A Tale Of Two Pastas

With two kids constantly demanding your attention, it gets increasingly difficult to get into the kitchen to create something new. Yesterday was a rare occurrence and as soon as the opportunity presented itself (my one-month old son sleeping blissfully while my naughty 20-month old daughter busy playing with her grandmother), my wife and I ran straight to the kitchen. After a brief discussion, we decided to do something that would require very little time and effort, something like a simple Penne pasta, which we had NEVER attempted before. Since we had no recipe, we just wanted to go with our flavor profiles, i,e, our guts.

As with all couples, we had two different ideas; my wife wanted a red pasta with a basic tomato-oregano sauce while I craved for something (richer, creamier, cheesier) Fettuccine-Alfredo-esque. It all came down to the colors; white v/s red. I won her over by promising to increase the cheese content in the pasta so we started off with something that would, hopefully, taste like fettuccine. Half way through, my wife suggested we add the ingredients for the tomato-oregano sauce to the mix (win-win). What came out was surprisingly delicious, and mixing in some mushrooms and black olives just took the entire dish to a whole new level; to put it plainly, it was something worth sharing with the world. So without further ado, here’s a Penne for your thoughts:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup mushrooms (sliced)
  • ¼ cup black olives
  • 2 to 3 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 to 3 tbsp grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp pizza sauce [great substitute for ready-made tomato sauce]
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt to taste [be careful as it is already a bit on the salty side]

Method

  1. Boil pasta and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Put a saucepan on medium heat and add the olive oil to it.
  3. Once hot, add the flour to the saucepan and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. Add 1 cup milk to the pan and keep stirring till there are no lumps and the sauce starts to thicken.
  5. Add the mushrooms, the cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, cream), the olives, garlic powder, oregano, pizza sauce and salt to the pan and cook for two minutes.
  6. If the sauce feels too thick (thicker than condensed milk), add up to ½ cup milk and mix well.
  7. Once the sauce is ready, add the boiled Penne pasta to the pan and fold it in carefully, so as not to break the pasta (something I forgot to take care of).
  8. Cook for a couple of minutes, making sure that all the pasta is completely coated with the sauce.
  9. Garnish with a pinch of oregano and some olives.

This unconventional pasta recipe serves THREE people, is ready in less than TEN minutes and needs to be served immediately as the sauce starts to coagulate due to the high cheese content. Try it out and do let me know how you liked it; tweaks and suggestions to make the recipe better are more than welcome.

Cheers,
Yousuf

p.s. This pasta is as Italian as I get.

p.p.s. Apologies for the bad photo quality; the battery on my camera ran out and I had to rely on the phone camera instead.

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