Pasta Salad

4tacco_pasta_salad

My son stands against anything with pasta and rice. He does eat both, but with such a long face that it almost makes me guilty. Almost… But I don’t give up on these two foods and keep bringing them to the table irrespective of the nasty looks, sighs and nays.

The kid does like salads, so I have started adding a bit of pasta to his salad. He seems to be okay with that. So now, once in a while, I pack a cold pasta salad for his lunch. I prepare it the night before and refrigerate so that the flavors can mingle.

A good thing about salad is that you don’t need to have an exact recipe. Whatever is available in the fridge paired with a bit of  dressing makes an excellent one. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of mayonnaise and honey mustard, but I am slowly including more of the classic olive oil and lemon juice now a days.

For a salad, I like the combination of vegetables with beans and fruits. The bit of sweetness that the fruit imparts gives a lovely flavor and the beans fill you up. Cheese is more for my son’s taste buds. For this particular dish, I had some ready made taco seasoning to be used up. So that went into the dressing with olive oil and lemon juice. This video from Tasty is what I followed for the dressing. I had to skip the jalapenos and garlic since it was for my son’s lunch box. Taco seasoning is a mix of spices and can be made at home as well. Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home.

3tacco_pasta_salad

Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 slices of cheese torn into small pieces or 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced mangoes
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt as needed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ready made taco seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook roughly about one cup pasta in boiling water with salt to get two cups of cooked pasta. Drain and et it cool completely.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients to the pasta. Slowly add the dressing, mixing it in. You don’t have to use all the dressing, you can stop when you feel that the taste is fine.
  4. Do a taste test before adding salt, since pasta was cooked in salted water and taco seasoning also has salt.

5tacco_pasta_salad

Advertisements

Dal dhokli

1dal_dhokli

There are many recipes from this space that I keep trying again and again. Yet I don’t try taking better pictures of some of the old favorites. Unless there is a push, I don’t think I would. So for this marathon, I had checked with Valli about redoing some of the old posts with new pictures. Dal dhokli was one of the posts I was planning to redo.

Dal dhokli is chapati dough seasoned with spices cooked in lentils. There are so many variations to this dish. My original post was an adapted version with a lot of vegetables. When I started cooking, I decided to make the original version and not redo my take on it before. So no vegetables and just dal with cooked dough in it. I went to the original source for my previous post and followed it for most part. I halved the recipe and added a handful of peanuts, but other than that, no changes.

Read on for the recipe.

2dal_dhokli

Serves: 4

Recipe source: Flip Cookbook

Ingredients:

For the dal

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3-4 dry red chillies
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 1 cup moong dal, cooked
  • 2 tablespoon toor dal, cooked
  • 2 tablespoon chana dal, cooked
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • handful of peanuts, optional
  • coriander leaves
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice to taste

For the dough

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ajwain
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • salt as needed
  • water to kneed into a dough

Method:

To make the dough, add the spices and oil to the flour and mix lightly using your hands. Then slowly add water, little by little and kneed into a soft dough. Cover the bowl and let it rest at least 20 minutes.

Wash and pressure cook the dals together with about 4 cups of water. I did this in Instant Pot for 8 minutes in Manual mode. Once the dal is cooked and the pressure is released, lets start the tadka. Heat ghee in a pot big enough to hold the cooked dal. Add the jeera seeds, mustard seeds, hing and dry red chillies. Let the seeds splutter.


Add the cooked dal, spice powders and salt as needed. Mix well and let it come to a slow boil. Meanwhile take a lemon sized ball out of the dough, pat it in some flour and roll it out into a circle. Cut out diamond shapes using a pizza cutter.

Add the dough pieces into the dal and let it cook.  Keep adding the dough until you are done with the dough. You can add more water if there isn’t enough liquid. Let it cook for about 10-15 minutes until the dough is cooked completely. If you feel like, you can roast one handful of peanuts in ghee and add it to the dal dhokli as well. Take off the heat, add a handful of chopped coriander leaves. At the time of serving, squeeze some lemon juice if preferred.

4dal_dhokli
BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

Spinach Dal

1spinach dal

This time our India trip wasn’t exactly a vacation. Our to do list was a long one but at the end of it, we could scratch off most of the items in the list. That meant our days would be spent outside going from one place to another, ticking off things from our list once they get done. 

One of the things was to sort out our personal things left behind in Chennai. We had rented out our house with one bedroom used as our storage. It was a huge task going through each and every thing, give off whatever we didn’t need and bringing back everything else to my in laws place. It sounds simple but it honestly was time and effort consuming. It took more than 2 complete days to get the stuff back to my in laws place and even more to sort it out.  I got a lot of stuff back to US including cooking books, food props and even my favorite wooden board. 

