Thursday, September 16, 2010

DOUBLE TROUBLE

The female part of our family likes creamy, soft flavors, while the male part of the family prefers clean, fresh flavors. So, when I cook pasta I always go in two directions: totally white sauce for one side and simple tomato sauce for the other side. I make my sauces a little special by adding some nutritious vegetables. 


The biggest mistake people do when they boil pasta is add oil to the water so they can avoid "sticky" pasta situations. But oil makes the sauce slide right off the pasta and prevents pasta from absorbing all the delicious flavors from the sauce. Result: two individual dishes on the same plate: pasta + sauce; instead of one heavenly meal you cannot have enough of.


Is it really so hard to stick around the oven during the time needed for the pasta to be cooked?


Manage your time.
- Once the water is boiling, it is enough just to stick around and stir the pasta until water boils again, turn the heat down a bit, set timer to 10 minutes (which is the cooking time for most dry pasta), and then just stir occasionally to prevent pasta  from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- And actually the time that it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook, is the same amount of time it takes to make the white sauce.


Double Trouble on FoodistaDouble Trouble

WHITE SAUCE (yields 2 persons)
Ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbs all-purpose flour, heaped
1 1/2 cup milk, hot
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nut meg
1/4 tsp ground dry sage
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded


In a pot put oil, onions, garlic, spices, salt, and pepper. Saute over medium heat until soft. Add flour, stirring continuously for a few minutes. Turn the heat down to low, pour over hot milk, still stirring vigorously to prevent lumps to from. Bring the heat up again to medium and when the sauce thickens and starts bubbling, add cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Pour over the cooked pasta (1/2 cup of dry elbow pasta per person), stir to combine, and serve. Or you can bake the prepared pasta at 375*F for 20 minutes topped with breadcrumbs for crunchy sensation.


How to prepare breadcrumbs?
Melt 2 tbsp of butter or heat 2 tbsp of olive oil, and pour the fat over 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs mixed with 1 heaped tbs of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and top the pasta before placing into the oven.



TIP: Adding spinach to the sauce will make the pasta dish quite sophisticated!


TOMATO SAUCE (yields 2 persons)
Ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 green bell pepper, finely cubed
1 jalapeno pepper, finely cubed
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper


Saute onions, garlic, and peppers over medium heat in olive oil until soft. Add salt, pepper, and paprika. Turn the heat to high, add tomato sauce and water, and bring to boil. Turn the heat down again to medium again, and cook for 15minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reserve 4 tbsp of sauce. Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta (again, 1/2 cup of dry elbow pasta per person) and stir to combine. Cover at let stand for 5 minutes, giving pasta time to absorb the sauce flavors.
Serve topped with 2 tbsp of sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.


TIP: Adding sweet green peas, carrots, or maybe even sweet corn kernels will give the sauce nice color contrast and boost the essence.

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