Monday, September 20, 2010

Penne in Pesto Sauce

On a much needed rainy day after a long hot gruelling summer all that I wanted to do was sit out, watch the rain and sip some wine. So pasta was my obvious choice for dinner - which reminded me of a pesto sauce that I have been wanting to try ever since my visit to Carabbas. Pesto comes from pestâ which means "to pound or to crush". It is for most part made by crushing basil leaves with garlic, salt and pine nuts. sun dried tomatoes are a nice addition to the pesto. 
Anyways for this time around I wanted something that was healthy, quick, easy to make and I was not in the mood to run to the store. I luckily had the basic things that was needed and it was a breeze to put this together. I was ready with my sauteed mushrooms and pesto sauce by the time the pasta was cooked. 

2 cup - penne pasta
2 cups - fresh baby spinach leaves
1/8 cup and some - pine nuts
1/8 cup - walnuts
1 tsp dried basil (fresh basil works best)
1 Tbs butter
3 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped mushrooms
fresh ground black pepper
red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta as per the instructions on your pasta box. I normally some salt to the water and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the chopped mushrooms in 1 Tbs olive oil along with 1 clove of thinly sliced garlic, salt, and some red pepper flakes.
While that is going on add the washed spinach, basil, pine nuts, walnuts, 2 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, butter and 2 Tbs olive oil to a food processor or mixer and grind for a minute. the pesto should be thick but not smooth. 

Toss the pasta, pesto and mushrooms together and enjoy. Told you , it was a breeze :)

bon appetit !!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vegetarian Stir-fry

This is one of my most favorite things to prepare for a weeknight dinner, simply because it hardly takes any time and its yum - for those of you who run in the other direction even at the mention of 'tofu', well it doesn't hurt to try something different and maybe give the meat section a break. I have never been a big fan of tofu myself but off late I have developed a taste for it and mostly its restricted to this one recipe :)  
I like that it has very little flavor of its own so that I can season or marinate it to suit the dish without worrying too much. It being low in calories and high in protein earns a big plus on my chart. You want to be sure to use the "firm tofu", otherwise you are just going to be left with broken pieces and that's not very appetizing when it comes to stir fry. 


firm tofu, cubed (about 15 pieces)
small onion -1 (cut to 1 inch pieces)
fresh ginger, sliced thin
fresh garlic, sliced thin
red and/or green peppers - quarter each if using both
green chillies - 2
red pepper flakes
soy sauce - 1/8 cup
stir-fry sauce - 1/8 cup
olive oil - 1Tbs


Heat the oil in a pan or wok. Add the thinly sliced ginger and garlic and enjoy the aroma for a minute. Now add the onion and red/green peppers and the green chili and fry until the onions start to brown slightly. Add the soy and stir-fry sauce and mix well. You could try different sauces like sweet and sour, peanut sauce, oyster sauce or anything else that you have a fancy for. Add salt and some red pepper flakes for that extra kick. 

Watch the spice levels - you can do just the green chili or just the red pepper flakes. But if spice is not an issue I would recommend adding both. once you have mixed the sauces, add the tofu and mix to coat them well with the sauce mixture being careful as to not break the tofu pieces. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes and turn of the heat. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with boiled or fried rice.

If you don't think you have enough gravy, add a little more sauce but not too much. It is always a good idea to taste before you add more.

bon appetit !!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Banana Bread

There is something very comforting about baking your own bread and when that's a banana bread, it bumps it up a few notches. What I love the most about this is how it fills my home with this wonderful smell - the wait seems way too long. I have tried a few recipes for this over the years with small variations and finally settled on one that I want to blog about :) 

This is probably one of my most frequently made snack simply because I always have a lot of bananas at home and hate to see it go to waste. You should make sure not to make the bread if your bananas have turned black - that will make it bitter.

I love banana bread for a lot of reasons - it can be served for breakfast, or as a snack for tea/coffee, or serve it with some ice cream for dessert - the bread itself is not overly sweet. Endless possibilities are always attractive. It also reminds me of an authentic Indian sweet dish called 'appam' that's part of the Kerala cuisine. The texture is different but the tastes are pretty similar. I personally like the bread plain, but I do add walnuts sometimes for a change. 

Even if you are not into baking but do like bananas, do try this one out.


banana - 4 medium sized
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
11/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (9x5x3 inch) and set aside. In a large bowl, mash the bananas and combine butter, egg and sugar into it. Now add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well. Add the flour to the mixture little at a time until it is moistened - it will be lumpy. Once all the flour has been combined with the mixture, fold in the walnuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes in the preheated oven. Insert a toothpick into the center and check if it comes out clean.
Cool in pan for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. 

bon appetit !!!
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