This recipe is from a bunch of print outs that I brought back from there. I just couldn’t throw it out even though it’s ten plus years old. So that makes the recipe a perfect candidate for Cooking from Cookbook challenge. It’s protein rich so that makes it good for Blogging Marathon #80 as well. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 1/2 a medium tomato, chopped
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 bunch of spinach, about 250 gms
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1/2″ piece ginger
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon each jeera seeds and mustard seeds
  • salt and lemon juice per taste 

Method:

  1. Wash and clean the dal.  Pressure cook along with the chopped tomato, a pinch of turmeric powder and enough water to cover everything completely.
  2.  Grind half of the spinach bunch with green chillies and ginger. Chop the rest of the spinach and keep aside.
  3. Once the dal is cooked and the pressure is released naturally, heat ghee or oil in a pan. Add the jeera seeds and mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
  4. Add the garlic and once it’s brown slightly, add the chopped spinach. Sauté for a few minutes. 
  5. Add ground spinach and cook for a few minutes. Add in the dal and salt as needed. Add water to bring it to the consistency you prefer and bring everything to a boil. Taste test and adjust the seasonings. Take off the heat and add lemon juice if preferred. 
  6. Serve with hot rice, a spoonful of ghee and a papad on the side.

2spinach dal
This goes for the September Week 4, Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
CCC-Logo

BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

Mushroom risotto

1mushroom_risotto 

Valli gives us ample preparation time and even reminders to get us started on the month long mega marathons. So for September, I knew that the theme was protein rich foods very well ahead. But as usual, I never got around doing any preparation. What I didn’t realize was that With a two month long India trip in between, there wouldn’t be enough time once I come back. 

Still I decided to participate for this month. My main confidence came from the fact that our daily food involves a decent serving of protein. So catching up won’t be very difficult. Also I already had about ten recipes in my drafts folder (magic folder) to get me started. 

This is one of the recipes from the draft. I had made this risotto with mushrooms and black beans a while back. I love black beans and go around adding a handful or a cup of it to a lot of recipes. The combination of cheese, broccoli and beans makes the protein factor look good. And to think that I wasn’t planning on a protein high meal when I was preparing this recipe :-)…

Risotto is made using Arborio rice but  the Indian idli rice is a good substitution and that’s what I used. Read on for the recipe. 

3mushroom_risotto

Recipe adapted from: Sweet and Savory

Serves : 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice*
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 200 gms mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup cheese
  • salt and pepper

* I used idli rice instead 

Method:

Heat oil or butter in your Instant Pot (Saute Mode) or a thick bottomed pan. Add the chopped onions and saute till pink. Add the sliced mushrooms and broccoli florets. Saute for a few seconds.

Add the rice, saute it so that it is coated in the oil. Add the cooked black beans and 4 cups of broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Change the mode from Saute to either rice or Manual. Cook for about 10 minutes. Release the pressure and stir in the cheese. Mix well and serve hot. If you wish, you can    sprinkle a handful of sautéed mushrooms on top before serving. 

2mushroom_risotto

BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80


 

Pumpkin kootu without coconut

1pumpkin kootu

Yesterday, I posted a kootu recipe with spinach and lentils and coconut in it. Today’s recipe is also a kootu, but with pumpkin, moong dal and no coconut. This is a very simple dish to make and tastes excellent. My son likes this dsh since its not very spicy and has a very mild sweetness from the pumpkins. Sometimes the pumpkin gets replaced by a combination of chayote/chow chow and carrots.

This is my friend’s recipe and  one I had tried many times now. I have been using  powdered hing for a long time now, but I am slowing making the switch to whole asafoetida. Hing aids in digestion and is used in almost all the places where you use lentils and beans. There is a nice and noticeable difference in aroma and flavor when using the whole hing.

The problem with whole hing is that it comes as a block and becomes rock hard in a day or two after you open the packet. My MIL told me that it is soft when its right out of the box. So that’s the time to cut it into very small pieces or make small balls using your hands. You have to store the pieces in air tight jars with a tablespoon or two of whole wheat sprinkled in. The wheat prevents the pieces from sticking together and becoming a solid mass again. At the time of cooking, you take a small piece and use it as usual. If a couple of pieces stick together, you can soak it in water overnight and by next morning, it would have melted. The flavor of whole hing is so much better than the powdered version.

Read on for the pictorial and the recipe.

4pumpkin kootu

Serves : 3

Recipe Source: My friend Mangalambigai

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup moong dal
  • 1 teaspoon jeera seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a good pinch of hing
  • salt to taste
  • 1 medium tomato
  • about 1 cup of chopped pumpkin

For the tadka

  • 1 teaspoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 red chillies, optional
  • 5-6 curry leaves

Method:

In a steel bowl, add the washed dal, chopped tomato and pumpkin pieces, jeera seeds, a good pinch of hing and salt as needed.

Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and enough water so that it covers the dal completely by about an inch on top. Pressure cook for about 3 whistles.

Once the pressure releases naturally, open the cooker and mash it a little using a ladle. Heat oil or ghee in a separate pan, add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the red chillies and curry leaves. Add this tadka to the kootu and serve hot with rice, papad and pickle. If the kootu is dry, you can add more water and bring it to a boil.

3pumpkin kootu

 

 
BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80