Corn, Broccoli and Cauliflower Bake

 

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Looking for a perfect partner for this winter? We have an answer for you. Look forward! Winters makes me snuggle into cozy jackets and blankets. It makes me feel lazy and I wish if my personal robot could accomplish all my to do list. The struggle starts right from waking up early in the morning and continues till the end of the day where I have gorged on some extra comforting food that I can almost feel the needle of the weighing scale moving no longer by grams each day, but kgs.

Winter calls for some doozy meal makeover to the commonplace dishes. Freshest of produce available in the market, it gives everyone an option to paint their own canvas, create their own paintings. As I mentioned earlier my association with winter food is Soups, Casseroles, lots of dry fruits and lots of cheese! Mum often threw the veggies she loved (which obviously I loathed) into a glass baking container, garnished it with cheese and into the oven. This recipe draws inspiration from her famous Au-Gratin. The creaminess from the white bechamel sauce, the goodness from the winter produce and cheese crust – all ties together to bring a delicious family meal. Just about the easiest and the tastiest thing you can ever make when the weather makes you want to work less.

Chop chop, crank up your oven and enjoy this hearty bowl of awesomeness now!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

  • 1 cup corn kernels, blanched until tender (I used frozen corn, you can use fresh too)
  • 150 grams broccoli florets, blanched until tender
  • 200 grams cauliflower florets, blanched until tender
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 40 grams all purpose flour ( you can also use whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk, room temperature (you might slightly more based on your white sauce consistency)
  • 1 tsp of dried mixed hers (I used dried oregano and dried basil)
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup processed cheese, grated
  • 1/ 2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
  • few sprigs of micro greens, for garnish

METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 170 C for atleast 15 minutes.
  • Take a saucepan on low flame and put in 40 grams unsalted butter into it. Once the butter melts, add 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic and sauté.
  • Now add the flour and keep stirring and cooking the mixture to avoid the flour from burning. This would take about 1.5 – 2 minutes.
  • Now add milk slowly and keep stirring to avoid forming lumps. You can add a 4 – 5 tbsp of water if the consistency is becoming too thick.
  • Bring it to boil on medium flame. Add processed cheese, mixed herbs, chili flakes, sugar, salt and freshly grounded black pepper. Mix well and keep aside.
  • Meanwhile take the remaining butter in a saucepan. Saute garlic cloves, pinch of chili flakes and dried oregano. Now add the bread crumbs and sauté for 30 – 40 seconds and keep aside.
  • Take a baking container. I used a borosil baking tray dish. Put 2 – 3 tbsp of white sauce. Then layer it with the blanched veggies (corn, cauliflower and broccoli) and then pour the remaining white sauce mixture.
  • Garnish with cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese evenly (leaving one table spoon of each aside).
  • Now layer with the panko bread crumb mixture evenly and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
  • Put this to bake for atleast 20 – 22 minutes or until the crust starts to bubble and turns golden brown.
  • Take it out of the oven, garnish with micro greens and dive in!

Laksa – from the scratch!

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Monsoons for me means sitting by the window and enjoying the crisp cool air, the fragrance of “gilli mitti”, reading a book and relishing a bowl of piping hot and comfort food! I am already hoping that it rains again today and I can relive these moments again. And when you get a bowl full of goodness – piping hot curry noodle soup, your day can’t get any better! Laksa is a Malaysian curry noodle soup which is hearty and perfect for monsoon lunches and dinner.

This recipe here might not be the most authentic Laksa recipe, but it’s modified to what my family enjoys and the flavors we can relate too. Spicy, sweet, zing and lots of goodness. I must admit that cooking Asian food is not my forte, but I wanted to try my hands on this dish particularly. I tried, retried and re-retried and almost perfected myself in making Laksa. While the coconut milk lends the creaminess and sweetness to the dish, the “made from scratch” Laksa paste adds the much needed fieriness to the whole dish. The colorful medley of veggies provide the necessary nutrients. All this with a dash of lemon is sublime!

