Roasted Cherry tomatoes with Pasta and breadcrumb Topping

There are days when you get back from work and need a quick dinner. If you have some cherry tomatoes in the fridge this is a dinner you can throw together while you have a cup of tea or coffee.

I saw a similar recipe in a food group on Facebook. Emily who is in the group makes some beautiful food and caters food. She is generous with her recipes and I adapted this from hers. She got the recipe from Bon Apetit Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipes . Emily grilled the tomatoes at 200ºF for 5-6 hours, mixing occasionally. I am sure that the flavors intensify. I did not do that. She also used anchovies; I used capers and olives instead. I modified this recipe with a recipe I saw in food network by Valerie Bertinelli and used eggplant too. Emily used toasted breadcrumbs and that really pops and I have started using it for a lot of pasta dishes. This recipe is an easy weekday recipe as most of the work is done in the oven. Relax with a cup of tea while the oven does the work.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed chilli peppers
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I made my own with leftover bread and lots of herbs, some walnuts and chilli flakes)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil or parsley
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp capers and olives
  • 3-4 chopped garlic
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • parmesan cheese 3 tbsp (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 300ºF (150ºC)
  • Place tomatoes, salt, 2 cloves garlic, sliced and 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast for 1 hour. (Or preheat oven to 200º F and roast for 3-5 hours. Keep mixing). Set aside
  • Mix breadcrumbs with herbs, salt and pepper. Add a tbsp of oil and mix to resemble damp sand. Add capers and chopped olives. Spread on a pan with parchment paper. Drizzle with a tbsp of oil
  • Increase heat to 400ºF (200ºC). Bake for for about 5 minutes till golden brown
  • Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain; reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid
  • In a pan heat 2 tbsp oil
  • Add garlic, stir for 30 seconds. Add eggplant and stir fry till cooked, but not overcooked
  • Add tomatoes Crush some tomatoes and cook for a few minutes
  • Add spaghetti and some of the reserved pasta water if dry and cook till well mixed
  • Pour into a serving bowl. Add some basil and drizzle some olive oil. Top with the breadcrumbs and serve
  • Sprinkle some parmesan cheese (optional)

South Indian Beetroot STIR FRY (Thoran/Poriyal/Palya)

Somedays you crave for something simple. A bowl of steaming hot rice with a dollop of ghee and some beetroot stir fry; a papad or crisps with that would be great; some rasam or curds/yogurt even better.

With all good intentions I had bought some beetroots to make dal. They were languishing at the back of the fridge and calling my name. One day, I was watching a show where they were talking of small eat outs in Bangalore and one of them had a thali with beetroot palya. That was my inspiration.

A simple vegetable stirfry is called thoran in Kerala, poriyal in Tamil Nadu and palya is Karnataka. You can substitute beetroots for beans or cabbage. The trick to this is to chop it fine. In Kerala they chop it much finer than in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, they add the green chillies to fry with the beets, but in Kerala it is added at the end. In Kerala you would use coconut oil to fry. Some people steam or cook their beets before stir frying. I prefer not cooking the beets before.

Ingredients

  • 3-5 beetroots (depending on size) peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies- either serrano or jalapeno
  • 1/3 cup grated coconut- I like coconut so i add a little more. You can to 1/4th cup if you want
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and asafoetida.
  • When the mustard seeds splutter, add beetroot and stir fry.
  • Add a tablespoon of water if required
  • Add salt. Keep stir frying till the beetroot is just cooked. It should not be too soft or mushy
  • Grind/ Pulse coconut and chillies together in mixer/blender till chillies are chopped fine. Do not add water.
  • Add coconut mixture to the beetroot and fry for a few more minutes
  • Serve hot with rice or roti
  • A complete meal would be rice, a lentil (sambar or rasam- recipe links below), beetroot thoran, a bowl of curds/ plain yogurt and a papad.

For Rasam recipe: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2020/02/27/rasam-a-tangy-spicy-soup-perfect-to-fight-a-cold/

Jeera Rasam: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2020/05/18/sandyas-sunday-lunch/

Sambar: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2020/04/07/sandhyas-recipes/

If you have not gotten enough of beets or have some extra, make this lentil rich beetroot dish and serve with rice or bread- For beetroot dal recipe: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2018/01/28/beetroot-daal-beetroot-with-lentils/

