necessary.
- Sprinkle part skim grated mozzarella cheese over the pasta and pop it again in the oven covered with a foil sheet for about 1o minutes at 350F.
- Bake for another 5 minutes with the foil removed.
- Serve simmering Hot pasta to your family and enjoy the fragrance of the cheese sauce, herbs and veggies.