Italy may be famous for its fashion and architecture, but more so for its cuisine. There are two Italian experiences that food aficionados cannot seem to get enough of; Pizza and Pasta. The endless ways these two can be created with is what truly sets these two dishes apart. You may choose to create a Tandoori Pizza or a Mexican Pasta, adjusting the ingredients to suit you own palate, and no one would bat an eye. That’s one of the reasons why these are two of the most readily available food items across the globe. You may not find a single French restaurant to satiate your Ratatouille needs within your city, but you’ll certainly find many serving a variety of authentic (or adopted) Pizzas and Pastas.
Back when I was a kid, I used to hate vegetables; what’s more, I used to detest cheese (can you believe this?). Pizza changed my life. I started enjoying these then-outlandish ingredients including Mushrooms, Olives and Jalapeños; mine was an instant love affair with Oregano. One of the first memories I have of my kitchen adventures is making Pizza at home; luckily, it turned out to be a smash hit with friends and family. There was no turning back after that, and it wasn’t long before I started relishing the rich, cheesy goodness of Pasta too.
My kitchen is my sanctuary and I love trying out new recipes. I often step into the kitchen with a specific craving, but there are these rare moments of insanity when I attempt to create something new. I still remember that balmy July afternoon some two years back; I came home from work and headed straight to the kitchen, only to be greeted by empty pots and pans. As my wife hadn’t cooked anything, I told her I’d try something experimental, something that would satisfy my Pizza/Pasta (a.k.a. P&P) craving. That memorable culinary escapade resulted in the masterpiece you are about to drool all over starting… NOW!
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3 persons
- 4 cups boiled pasta (I used Penne but you can use whatever you prefer)
- 150 grams chicken breasts (cut into ¼ inch thick strips)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3-4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- ½ medium-sized onion (diced)
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 pinch of oregano
- ½ teaspoon Ajino Moto (Mono Sodium Glutamate – optional)
- 3-4 tablespoon chili sauce
- 4 tablespoon pizza sauce
- 4 mushrooms (sliced)
- 6-8 slices of pickled jalapenos
- 3-4 olives (pitted and sliced)
- ½ cup sweet corn kernels
- ½ capsicum (medium) – diced
- 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- ½ cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 6-8 tomato dices for garnish
- 6-8 slices of garlic bread to serve on the side
- Put pan on a stove and turn it on to medium
- Add olive oil to the pan
- Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions to the oil and cook for a minute
- Add chicken and mushrooms to the pan and cook till the chicken is tender
- Add salt, pepper, red chili flakes, oregano, Ajino moto, chili sauce, and pasta sauce to the chicken and cook for a minute
- Add, jalapenos, corn, capsicum, olives, mayonnaise, cheddar and mozzarella to the sauce and mix well
- Turn the stove off as soon as the cheese is melted and stringy, as you don’t want to overcook the vegetables
- Gently fold in the penne pasta so that it is coated evenly with the mixture; patience is essential as you don’t want to turn it into a pulp
- Serve with a garnish of cheese, a dash of oregano, tomatoes, and a few slices of garlic bread on the side; I prefer using a cooking torch to give a nice char to the cheese
If you’re on the lookout for a rustic, delectable and hearty meal, this recipe fits the bill perfectly and satisfies your P&P cravings. Needless to say, you can add as little or as much of anything listed above to suit your taste; moreover, you can add a host of pizza toppings into the pasta, like pepperoni, sausages, minced beef, pineapples, etc. I assure you that this creamy, cheesy, aromatic dish is a “party in your mouth” just waiting to happen, so why not get started right away?
Published in The Express Tribune (International Herald Tribune) on 14 April, 2016.