Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pasta at last

Things have been hectic at work and so many holy days that seem to be coming every week. So many things cooked but no real posts. There have been several cooking sprees followed by days of lethargy with only rice and vegetables to eat. It surprises me that I never think of pasta for an easy meal. May be it has everything to do with my south Indian upbringing. When a quick meal is required, a hastily made rice, dal and vegetables (thanks to my trusted pressure cooker from India) seems easier to make than pasta. Clearly if only cooking times are considered pasta certainly wins hands down.

Eating rice is becoming very habitual. So to break out from my cooking 'block', I decided to make some pasta from my newly acquired Lidia's family table cookbook. Lidia Bastianich is quite detailed about sauteeing times and cooking times. Her soups sound very warming and interesting in their use of sofrito that is added at the end of the cooking process. But for now here is her recipe for sun-dried tomato and cannellini bean with rigatoni.

Sun-dried tomato and cannellini bean pasta

2 T oil from sun-dried tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes
1.5 cups cooked beans
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil that have been sliced into strips
1 T chopped parsley
grated parmigiano-reggiano
Hot pasta cooking water
1 lb rigatoni

Start cooking pasta. In a skillet, heat both the oils, add garlic and chili flakes and cook until colored lightly. Add the tomato strips and toast for a minute. Pour in 1 cup of pasta water and cook until liquid reduces to half the quantity. Stir in cannelini beans and 1/2 tsp salt and another 1 cup or more pasta water. Bring to a rapid boil for 4 min or so. The sauce would have become sort of thicker 'coz of the beans. Scoop the pasta onto the sauce and saute pasta until done to your liking. Toss in parsley and cheese.

The dish is so flavorful although I added only about 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes to reduce the oiliness. The tender and creamy beans are a great contrast too. According to Lidia, spinach also is a great addition to this sauce.


  1. Love the name of your blog, I miss jackfruit tons. Anyways, I like Lidia, how do you find her cookbook. I used to watch her in the US on PBS but now that's out of reach.

  2. Hi Gia- A visitor from Italy, I am thrilled! I like this book better than Lidia's book that has recipes from the PBS show. I think the book I have has more authentic Italian recipes.

  3. I agree with you Mika, that pasta is such an easy thing to prepare. I always make it on weekends with readymade pasta sauce and some frozen veggies. Sometimes I add boiled eggs too. I like your recipe with sun dried tomatoes. I will definitely give it a try next time.