We eat a lot more pasta at this house than you might guess from just looking at this blog. I do end up posting about a lot of Indian dishes that I have whipped up because those have been perfected over decades, but having grown up and well-traveled children, and having a taste for all kinds of eclectic foods myself, I have taken on to other international cuisines like a fish takes to water. Pasta is really something that is now an Italian equivalent of Rajma Chawal in our house. Seemingly difficult but not so much, cooked at least once a week, loved by one and all and capable of being highly dynamic and adaptable!
I usually stock two types of pasta I my cupboard. The Bambino spaghetti style variety and the Del Monte penne pasta, both yummy with the experimental pasta dishes that I love to cook each time. Red sauce is somehow always my weapon of choice. While I do take that occasional white sauce with fusilli at restaurants, at home I am best with my red sauces. They have an interesting story because they’ve evolved as my (and my family’s) eating and cooking tastes and preferences have evolved over time. Now, they are an amalgamation of things which we have picked up over years and what we love and enjoy 🙂
My entire family and friend circle loves my various recipes of red sauce pastas and swears by them. My simple plain tomato sauce with absolutely nothing other than garlic, salt and pepper is my family’s comfort food of choice. If we’re having pasta for a dinner party or get-together, then I like to do a slightly more elaborate version adding dry fruits, jalapenos, olives, mushrooms and pine nuts.
For this blogpost, however, I would like to write about a recipe that is somewhere in between. Not so simple, and definitely not difficult. It takes around 10 minutes to prep and another 20 minutes to cook. Within half an hour, a café style red-sauce pasta is ready for you to delight yourself and your guests alike!
People seem to jump to pasta often for vegetarian mains because of its simplicity, ability to satisfy hunger and assortment. There is a lot that can be done with a few ingredients and that means that creativity is at its peak when pasta is in the kitchen! What you will also notice is that most ingredients are within easy reach, right in your own kitchen! I use basil leaves because I love its flavour and I have two plants at home. If you have other herbs like thyme and oregano in your kitchen garden, or other veggies in your backyard, please feel free to toss them in.
These subtle herbs add to the layers of flavor, and the veggies make the pasta dish healthy and yummy! Now watch this video and find out how simple this actually is. So join me as I walk you through the recipe in this indigenous (which may mean home-made in other languages 😉 ) video. I have always used written recipes however, I decided to ask my son to help me shoot a video this time as I cooked the pasta and may I add, I am delighted with the results. I am able to show you exactly how I like to prepare my pasta and the video adds that extra personal touch which makes me feel connected with my blogging buddies, readers and now viewers!
Quick summary for those who would like it written for reference..
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6
2 garlic heads, top quarter cut off to expose cloves
4 tbsp olive oil
8 – 10 fresh basil (tulsi) leaves
4 small tomatoes
1 medium sized onion
salt + pepper
pinch of grated mozzarella cheese (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or chilli flakes (however you refer to them)
1 pack Del Monte pasta
Cook the pasta according to package directions with a fat pinch of salt in the water. I use around (Tip: Sometimes I reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining.) 2 litres of water at most times and a big steel utensil. Make sure you use clean scrubbed vessels throughout cooking to ensure it is hygienic and healthy for your loved ones.
In a non-stick pan, heat your oil. Now sauté your chopped onions and garlic when the oil is medium hot. Add the chopped tomatoes when both the onions and the garlic turn translucent. (tip: you can also pre-boil the tomatoes and peel their skins off to make a puree that can be added at this stage)
Once drained, add the cooked pasta to the pan. Whisk in the basil leaves, pepper flakes, some salt + pepper, (and some of the reserved pasta water if you set it aside) Set aside. Serve pasta with extra sprinkling of basil leaves on top and extra chili flakes if want that special kick!
There you have it! My bright and happy pasta with red sauce. It perks me up every time I cook it and my family every time they eat it… Now you know why bright and happy? Do try it our and let me know how it turned out to be… Good luck on your #ItalianEscapades 🙂