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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Russian Salad

January 6, 2011

If you have ever had Waldorf Salad it is similar to Russian Salad because it has a similar mayo based dressing and combination of different fruits and vegetables. I can’t tell you where Russian Salad originates or anything like that because it’s hard to find online.

But I can tell you that the first place I had Russian Salad was in India and that’s the only place I ever had it. Usually at potlucks and family dinners. So, my sister in law Hafsa and I decided to make it for everyone here and it turned out amazing! The combination of vegetables and fruits seems weird at first but they actually go really well together. And like Waldorf salad that has a mayo based dressing, this one includes sour cream which brings a really great creamy texture to the dressing.

Please use the following recipe as a guideline, as the measurements for the fruits and vegetables will be better to understand after the first time you make it. Plus you will get a better idea of what ingredients you like and what you don’t.

Russian Salad Recipe:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 16 oz can of pineapple tidbits
  • 2 cups of grapes
  • 1 green apple and 1 red apple
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few teaspoons of sugar

Cut the carrots and green beans into half inch strips and set aside. Peel and dice the potatoes into bite size pieces as well and set aside. Boil all three of these vegetables (separately since they have different cooking times) until they are cooked but still have a bite to them. You shouldn’t overcook them because they will become too mushy in the salad and that won’t be good!

Next cut the grapes in half, dice the apples into small pieces, and drain the pineapple tidbits and set aside.

Place all the vegetables and fruits into a large bowl. Whisk together the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar until smooth. Then pour over the salad mixture and combine. Refrigerate overnight, it tastes best when it’s very very cold.

[the picture above is garnished on the part of my sister in law :-) with a tomato peel rose and mint leaves]

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

September 8, 2010

Ohmygoodness it’s almost Fall

Has Summer really gone by that quickly? College starting back up and Labor Day are my annual reminders that fall is just around the corner. It must have reached about 5o degrees last week after being in the 90’s for nearly the whole Summer. And regardless of how cold it was I was more excited than anything because I realized I get to bust out all of my cold weather recipes… in other words: soup!

Me and my dad are particularly fond of soups in our family. For us, it’s the ultimate comfort food. He actually makes this amazing french onion soup that I will probably post up here one of these days. But anyway, when I found the recipe for this hungarian mushroom soup I remember thinking how much he’s going to like it, turns out he loves it.

I have so many soup recipes to try out but I had all the ingredients to make this one so I thought I would go for it. I made it last Sunday for dinner and my family absolutely loved it including me, it’s definitely something I am going to make again (and again and again.)

The unique ingredients are what make this soup so good: dill, paprika, soy sauce and lemon juice meld so well together creating an interesting twist on a familiar taste. If you are a fan of cream of mushroom soup then you will adore this recipe. If you are not too excited about fall coming then just remember we still have a little bit of summer left :)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup (From Allrecipes)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used olive oil)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used regular white ones )
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed (or fresh dill)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (key ingredient)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim milk)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • handful of chopped parsley (or cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (extra for garnish)

Heat the butter/oil in a large pot over medium heat. Throw the onions in and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with lid on.

In a separate bowl mix the milk and flour together. Pour this mixture into the soup and stir well. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.

Finally stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.

Cholay (Curried Chickpeas)

August 20, 2010

So, we are in the midst of Ramadan and I would just like to wish any Muslim readers a blessed Ramadan! All kinds of good eats are made during this month, makes me wonder why we don’t eat this food year-round but I guess that is what makes holidays so special: the atmosphere, the traditions, the food.

Yesterday I decided to make Cholay and it turned out especially good. I love making this dish because it is so easy.  The whole thing is just chicpeas cooked with all kinds of good spices and you make everything in one pot which is my kind of cooking. Everybody makes Cholay differently and has their own variation of spices but nobody makes cholay like my mom. And… nobody will take her recipes and jazz them up except for me :) So here is my adapted version of “mummi’s cholay.”

Cholay Recipe                                                                                                                             serves 8-10 (you can easily reduce the recipe in half)

  • 2 28oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped (half reserved for garnish)
  • 2 red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil to cook everything
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to your taste)
  • 1/2 a teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala (and extra for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • a handful of cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan or wok and fry half of the red onion until golden. Add tomatoes and cook until it becomes like a paste.

To the tomato and onions add ginger and garlic paste, chili powder, turmeric and salt…fry it well until you get a dark red color.

To the mixture, add diced potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. This will cook the potatoes about half way. Then add 2 cans of chic peas and stir until incorporated well with everything.

You will need to cook this for a while. Cover the pot with the lid and let everything cook, the potatoes are not fully cooked so this will take time; about 15 minutes. Give everything a big stir every now and then but keep the lid on.

Add the water,  tamarind paste, lemon juice, cumin, chaat masala and last the cilantro– mix well! Check to see if the potatoes are done, if not keep cooking, if they are then turn off the heat.

How I served it: Pour it into a big platter, garnish with the other half of the red onion, a dollop of plain yogurt, and lots of chaat masala.

Ratatouille

August 11, 2010

I never thought I could crave a dish that I have never eaten, nor did I think that I could crave a dish that I saw in an animated movie. But it happened… and I decided to make that dish as a tribute to Remy for being such an adorable little chef. The only thing was, I had to find a good recipe. After I did some hunting I landed on Julia Child’s Ratatouille recipe. And here is what I ended up with:

not too shabby…

Flavor- I like all the vegetables used in this but I honestly had never tried them all together in one dish. So I was a bit skeptical, but the combination of these vegetables blend so well together, it’s no wonder why this dish is so common.

Serving and Moderations– Even though there are several ways to serve Ratatouille… if you pour it on some nice bread with a drizzle of olive oil… it’s awesome. The only moderations I made to the recipe was adding a yellow squash with the zucchini just for the heck of it, but mostly for color. Also, I felt I needed to put some chili powder and cumin to spice it up a bit…and that worked out really well. I put about 1/2 a teaspoon of each.

Multi-Step Process- Julia Child’s version of Ratatouille involves a layering effect which calls for prior cooking of each vegetable before the final layering. This tends to be time consuming when you just want something quick. BUT after making it once, it won’t take as long since you won’t be going back and forth to the recipe making sure everything is correct (or is that just me?)

This “multi-step process” is not the only way to cook Ratatouille. To be honest, when I make this again I would take a shortcut and just combine all the ingredients together in one pot and let it slow cook for a while. That’s the kind of cooking I like. If you haven’t tried this “peasant dish” I think it’s worth it because not only is it healthy, it’s inexpensive and it tastes pretty darn good… comfort food French style perfect for Summer when all this produce is fresh and available.