Quick dinner, from the scratch

It was over a casual conversation with my extremely fit landlady that I realized that my favorite quick fix dinners of pastas would still stay quick even if I did them from the scratch. The point is that your dinner preparation starts the minute you start shopping for the ingredients, not really only when you start working in the kitchen. So if I focus a little more on getting my ingredients fresh, the dinner turns out healthier and tastier with almost the same effort as when one uses preservatives-packed sauces and condiments.

So here are the two of my favorite quick recipes where I make everything on my own but still in under 30-40 minutes:

Creamy Veggie Pasta
Serves 2

I Used Fusilli

Ingredients
1. Two cups of pasta of your choice (I used fusilli)
2. Three to four vegetables of your choice (Recommended: unshelled sweet peas, red pepper, fresh oregano leaves, garlic)
3. Olive oil
4. Two tablespoons of all-purpose flour
5. Once cup milk
6. Two tablespoons of unsalted butter
7. Cheddar cheese

Preparation
1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packaging. Strain and keep aside when done. Tip: add one teaspoon salt into the boiling water for both taste and better texture.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan and dice unshelled sweet peas and deseeded red pepper. Chop the oregano leaves.
4. Drop finely chopped garlic into the heated oil and stir slowly to avoid burning. Add the sweet peas and red pepper to the heated pan and sauté until soft. Add 3/4th of the chopped oregano leaves and salt to taste; stir quickly to avoid burning. Keep aside.
5. Add the butter to the heated pan and let it melt. Follow by adding the all-purpose flour. Mix well. Now, add the milk while constantly stirring.
6. Add salt to taste, remember that pasta and vegetables are already salted. Mix well and let the sauce heat until small bubbles start to form. Then, add the sautéed vegetables to the white sauce.
7. Keeping the sauce on low heat, add the strained pasta to the pan. Mix well and cook for around two minutes on low heat.
8. Sprinkle some shredded parmesan cheese (optional, if you like cheesy flavor), ground black pepper, and the remaining chopped oregano leaves and serve.

Basil Chicken Pasta
Serves 2

Fusilli again, because I love it

Ingredients
1. Two cups of pasta (fusilli again, because I love it)
2. Two-hundred grams of chicken fillet (or any other boneless part of chicken)
3. Hundred grams fresh basil leaves
4. Two large tomatoes
5. Red pepper
6. Olive oil
7. Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packaging. Strain and keep aside when done. Tip: add one teaspoon salt into the boiling water for both taste and better texture.
2. While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken fillet into small chunks, roughly chop the basil leaves and dice the red pepper. You may choose to not deseed the pepper if you to keep the pasta slightly spicy.
3. Dice the tomatoes into large chunks and then purée them in the food processor/blender.
4. Heat olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan, and add the diced chicken. Shallow fry for until the chicken turns white, leaving no tinge of pinkness. Now add the purée and cook for around two minutes. Add one teaspoon salt, mix well. When the chicken seems cooked (test with a fork), add red pepper and basil leaves. Let them steam for around a minute on low heat.
5. Now, add the strained pasta to the sauce and mix well keeping the heat low.
6. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle some ground pepper and serve.

And just like that you never have to use those run-of-the-mill market sauces again. Of course, if you wish and have time on hand, you can experiment with more elaborate sauces to enhance the flavor and add variety to your meals.

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2 Responses to “Quick dinner, from the scratch”

  1. My batter gets lumpy no matter how much milk I add and how fast I stir 😦
    What could be wrong?

  2. They look delish! You know, I have never made white sauce based pasta from scratch. I should give it a try, the next time. I actually like white sauce more than red. 🙂

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