Ever since I became a vegetarian, I have been an ardent fan of Indian cuisine as it is one of the few cuisines that gives so many veg options. The only other cuisine (in my opinion) that caters well to a vegetarian palate would be Italian (yummy Pizzas and Pastas!). Very simple cooking yet so flavourful and tasty. I love pastas as they are healthy, satisfying and so easy to make. With a little bit of imagination, you can use your own ingredients and the combination is endless. The basic flavours of pasta usually remain the same - olive oil, garlic, Italian herbs (like rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano etc). Most recipes call for the pasta to be cooked to 'al dente' but I tend to cook it a tad bit longer as I like my pasta soft. There are so many varieties of pasta on the market; I used to wonder why they come in so many shapes and sizes??
Apparently, you have to select pasta to complement the sauce you are using - thin, delicate pastas (Angel hair, Anelini) must be used with thin sauces like soups; thick, dense pastas (Maniccoti, Orechiette) are to be used with thick sauces while pastas with holes or ridges go well with chunkier sauces. The safe buys are Penne, Penne Rigatte, Elbow Macaroni, Bow ties or Fusilli which complement most kind of sauces. Pasta is enriched with iron, folate and several other B-vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. You also find more nutritious versions like whole wheat or whole grain pasta (healthy, yes but we didn't find it as tasty as the original). Did you know that pasta is low on Glycemic Index i.e. these are foods digested slowly; slow release of energy without spiking the blood sugar level. Well, now you have plenty of reasons to have pastaaaah!
The common veggies I use with pasta are broccoli, zucchini and eggplant. (I am not fond of these vegetables as such but when added to pasta they taste quite good. Thus, pasta is my way of having these veggies!). This is a recipe with zucchini and eggplant. I like to use store bought crushed tomatoes for making the basic sauce (as it gives a good colour, texture and flavour) but you can also use homemade tomato puree - just make sure you use firm, ripe tomatoes. So let your imagination go wild - add ingredients as per your liking and create your own unique dish. Buon appetito!
Pasta with Zucchini and Eggplant: Recipe
Ingredients: (serves 2)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 to 4 finely sliced garlic
- 1 can crushed tomatoes - 250gm
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano, rosemary, thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 medium zucchini - thinly sliced
- 1 small eggplant - cut into quarters and thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 handfuls pasta (I have used fusilli)
- Coarsely chopped fresh basil for garnishing
- Grated Parmesan cheese- as per taste
- Warm little olive oil (you don't have to use a lot of oil as the slices are thin and will absorb the oil) in a pan, add the eggplant and zucchini slices and keep tossing it till they start browning. Season with little salt and pepper. Keep aside.
- Warm remaining olive oil and add the garlic slices. Let the garlic flavour seep into the oil but don't let them to brown as they will taste bitter. As soon as the garlic starts crisping at the edges, add the red chilli flakes also. Toss for few seconds.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and the herbs. Simmer it on low flame till it becomes a thick sauce. Do a taste test and adjust the flavours to your liking.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta as per instructions given on the pack. Drain and drop it into the thick tomato sauce. Also add the sauteed vegetables and combine everything together gently till the pasta is nicely coated with the sauce.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and basil. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Serve hot.
This is definitely a good way to add zucchini in your diet. So linking this to the Food Blog Event: