Sunday, August 4, 2013

Penne pasta in white sauce

For someone who grew up in a typical South Indian household, breakfast meant idli/ dosa and lunch was synonymous with rice and a coconut based gravy. Needless to say, pasta was as foreign to me as well, idli/ dosa is to an Italian ( giggle, grin, chuckle ) !! Fast forward to a few years later. Packets of instant pasta flooded the markets and curious to taste this exotic sounding food, I bought it one day and mum made it for me. I didn't quite like it and obviously so, pasta never reappeared in my house for a long time again.

A couple of years passed and a lot had changed. Marriage and moving to a different part of the world meant that I was in sole charge of the kitchen . I used to cook the usual fare everyday and one such day , out of boredom, I decided to try something new. A colleague at workplace used to bring pasta for lunch quite often and I had slowly begun to like it. Well, to break the ice between the two of us ( pasta and me :) ), I decided to try making it at home once again ( Well ok, Im not counting the first try as mine..:) ). I gathered all that was required and began, albeit, a little wary all the while !!

That was the first time but not the last !! Both, me and hubby loved the outcome :) and so I went on to cook pasta more often than before. It is so easy to prepare and gets done so quickly that it is one of those dishes which I decide upon when I don't feel like working forever in the kitchen. Pasta, like pizza is quite a versatile dish and you can add your favorite veggies and meat in desired proportions . Here, I have added carrot, peas and chicken.


Ingredients :

Penne pasta  -  1 cup
Chicken, boiled and shredded or cut into tin pieces -  150 gms
Carrot, finely chopped - 1
Peas - 1/2 cup
Garlic cloves, finely chopped - 2-3
White sauce ( See recipe here ) - 1 cup
Red chilli flakes (optional ).. - 1/2 tsp ( See notes below )
Mixed herbs or basil, oregano and thyme  (I used store bought pasta spice mix ) - as per taste
Grated cheese (optional ) - 2 tbsp
Olive oil - 1/2 tsp + 2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method :
1.  Boil about 8 - 10 cups water. Add pasta, 1/2 tsp oil and a pinch of salt and cook till al dente ( pasta should be soft but firm ).
2.  Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan. Add chopped garlic cloves and sauté till they turn brown.
3.  Add the vegetables ( here carrot and peas ) and the chicken pieces ( shreds ) and stir for a while.
Do not overcook the vegetables…they must be  crunchy.
4.  Add the pasta, red chilli flakes, salt to taste and mix well.
5.  Add the pasta sauce and mix well so that all the pasta and the veggies are coated well.
6.  Add herbs and grated cheese and mix. The cheese will melt in the hot pasta. Serve with a glass of wine…heaven foodified :)

1. While adding the seasoning and grated cheese to the pasta, please bear in mind that the white sauce for pasta already contains these two ingredients. So, use them minimally in the pasta.
2.  The pasta sauce contains salt so adjust salt accordingly in the pasta.
3.  For the red chilli flakes, I just pulsed  few dry red chillies in the blender. Do not add water.

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