Thursday, September 13, 2012
Recipe for baked pasta in cheese sauce
If you're into cooking (or, like me, wish you were into cooking) and you're on Facebook, be sure to join this amazing community called Foodilicious "Cooks @ Work". Started by some angel called Sharmeen from Abu Dhabi, the community has amassed over 105,000 members since 2007 and today boasts the most incredible resource of home cooked recipes (primarily from South Asia but also other parts of the world) that I've ever come across. You could plan a menu for the next six months and never have to buy tea items from the bakery again just by picking up recipes from this forum.
I'm trying to cook regularly these days and wanted to make an easy recipe for pasta today. Picked up one from Foodilicious and adapted it slightly, and it turned out pretty well! This is not something you'd want to cook up for dinner guests, but it's perfect for a quiet, no-fuss lunch at home with your kids. (Original recipe posted by Nitu Chugani, who apparently got it from Ree Khan from Pakistan.)
2.5 to 3 mugs of pasta boiled in salted water (I used farfalle or bow-tie pasta)
3 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of white flour (maida)
3 cups of milk
2 cups of grated cheese of your choice
a teaspoon of salt and a good sprinkle of black pepper, dried parsley and dried basil
Two fistfuls of chopped green coriander leaves (cilantro, if you're from the US) (leave some chopped stems in for the crunch)
Melt the butter on low heat, stir in the flour and sautee for a minute or until the mixture is fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in the milk, making sure no lumps are formed. Mix well and return to heat, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened (the quantity of milk will have reduced by about half). Add half of the grated cheese and the salt, pepper, parsley and basil.
Add the coriander leaves and the pasta. Mix well. If the mixture is too thick, you can add some more milk. Put into an oven-proof dish, sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top and then sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven for about twenty minutes, then turn off the oven and bake it under the broiler (on low) until the cheese browns. Eat fresh out of the oven (but please blow on the pasta before forking it into your mouth).
The original recipe called for baking it all the way through but I preferred doing it this way. I feel that layering a pasta dish always helps rather than having the same thing from top to bottom. In this case, the variation came with the textures: gooey at the bottom and crunchy on the top.
Let me know if you've tried this and if you can think of a way to improve on it!