Baked Vegetable Pasta

October 15, 2011

Okay.

So after seven months of being MIA from my blog I thought it was about time I brought it back to life! I will spare everyone from a variety of excuses for why I was essentially just too lazy to update my blog. Mind you I didn’t ever stop cooking in that time so luckily I have some great photographs and recipes to share with you all :-)

This Baked Vegetable Pasta recipe is one that I’m excited to share because it was inspired by a previous dish I have made on this blog. The Ratatouille I shared back in 2010 was a recipe that utilized simple vegetables. So likewise, in this pasta dish I used similar vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper to make a delicious yet simple dish.

Baked Vegetable Pasta Recipe:

For the sauce:

  • 10 ripe tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic-ginger paste
  • a cup of water
For the vegetables
  • 2 medium sized zucchini (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 2 medium sized eggplant (peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 lb. sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • handful of fresh shredded parmesan cheese for crust
  • few tablespoons of butter for crust
  1. Either use store bought pasta sauce or make the sauce by sautéing the onions in a few tablespoons of oil for a few minutes. Then add the garlic ginger paste and cook for a minute. Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin powder. Add water to thin out the sauce and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  2. Boil the pasta until al dente (tender in the middle) and set aside.
  3. Next, you will need to saute each vegetable in a few tablespoons of oil until tender. This will be about 3-5 minutes depending on the vegetable (for example the eggplant will take less time than the bell pepper). Make sure to season each vegetable well with salt and pepper. As you finish sauteing each batch of vegetables, remove them into a large bowl.
  4. In the same large bowl mix in the sauce, pasta, and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Mix everything well!
  5. In a greased baking dish pour in the pasta mixture. Top with shredded parmesan cheese and dabs of butter to make a crust. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the pasta has become golden brown.
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Martha’s Mac-n-Cheese!

October 18, 2010

It has been insane these past few weeks. Between school, work, home (and the million things in between) it’s been difficult to find time to gather any thoughts to write about. Luckily I’m getting better at managing my time and sorting out my thoughts. This saves you from reading about financial markets and saves me from writing a report for my economics class about a lasagna recipe :-)

Today I would like to share a recipe I tried a while back… some good ol’ macaroni and cheese! I’m not going to tell you that this is the best macaroni and cheese you will ever eat, but I will tell you that it’s pretty darn good. In fact this recipe is probably one of the most popular in the blogging world. If you search for the best mac-and-cheese recipe this one by Martha Stewart is bound to pop up. I had to find out what the hype was all about so I decided to make it and see.

I realized why this recipe is so popular: the sauce. The béchamel sauce of this recipe is what makes this dish “re-heatable”. In other words, you can re-heat this tomorrow and it will still be rich and creamy as when you first ate it. This is very uncommon for typical mac-and-cheese.

Also unlike other mac-and-cheese recipes, this one is not gritty and that is where the cheese plays its role. I never knew this until now but if you use regular cheddar it will cause your mac-and-cheese to be gritty but if you use white cheddar and white cheeses it will have a smoother texture.

However, this recipe is a bit time consuming. You have to make that béchamel sauce (which is basically a flour and milk white sauce) which requires a bit of labor but hey…haven’t you been wanting to make a “béchamel sauce” and be able to impress people with that fancy word?

The recipe itself makes enough for about 12 people so you might want to halve the recipe if you’re not feeding an army.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 6 slices white bread, cut into mini squares
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups grated gruyere
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 3 quart baking dish.

Boil macaroni following the package directions.

Toss the bread pieces with 2 tablespoons of butter and keep aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk.

Melt the other 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan then add flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring.

Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture and cook until it becomes thick, while whisking.

Take the pan off the heat. Mix in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere

Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Spread out the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere, also spread out the breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake until golden brown– about 30 minutes. Be sure to cool it before you serve to allow everything to set. Enjoy!

Goat Cheese Lasagna

September 18, 2010

My mouth is watering just thinking about this. Growing up my parents would make lasagna for dinner every now and then and for me and my brothers it was the best thing in the world. It was exciting for us because we were so used to eating Indian food every day. Don’t get me wrong we love Indian food but as a kid sometimes you want to just fit in and have something for dinner that your friends would have. So lasagna was one of the first “American” dinners that we had and I still love it. Its so cheesy and fattening rich and creamy you can’t help but love it. My dad would make his lasagna with basic ingredients: tomato sauce, ground beef, cottage cheese (instead of ricotta), and mozzarella cheese. For me, this is just fine, I love it the way it is but I wanted to jazz up the recipe a bit and invite new flavors to a classic.

Indian food is about bold flavors, either using a lot of different mild ingredients in a dish to make it more flavorful or one or two strong ingredients. So this is the concept I was going for. Although lasagna is pretty flavorful it doesn’t always stick out. This goat cheese idea came from an Ina Garten recipe. I saw that she had used goat cheese in one of her lasagnas so I adapted that into this recipe.

Goat cheese is tart and creamy and so good if used with the right ingredients. Instead of using too much of a good thing I decided to infuse some ricotta cheese with the goat cheese just so that you could know that the goat cheese was there without it overpowering the whole dish. To that, I added chopped green onions, some salt and pepper, and an egg to bind it all–and there is your magic mixture that makes this dish incredibley delicious.

Lasagna Recipe

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken any way you prefer
  • 280z can of stewed tomatoes
  • 8oz can of tomato paste
  • 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 8oz of goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of green onion (with whites), chopped
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese

1. Cook the ground chicken any way that you prefer, I cooked it with onions, garlic, salt, chili pepper, cumin and cilantro but use any spices that you like–once the meat is cooked add the stewed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Mix well and season to taste.

2. Boil the lasagna noodles half way. Drain, and place in a bowl of water to keep them from sticking.

3. In a medium sized bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, goat cheese, egg, green onions and season with salt and pepper–divide in half (for two layers in the lasagna)

3. Preheat your oven to 375°

4. Take out a lasagna baking dish, I used a 3qt casserole. Begin layering your lasagna: meat sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozarella cheese, ricotta cheese mixture, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozarella cheese, ricotta cheese mixture, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese.

5. Cover with an aluminum foil tent and bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool for about an hour or so before serving so that the lasagna sets.

Enjoy :-)