Friday, 29 March 2013

Spaghetti Arrabbiata - Comfort Italiana

Like most, I doted on my elder sister. She was my master chef. I loved everything she cooked. She made the most simple things taste amazingly different. After she got married, I got invited pretty often to her place for lunches and dinners. And since I studied in a college right next to her house, I invited myself a lot too:) She didn't mind, just like a perfect elder Indian sis :) I got to eat Gujarati, North Indian, South Indian, Chinese and most importantly Italian and Mexican- the two cuisines I fell in love with.
She once cooked two layered spaghetti with paneer balls (we are vegetarians) and garlic bread for dinner. I must have surely got into God's books for gluttony that night. But my storia d'amore with Italian food started that night. I am head over heels in love now :) So, today, I am going to share a recipe that is close to my heart- 'cause it cheers you up if you have blues:) Spaghetti Arrabiatta with extra helpings of parmesan cheese.

Arrabbiata- comes from Italian word "arrabbiato" which means anger. The sauce owes its name to hot red chillies that go in its making. I try to keep the chillies a little bit down since nor me nor can my husband can eat extremely spicy food. But you can add more chillies if you like it hot.
We will begin from the beginning...
Arrabbiata for four:

800 gm fresh tomatoes
2 red chillies
4-5 fresh garlic cloves 
2-3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
handful of basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh parsley- finely chopped.
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tbsp lemon juice
Dried Italian herbs and seasoning- as per taste
Salt to taste

Wash the tomatoes thoroughly. Make a X with a knife at the bottom of each tomato- not very deep though. While you do this, heat water in a large vessel with the lid covered. Once it starts boiling, drop all the tomatoes in it. Let them blanch till you see skin coming off the tomatoes. Carefully remove them and let them cool in a big plate. Peel them and de-seed them. Strain the juice and throw away the seeds. Chop the de-seeded tomatoes. Blend about 3/4th of them using a hand-blender. 

Pound fresh garlic using mortar and pestle. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a pan. Saute the garlic on a slow flame but do not brown it. Add remaining 1/4th tomatoes and let them saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the blended pulp. Now, add the juice. Cook for 4-5 minutes on slow flame. While the tomatoes are cooking, make a paste of the red chillies in a mixer-grinder. Add it to the tomatoes. Cook for anothe minute or so. Turn off the heat and add salt and 1/2 tsp sugar along with some dried Italian herbs and seasoning. Add lemon juice. Add fresh parley and basil. Mix well.

Cooking Spaghetti with farm-fresh vegetables for four:

600 gm spaghetti
6 litres of water
60 gm. salt
1 tbsp- extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup- bell peppers juliennes 
1/2 cup mushrooms
8-10 florets of broccoli 
2-3 baby corns- cut in juliennes 
2-3 tablespoon parmesan cheese- freshly grated or powdered
Dried herbs and seasoning to taste

(If you do not have such a big container, cook the spaghetti in two turns. It is a bit of effort, but it is worth it. This ratio was given by an Italian chef and it works wonders).

Heat the water in a big container till it starts boiling with its lid covered. Add salt and spaghetti. Add olive oil only if using fresh pasta. If using dry pasta, do not use any oil. Cook with the lid off. Cook till al-dante (you can just bite into the pasta but it is not very soft). You can also cook till a bit softer, if you like it that way. I prefer al-dante. Once cooked, remove from heat and strain it and give a cold water bath so that the spaghetti does not stick together. Add half of dried herbs and seasoning and mix well.

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add all the vegetables except mushrooms. Cook on a slow to medium flame for about 5-7 minutes. Now, add mushrooms and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add some dried herbs and seasoning. Add the sauce and mix well. Add spaghetti only when ready to eat. Top it with some freshly grated or powdered parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. 
If you do not wish to add the veggies to spaghetti, you can saute them and eat as a side. 

Enjoy! Bon Apetit :)

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