CRISPY SMASHED POTATOES – INDIAN STYLE WITH HERB SAUCE AND FRIED ONIONS

Potatoes are always a hit in my family, especially the baby potatoes. I usually marinate it and make a dry curry which can be eaten with rice or rotis. My mom makes it often and I have adapted the recipe. Today I decided to use similar spices but roast it and serve it as a side.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound baby potatoes (1/2 kg potatoes)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion finely sliced
  • Marinade:
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • Herb Sauce:
  • 4 tbsp cilantro/ coriander leaves
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions

  • Wash and cook baby potatoes for 8-10 minutes
  • Drain and peel
  • Mix all the ingredients for the marinade
  • Add to potatoes and mix
  • Put all ingredients for herb sauce in a food processor and blend
  • Add 2 tbsp of the herb sauce to the potatoes and mix
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes to 3 hours
  • Heat oven to 450ºF (230ºC)
  • Add a tbsp oil on a sheet pan
  • Add potatoes to the pan. With a bottom of a measuring cup, gently smash each potato to 1/2 inch thick
  • Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil on the potatoes
  • Roast for 40-50 minutes. Flip them after 20 minutes
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil
  • Fry onions till golden brown and crisp. Sprinkle some salt when frying to crisp it up faster
  • Once potatoes are crisp, remove and place on serving dish. Garnish with herb sauce and fried onions
  • Serve hot

Vegetarian Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna is a favourite in our home. What is not to like, it is pasta, with lots of vegetables and cheese; perfect for parents who are trying to get their children eat veggies. I add veggies that suit my mood or my fridge; it is sometimes spinach, mushrooms, eggplants, zucchini. The usual lasagna recipe also has ricotta cheese. I being lactose intolerant, make a small pan for myself with no cheese(!) or sometimes add some goat cheese since I can tolerate that. Making lasagna is usually time consuming; making the filling, the sauce and then cooking the sheets, then layering them and the baking for atleast 50 minutes; then letting it sit for 15 minutes before you serve so it does not fall apart. I always misjudge the time (and sometimes the amount of filling required) and dinner always runs late when I am making lasagna.

I came across this recipe in another group posted by Phillip Nicholas. His was with meat and ricotta cheese and I adapted it to a vegetarian version with teh cheese I had at home that day. It was easy (no pre-boiling of pasta sheets, layering or baking), all in one skillet and delicious. This recipe is a keeper!

Ingredients

  • 8-10 lasagna noodles (do not use the no-boil sheets)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or 1/2 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1 large eggplant , 1 inch dice (add salt and let it sit for 15 minutes, rinse and place on paper towels to remove excess water)
  • 1 green pepper (capsicum), 1 inch diced
  • 8 oz (approx 250 g) white or bella mushrooms, finely chopped (I like to add mushrooms for the meaty texture. If you don’t like mushrooms, you can add veggie crumbles or other vegetables of your choice or just more eggplant)
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (can use fresh tomatoes, chopped to very fine)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella (or 16 oz ricotta cheese) – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced or torn

Directions

  • In a large skillet (with a lid), heat olive oil
  • Add chopped onions and cook till soft (about 4-5 minutes)
  • Add garlic and red pepper flakes and mix
  • Add chopped mushrooms and fry till almost dry (about 4-5 minutes)
  • Add eggplant and fry till almost cooked. Add green peppers and cook for a minute. add 1/2 tbsp italian seasoning (Since I was making two pans (one lactose-free), I transferred some veggies to a smaller pan)
  • Break lasagna sheets into 1-2 inches and spread over the vegetables
  • Add water,crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and rest of the italian seasoning, salt and pepper
  • Bring to boil, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked, al dente. Taste for seasoning
  • If using ricotta, mix all the cheeses together.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drop dollops of cheese mixture (ricotta cheese mixture) or fresh mozzarella over the pasta and sprinkle the shredded cheese all over (For a lactose-free version, add goat cheese or vegan cheese)
  • Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and let it cook for a minute. Take off pan and let it sit covered till all the cheese melts
  • Top with fresh basil and serve

Sheet Dinners

This seems to be the craze right now and I know why. It is really easy, throw all your vegetables on a tray and bake. Makes an easy weekday dinner. I add spices depending on my moods. Make some rice, pasta or just have it with some nice crusty bread and cheese.

My son would like to start cooking when he gets back to college. He likes to cook and I was telling him that using an instant pot and a sheet pan will make his life easy.

So here are some sheet dinners.

