Penne in spicy, herb tomato sauce

Pic: Corbis
Sometimes, even if it is the weekend when you have the luxury of time, you just don’t feel like rustling up multiple dishes for a meal. That’s exactly when I get working on this dish, which is so simple that if you plan –  by making the sauce in advance – well it could take about 10 mins to put together. But anyway, I prefer making the sauce fresh as far as possible and prepare it earlier only when I know I will be running short of time. What I like about this recipe is the kind of scope it gives you when it comes to innovation – with the basic sauce in place and the boiled pasta, you can toss any veggies or meat that you like and sprinkle with some cheese to finish it off. 
Here’s what you need
200 gms of pasta, I generally use penne or the conch shaped one
2-3 medium sized tomatoes, blanched and pureed to form a paste 
1 onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped (use lesser if you like but I prefer the strong taste of garlic in my pasta)
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
100 gms of mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp of dried herbs
1/2 cup of sweet corn kernels, blanched
1 green zucchini, chopped
some black olives
Olive oil
Salt to taste
Chilli flakes
Cook the pasta in lots of water along with some salt and olive oil. The oil helps to prevent it from sticking. Cook till it is al dente, drain the water and run under cold water to arrest the cooking process and keep aside. 
Now heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onions, when they have started changing colour add the garlic and saute well. Follow this with the zucchini and other veggies like carrots, broccoli, etc. If you are using bell peppers, then add them in the end to retain some of the crunch. After this, add the tomato puree along with some water and cook well. Cover and allow it to simmer for a few minutes. Uncover the pan and add the rest of the vegetables, check the seasoning. Just before turning it off, sprinkle the herbs and chilli flakes, add a generous pour of olive oil if you want to store it for sometime in the fridge. 
To this, add the boiled pasta and mix well. Allow it to sit for some time so that the flavours are absrobed by the pasta before serving. Serve warm with some garlic bread and a simple salad on the side. 

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