This soup reminded me of my mum’s tomato soup which she would load with noodles and veggies to make our meals more exciting. So just when you were pondering about what to cook next, my version of Laksa is here to spark up your weeknight dinners and a comfort laden weekend meal!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 people)

For Laksa Paste:

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 dried red chili, soaked in hot water for atleast 30 minutes (you can add more if you like the paste to be spicier)
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh turmeric root, roughly chopped (you can use ground turmeric instead)
  • 1 medium red onion, roughly diced
  • thumb of ginger or galangal, roughly chopped
  • salt, to taste

For Soup:

  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 150 – 200 ml water
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, par boiled
  • 1 medium sized red bell pepper, julinned
  • 1 cup carrot, peeled and cut into circles and par boiled
  • 6 – 7 pak choy leaves, cut into threads.
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 200 grams tofu, cut into cubes
  • 100 grams button mushroom, cut into thick slices
  • 1.5 cup cooked rice vermicelli, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts (optional)
  • 1/3 cup french beans, cut into long pieces and slightly boiled (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh thai basil leaves (optional)

METHOD:

  • In a mixer grinder take all the ingredients for the Laksa paste along with 2 tbsp of water and make a smooth puree out of it. Do not use the water in which the dried red chilis were soaked.
  • Once the paste is made, keep it aside.
  • Take a saucepan and put 1 tbsp of oil in it and put it on medium heat. Add the entire Laksa paste and let the paste cook completely. You will know the paste is properly cooked once it starts to leave slight oil. This would take 8 – 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile take another pan on medium heat. Put the remaining oil. Add chili flakes and the white part of green onion and saute for a few seconds. Now add broccoli, carrots, french beans, bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until it starts to get slightly charred. Add salt and give it a good stir. Once cooked keep aside.
  • Once the Laksa paste is cooked, add coconut milk and water and let the gravy simmer for 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Add the diced tofu so that it soaks up some flavor of the curry. Let the curry simmer for atleast 5 minutes.
  • To serve, first take a bowl and add some cooked rice vermicelli. Add some veggies and then pour the tofu and the coconut curry. Add some more veggies on the top.
  • Garnish with lemon wedge, roasted peanuts, coriander leaves, spring onions and thai basil.

Enjoy!

Summer Pasta Salad

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Lets talk salad! A summer pasta salad is indeed a bowl of comforting stuff to beat the heat wave. The fresh and flavorful kick of the salad makes it a quintessential summer dream meal! Beautifully cooked pasta, some fresh summer veggies and a bold dressing and you are good to go!

As soon as I enter the grocery store next to my house, I am awe struck with the freshness of the produce and ideas keep striking at lightening speed. This summer salad is a celebration of the clean and simple ingredients. The cherry tomatoes provides burst of freshness to the salad, the roasted peppers adds the extra oomph to it. The creamy dressing is jam packed with flavor and brings together the entire dish.

Yes, the salad is yummy and you can get on your own adventure ride by tossing in different veggies because its all abut what delights you!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 1 – 2 people)

For the salad:

  • 160 grams boiled pasta ( I used Farfelle)
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper
  • 12 pieces cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds, for garnishing

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise ( I used store bought mayonnaise)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp white vingear
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • crushed black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

For the salad:

  • Brush the yellow pepper with vegetable oil generously. Place it on a gas stove on medium flame.
  • Keep rotating the sides every 30 – 40 seconds so that it chars evenly.
  • Once charred, place the pepper in cold water, remove the skin, de-seed it and cut it lengthwise into strips.
  • Meanwhile place the broccoli florets in a pot of boiling water with salt for 2 minutes.
  • Once done run it under ice cold water and keep aside.

For the dressing:

  • Take mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, honey and vinegar in a bowl and combine it using a wire whisk.
  • Transfer it into an air tight container. Add extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic in the container. Close the lid and shake it hard until all the ingredients are well combined.

To assemble:

  • Take all the veggies and herbs in a bowl. Drizzle it with the salad dressing.
  • Toss the entire salad using the salad spoon so that each pasta is well coated.
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve.

Enjoy!

