Pasta for me is undoubtedly one of the best foods on earth. This particular recipe is the first pasta recipe I learnt (I have modified it a little). My friend Deepak’s mom taught me to make this and I am so thankful that she introduced me to this wonderful and versatile food. Pasta can be mixed with various sauces vegetables. Arrabbiata or the spicy red sauce is the most common sauce that we vegetarians especially Indian prefer. This sauce is slightly different version of the simple arrabbiata sauce.
There are different shapes of pasta available but Penne pasta goes well with the red sauce and especially Penne Rigate holds up the tomato based sauces well. Spaghetti is another pasta that goes well with the red sauce. Choose the whole wheat pasta if you want a healthier version. Things to keep in mind while boiling the pasta are; always cook the pasta aldente (that is till it is just done). Over cooking will take away the taste and texture both. Secondly, you do not always need to add oil while boiling the pasta. Just add plenty of water and your pasta will never stick.
Being a vegetarian does not mean adding just cheese to you pasta sauce. You can make it tastier and healthier by adding the vegetables of your choice. You can experiment with the sauce and add vegetables like carrot, broccoli etc and toppings like corn, olives etc. Traditionally pasta doesn’t have red chilli powder but I add it keeping in mind the taste of people I am cooking it for.
Try to mix the sauce just before serving. Pasta tends to absorb the sauce. If you want to prepare it in advance, save some extra sauce and add it just before serving the pasta. You can prepare the sauce in advance and just boil and toss the pasta in the sauce just before serving. You can sprinkle some cheese on top of the pasta or if you are a cheese lover, just add a layer of cheese on top of pasta and bake till the cheese melts.
Pasta is best enjoyed as a main course. Serve it with warm garlic bread.
Serves 2 (or 1 if you are a pasta lover like me)
- 250 gms or 2 cups of penne pasta (choose whole-wheat if you want a healthier version)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- ¼ cup onions finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- ½ cup finely chopped mixed bell peppers
- ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 2 tbsp fresh cream
- Cheese to taste and liking (optional)
- Salt to taste
Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet. You can use the following method if you want to cook it al dente (literally means to the tooth)
In a thick bottomed vessel, heat 2 ½ litres of water. Add 15gms salt to it. Once the water starts boiling add the pasta and cook on medium flame for 11-12 minutes. When you chew the pasta, there should be slight resistance at the centre. Drain the pasta and keep aside. At this time, you can add a little olive oil to the pasta and toss them well so that they do not stick once they are cold.
Heat olive oil in a pan. Add oregano and garlic. Sauté for a minute and add onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes or till the onions are translucent. Add mixed bell peppers and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes mixing the sauce in between. Add the tomato puree, red chilli powder, and pepper powder. Mix well and cook on slow flame till you see oil on top (approximately 5-6 minutes). Keep stirring the sauce in between. Add the fresh cream and switch of the gas. Add the boiled pasta and toss well. If you are not comfortable tossing the pasta, you can use a wooden spatula to very lightly mix the pasta with the sauce making sure you do not break the pasta.
Adding cheese is optional. You can sprinkle parmesan cheese on hot pasta just before serving or if you love cheese with pasta, arrange pasta in a baking dish and cover it with grated cheddar cheese. Bake till the cheese melts and serve hot.