Roasted Pepper and Tomato Pasta Soup

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The soup season is officially here and I am completely smitten by it. Warm jackets, hoodies, cozy blankets and everything to keep me warm is finally out and shining bright in my wardrobe. All I need is delicious comforting food to kick start my winter in the best way possible. And what better than this Roasted Pepper and Tomato Pasta Soup. Snuggled up in my blanket, this soul warming delicious soup is the perfect way to spend my winter evenings.

I remember as a child that right from the onset of winters, mum made tomato – carrot soup to lush green spinach soup or probably lemon coriander soup. This was followed by a creamy and cheesy casserole and then the usual Indian dinner. I admit I am lazy and can’t cook a myraid of things at once. Not a superwoman like my mum however hard I try. This soup is an inspiration from what she makes during winters – Soup + Pasta = Deliciousness!

The reddish hue comes from the beautifully roasted plump tomatoes, red peppers and fresh red chilis. The Indian and Italian herbs lends bags of flavor to this dish. Fresh herbs to finish it off and everything comes together beautifully with pasta. So grab your pots and pans now because this recipe is a must try.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 -4  people)

  • 10 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into big cubes
  • 1 red chilis (they look like jalepenos, optional)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece clove
  • 2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (you can made more for spice)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
  • fresh basil leaves, to garnish

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METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 200 C for atleast 15 minutes and slightly grease your baking tray with melted butter or oil and keep aside.
  • Meanwhile take a big bowl with the mentioned quantity of olive oil, dried oregano, dried parsley, salt and black pepper and mix it using a spoon.
  • Now add quartered tomatoes, 4 pieces of garlic cloves, bell pepper chunks and red chili to the olive oil mix and massage the veggies generously until coated with oil.
  • Transfer it to the baking tray and bake it for 30 minutes at 200 C.
  • Once done remove it from the oven and let it cool down.
  • Meanwhile take a pot of water, add salt and bring it to boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions given in the packet.
  • Once pasta is cooked, wash it under cold water and keep it aside.
  • Now take a saucepan and add butter. Once hot add bay leaf, chili flakes and clove and saute for 30 – 40 seconds. Now remove the clove and add chopped garlic and cook it for 30 – 40 seconds on medium heat.
  • Add onion and cook it until is translucent. Add the fresh basil leaves and cook it for 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Now add the pan of roasted veggies and herbs to the saucepan and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Add vegetable stock and let the mixture come to a boil.
  • Take it off the heat, remove bay leaf and using a stick blender, blend it to a fine pureé.
  • Add it back to the saucepan on medium flame and adjust for seasoning and let it be hot.
  • To serve, divide the pasta equally into serving bowls, put the soup on top of it, garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve hot!

 

Baby Spinach and Burst Cherry Pasta

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Pasta – Weeknights – Are you serious!? Welcome to the weeknight meal extravaganza. After a hectic day at work, enjoying a rustic bowl of pasta is pure bliss. For me pasta is my comfort food at any hour of the day. I must confess that I am not an everday roti-sabzi kind of girl. Perhaps that my go – to food when I am ill or have been eating out a lot. I must also confess that I get bored very easily eating the same food. The whole experience of enjoying my meal fades away.

Weekdays being hectic, dinner is always a challenge. I often resort to cooking a quick simple pasta loaded with goodness of herbs and veggies. There is something about pastas that makes you fall in love with it every single time. Rustic or fancy – you just fall in love with it. Cooking it (and then eating it, of course) is therapeutic! This Burst Cherry Pasta has become my recent favourite. It is simple with no frills and fancies. It delivers on deliciousness, simplicity and a beautiful play of colors. Garlicky, subtly spiced and loaded with freshess – weeknight meals sorted!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2  – 3 people)

  • 250 grams of uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 6 – 7 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 150 grams baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grounded black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • salt, to taste

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METHOD:

  • Put a pot of water on high heat. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, put the spaghetti in it with salt and let it cook on medium het until al dente.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 C. In a bowl take the cherry tomatoes, 1.5 tbsp olive oil, salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper. Coat the cherry tomatoes generously and transfer it to the baking sheet.
  • Allow the cherry tomatoes to roast in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes until it starts to burst open.
  • Meanwhile if the pasta is cooked, drain the water and run it under cold water and keep aside.
  • Take a saucepan and put it on low heat. Take the remaining olive oil. Once its heated add the garlic and let it cook on low flame for a minute ot two. Now add the chilli flakes and saute for 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Once the cherry tomatoes are out of the oven, transfer it to the saucepan and saute for 40 seconds to a minute.
  • Now add the baby spinach and let it cook for a minute or 2 until its soft on medium flame.
  • Add the chopped basil leaves and stir in the mixture. Add the boiled pasta and saucte it for minute or 2.
  • Now add the salt, cream cheese and give the pasta a quick mix.
  • Add in lemon zest, toss it , garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Enjoy!

 

 

Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas

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Monsoon therapy with rustic Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas – pure joy! The rains lashing against the window panes, steaming cup of coffee and empanadas – perfect rainy afternoon. Dreamy yummy creations which is bursting with flavors. You have to be crazy to not enjoy these savory pockets!

If that wasn’t enough to lure you to try these out, probably your childhood memories surely will. Remember those vegetable patties and pies you enjoyed at the neighborhood bakery store… oh so delicious! The crisp and flaky pastry and the absolutely gorgeous stuffing…I am already dreaming about it while writing this post. While I was in the US, I often missed those patties until I stumbled upon these hot pockets filled with sumptuous stuffing called empanadas from a famous food truck in San Francisco. It ticked all the boxes for the things I was missing. Homely and satisfying.

I was trying my hands to make empanadas at home and guess what, I  was bursting with ideas. It almost took 1 week for me to calm down and decide about the filling. You can fill the dough with all your favorite things and enjoy these wonders.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes around 14 – 15 pieces)

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour + extra for dusting and rolling out the dough
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 grams butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 120 ml ice water
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 200 grams button mushrooms, chopped
  • 200 grams cottage cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup spinach, blanched and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp chili flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

For the dough:

  • Take all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt in a bowl and whisk it.
  • Using a pastry blender/ 2 forks or using the tips of your fingers, blend the cold butter into the flour mixture until it forms a coarse crumb like mixture.
  • Beat 1 egg, ice cold water and white vinegar in a bowl and keep aside.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour-butter mixture and using a fork combine the entire mixture. Do not over knead it.
  • Generously dust the kitchen top with flour and transfer the dough on to it.
  • Bring together the entire dough together by gently kneading it.
  • Divide the dough into 2 halves, cling wrap it tightly and refrigerate it for atleast 1.5 hours.

For the mixture:

  • While the dough is resting, take a saucepan on medium heat. Put oil in it.
  • Once its hot add 1 tsp chili flakes and saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add chopped onions and saute it for a minute until it turns translucent.
  • Add mushrooms to the mixture and let it cook for a minute.
  • Now add the remaining chili flakes, salt, black pepper and basil leaves and saute the mixture for couple of minutes,
  • Once done take it from the stove and allow it to cool completely.
  • Once cooled add grated cottage, spinach and mozzarella cheese and form a mixture using a spoon.

To Assemble:

  • Preheat your oven to 230 C for atleast 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep aside.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge. Take some dough and roll it out on a flat surface into round discs of similar sizes ( approximately 6 inch diameter)
  • Take the stuffing and place it on one side of the circle.
  • Take the other end of the dough and form a semi circle. Seal the edges as shown in the picture or by making knife impressions.
  • Once all the pies are formed, beat one egg and using a pastry brush, egg wash the top of the empanadas before they go into the oven to bake.
  • Place the pies atleast 1 inch apart and put it into the oven to bake at 200 C for 18 – 20 minutes, until the empanadas a golden brown and crisp.
  • Serve it hot with a yogurt dip and enjoy!

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!

One Bowl Fresh Mango Salsa

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Mangoes and Mexican flavors – sounds lovely and oh so yum! Sometimes all you need is a wonderful assortment of fresh and seasonal produce to make something utterly delicious! Mango salsa has been our family’s summer fare when the market is full of ripe and raw mangoes. Whether it is weekend brunches or something fresh and simple for weeknights, this bowl of confetti like colors is a hit!

Yes, my entire family loves Mexican food especially salsa. Sometimes the usual salsa becomes commonplace and this is when fruit salsas come handy. Tangy, sweet and spicy, all loaded in a single bowl pairs well with nachos, tacos or as a relish! So before the mangoes are out of this season, make this amazing salsa for friends and family in just no time!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

  • 1/2 cup raw mangoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup ripe mangoes, diced (I used Alphonso mangoes)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced
  • 2 green chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • In a bowl add ripe mangoes, raw mangoes , red bell peppers, onion, cilantro and green chillis and mix it well.
  • Now add lemon juice, salt and black pepper (and honey if the mangoes are too sour for your palate) and mix it well.
  • Keep it in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.
  • Take it out and serve immediately and enjoy!

 

Quick Powerhouse Patty with Yogurt Dip

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It’s #foodcoma time! These powerhouse patties are an explosion bomb, packed with fresh flavor and great nutrients. I always loved patties since childhood. My mum used to revamp it every single time with different veggies and different herbs to make our meals more exciting! Yes, I get these genes from her. A lot has changed  in my life since I have attained motherhood. When it comes to food, I try to eat healthier stuff, more superfood and introduce the same to my child by alternating the favors. To my surprise my 2 year old mini bomb loves it too!

These patty is quite literally everything. The delicious concoction of nutritious veggies, the lushness from the fresh herbs and the abundance of super-food all comes together to create a firework of amazing flavors. All this complemented with a zippy yogurt sauce, it is phenomenal.

So just when you were pondering what to eat with your cup of tea during monsoons, we’ve got a quick and easy solution for you!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (makes 8 – 10 pieces)

For the patty:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, for cooking the patty
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly crushed black pepper, to taste

For the dip:

  • 120 grams plain Greek Yoghurt (I used Epigamia Yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt, to taste

METHOD:

For the patty:

  • Cook the quinoa as instructed in the package. Once cooked, fluff it with a fork and keep it aside.
  • Meanwhile, blanch the spinach leaves and once blanched, run it under cold water. Roughly chop it and keep it aside.
  • In a bowl, mix chopped onion, grated carrot, chopped spinach leaves, chopped basil leaves, parsley, chili flakes, garlic and lemon zest and mix it with a spoon.
  • Add cooked quinoa, lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper and mix the mixture using your hand.
  • Lastly add the Panko bread crumbs and completely mix the patty mixture. Keep it in the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Take out the patty mixture from the fridge and using an ice-cream scoop, take a scoop of the mixture, roll it and slightly flatten it.
  • Repeat the process for the remaining mixture.  Keep the balls in the fridge for another 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile take a flat pan and put it on medium heat. Spray 1/2 tbsp of oil.
  • Now put the patty on the pan, drizzle some oil on the patty and allow it to cook until its crisp and golden brown on each side.
  • Repeat the process for all the patty and keep it aside.

For the dip:

  • Take Greek yogurt in a bowl. Whisk it slightly using a wire whisk.
  • Add lemon and salt and mix it with a spoon.
  • Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Now place the patty in a platter along with the dip and serve immediately!

 

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!