Pesto Vegetable Curry

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With the onset of summer, everyone needs an express meal which is healthy, fresh and delicious. This recipe was pure serendipity! The love of home made pesto and fresh veggies led to creation of this wonderful dish and now it’s my family’s favorite! So just when deciding on each day’s menu for dinner was becoming difficult, Pesto Vegetable Curry on a bed of brown/red rice has become a regular stress free weeknight meal.

The sweet scent of fresh basil simply exudes summer. The vibrant and mildy spiced green curry with a medley of colorful veggies screams of summer. So just when you are thinking of cooking something different, something appetizing, we’ve got this recipe up for you!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 – 4 people)

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp for curry
  • 6 garlic cloves + 4 garlic cloves for curry
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, blanched in salt water and strained
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell peppers, julienne
  • 1/2 cup red bell peppers, julienne
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels, boiled
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of milk (You can use 1/4 cu of fresh cream instead)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
  • few fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)
  • cooked rice, to serve with

METHOD:

  • Combine garlic, basil leaves, walnuts and pine nuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  • Now add parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil and blend until a smooth paste is formed and all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Take a saucepan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Take 4 cloves of garlic and smash it with a pestle and put it in the saucepan. Take half of the chili flakes in the saucepan and saute it.
  • Now add the bell peppers and a bit of salt and saute it for a couple of minutes until slightly cooked.
  • Put in the broccoli florets and allow it to cook for 4 – 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms, corn and remaining chili flakes and saute all the veggies until cooked by 70%
  • Now add the homemade pesto sauce prepared earlier. Add salt, oregano and let the veggies cook in the pesto paste for a couple of minutes.
  • Add milk and let the curry simmer on low flame for 3 – 4 minutes, until the curry comes to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat, add lemon juice and lemon zest, mix it with a spatula so that its well incorporated.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve it hot with rice.

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Mango Black Rice Salad with Lemon – Ginger Vinaigrette

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Summer + funky salad + mangoes = PERFECT MEAL!

This power salad is a best way to eat healthy and enjoy the gorgeousness of the fruit of the season – Mango. Packed with black rice, fresh fruits, vibrant vegetables, herbs and nuts, this is pure happiness in a bowl. While I enjoy eating healthy food, flavor fatigue strikes in soon. It is important to keep experimenting with flavors, different ingredients and to appreciate the produce of that season. Black rice salad have now become a regular weeknight dinner for me where I can throw in different veggies and fruits in a bowl, drizzle a different dressing and your meal is sorted almost instantaneously. Among the different salads that I have been eating lately, this is my favourite.

Bursting with different flavors and textures, the plethora of color is this dish makes you want to dive into it right there. The earthy rice combined with the lush green broccoli, the sweet mangoes and mild flavor of the shallots compliments each other beautifully well. All this when combined with a ginger scented vinaigrette makes you fall head over heal in love with this dish. Easy to make, easy to assemble and a complete meal to beat this heat!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 1- 2 people)

For the salad:

  • 120 grams uncooked rice, soaked in water for atleast 8 hours
  • 1 cup diced mangoes (I used alphanso mangoes)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, blanched in salt water until slightly soft
  • 1/4 cup shallots, julienne
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 tbsp almond slivers, lightly toasted

For the dressing:

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tbsp agave nectar (you can use honey)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

  • Take a saucepan with water and bring it to boil. Now add the soaked black rice with a bit of salt and let the rice cook on medium flame until all the water has bbeen absorbed.
  • Meanwhile using a wire whisk combine extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and agave nectar until well incorporated.
  • Add the freshly grated ginger, dried mint, garlic, salt and pepper and stir it. Transfer this dressing to a jar and put it in the fridge until you serve the salad.
  • Once the rice has been cooked, take a salad bowl and toss in the cooked rice, diced mangoes, blacked broccoli, shallots, torn basil leaves and half of the slivered toasted almonds.
  • Drizzle with a generous amount of the salad dressing (right before serving). Combine well and serve the salad topped with the remaining toasted almonds.

Enjoy and stay healthy!