Roasted Butternut Squash

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)
  • Peel and slice a butternut squash – 1 inch slices
  • Mix in a bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • Toss and add to a greased sheet pan. I sometimes use parchment paper
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Serve as a side

Roasted green beans

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)
  • Wash and trim 1 pound (1/2 kg) string beans
  • Toss in a pan with a tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • Slice 2-3 pieces of lemon
  • Add beans to a greased sheet pan. Add lemon on top
  • Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes
  • At the last 2-3 minutes, add some sliced almonds and roast
  • Squeeze lemon juice on beans.
  • Serve hot. It can be eaten as a snack or a side

Roasted and Smashed Potatoes

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)
  • Wash and parboil a pound of baby potatoes
  • Smash potato using a masher or a spoon
  • In a bowl, add potatoes, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, corinader powder, garlic and onion powder
  • Pour on to the greased sheet pan onto a single layer
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes
  • Serve hot

Roasted Vegetables

I usually use what vegetables I have in hand. Cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin roast well. I sometimes add italian spices, sometimes add indian spices like coriander, cumin, garam masala, sometimes Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute or chili lime or everything but the bagel. I also like to roast a head of garlic and then squeeze it on to the vegetables.

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)
  • Wash and slice vegetables to equal sizes
  • Toss in a pan with a tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and 3 cloves finely chopped garlic or any spice you like
  • Slice 2-3 pieces of lemon
  • Add vegetables to a greased sheet pan. Add lemon on top
  • Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes
  • Squeeze lemon juice on vegetables.
  • Serve hot.

Sandya’s Sunday Lunch

JEERA RASAM, PARAPU USILI AND MOR KOOTAN

Sandya, my niece sent me some more recipes. this would be sunday lunch at her home. Serve with steamed rice and some papadum. I make a different version of jeera rasam; I tried this after she sent me the recipe.The only change was that I added 4-5 cloves of garlic, which of course is optional. The rasam was spicy, tangy and perfect with rice. I had to pour some in a cup and drink it as a soup. This is perfect if you have the sniffles; it surely clears up your sinuses.

Jeera rasam

  • Soak 1tsp tur dal, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp pepper corns, and a handful of curry leaves for 30 min and grind in a blender
  • In a kadai or saucepan, take the juice of a lemon sized tamarind (lemon sized tamarind soaked in hot water and squeeze and discard tamarind and use the juice. Alternatively, use 1 tsp tamarind concentrate with 2 cups water). Add 1 chopped tomato, 1/4 tsp asafoetida, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 3-4 cloves of garlic (optional) and boil well.
  • Add the ground paste and adjust consistency by adding one cup water if required. Let it boil until it is frothy on the top.
  • Add ghee to a pan and add a tsp of mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter add to the rasam. This is called tempering. Add coriander leaves as garnish. Serve hot with steamed rice or drink as an appetizer soup.

Parupu (Lentils) usili

This is a dish you will love to eat over and over again. The lentils are roasted and golden and have a nutty flavour; the chillies combined with stir fried beans. I could just eat this by itself!


Courtesy: Geethas Kitchen

  • Soak 2 cups tur dal, 2 tsps channa dal, 3 red chillies in 3 cups water for 2 hours.
  • Grind without adding water with a few curry leaves and 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder into a thick paste
  • Steam as balls in a steam or on an idli tray
  • Once it cools, pulse in blender till it crumbles (pulse 2-3 times-do not grind). Set aside
  • Stir fry any finely chopped vegetables of your choice- beans/ cluster beans/ broad beans/ vazhai poo (banana flower). Set aside.
  • In a kadai or pan heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2-3 red chillies, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and a couple of curry leaves.
  • To this add the crumbled dal/lentils and saute on a medium flame until it becomes mildly crispy and brown.
  • Then add the stir fried vegetables and saute for another 2 minutes and serve with steamed rice.
  • The is a perfect dish to eat if you do not want carbs, just leave out the rice

Mor kootan (Coconut and yogurt sauce)

Mor kootan is a curd/yogurt based sauce which is perfect with rice. In the north of India a similar dish called khadi is made. In the south we use coconut and has a very different taste. It is a mild sauce with the coconut and yogurt mellowing down the flavours of the chillies.

  • Grind 1 cup sliced or grated coconut, 2-3 green chillies or jalapeno chillies, 1 tsp rice powder, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 2 cups curd/yogurt. Do not add water; grind till coconut and chillies are finely ground. Keep paste aside
  • Add 2 tsp coconut oil to a kadai/ sauce pan
  • Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2-3 red chillies, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and a couple of curry leaves.
  • When mustard seeds splutter add 1 cup of bhindi(okra)- cut to 1 inch pieces or cooked arbi (colocasia) or green peppers (capsicum) and fry till the vegetable is cooked. You could also use raw plantain, ash gourd or pumkin.
  • Add ground paste and mix. Add salt and 1 cup water
  • Take off heat once it starts bubbling.
  • Serve with steamed rice