One of my favorite dishes - Pasta! And one of my favorite things to do- eating Pasta! Pasta came into our lives a little late because it took its own time to travel from Italy to America and then to India.
In Chennai (South India), one of the best baked pasta can be found in the Eden restaurants at the Harrisons, Nungambakkam. My mouth waters even now when I think about their Pastitso.
Of the base dishes; Rice, Breads (Rotis in India) and Pasta; the last one is not too familiar in India(at least a few years back). And trust me cooking a complete Pasta meal takes lesser time comparatively.
Pasta - 1 cup (I loaaaaaaooooooooove Penne Pasta. I usuallySdon't prefer spagetti)
Veggies - As many as you want. Carrots, Beans kinda. Chop them into small, cute vertical pieces.
Tomatoes - 1 big, chopped
Tomato puree - 1 small can. Hmmm well its your choice absolutely to use this. The reason I use it is, it stops the Pasta from getting thicker. And I insist this product only when there are guests.When its you, then I guess you can prepare the puree yourself.
Garlic - at least 4 cloves. Aaahhhh, I love the essence of garlic.
Butter - 1 stick (Oh come on, its once in a while)
Cheese - loads (Again, once in a while)
Salt - 1 tbsp
Pepper - 1 tbsp
Here you go:
1. Cook pasta in boiling water for nearly 15 mins. Most pasta packs will have the heating instructions. But guess what, I prefer cooking at least 5 mins more than what is specified in the pack.
2. Cook the carrots and beans to a moderate level. Normally it takes 20 mins for it to get cooked completely. But for this dish its enough if you cook for 15 mins.
3. In a wide pan or kadaai heat the butter.Once it melts add the garlic and saute for a minute. Now add the tomatoes and saute till they become soft.
4. Add the puree and let cook for 2 mins
5. Add the cooked veggies and saute. Add salt and pepper. Let cook for a minute.
6. Now add the cooked pasta. Saute and let cook for 2 mins.
Pasta is ready to be served if you don't want it baked. For baking process read further.
7. Spread butter in a baking dish. Put some shredded cheese on the dish. Now spread all the ingredients into the dish. Put the rest of the cheese as if covering the entire stuff with a pool of cheese.
8. Onto the preheated oven for just 15 mins.
The cheese melted on top and the penne slightly brown in colour is the best sign of a perfectly baked pasta.
Serve hot with Italian wine (Oops!)