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.


Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways


  • 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


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


  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 let 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.



Mushroom 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.


Recipe adapted from: Sweet and Savory

Serves : 4


  • 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



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.



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

Egg Aappam

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I have a thing against keeping unwanted things at home. If something is not used at least once in an year, I discard it. The only exceptions to this rule has been my appam pan(abelskeiver pan) and aappachatti. I have been clinging onto those two pans all these 12 years even though I almost never make sweet appam or aapam. 

But all that changed in the past few years. I now make aapam a lot. The main reasons is that the soaking time is less and you can use a mixer jar over grinder which makes it very easy. The quantity of the batter is also less thus making it ideal for a family of three. Above all I like the taste and the happiness that comes from serving food that you love. One of the variations I try is the egg aapam. 

Aapam batter can be made with grated coconut or coconut milk. I prefer making with grated coconut. Some recipes call for cooked rice that has completely cooled down. Others don’t. I try to add the cooked rice, but if I don’t have any I just skip it. Some recipes call for a teaspoon of soaked fenugreek seeds, I try to add it if I remember to soak it ahead. 

Though aapam is traditionally made in the aappachatti, it’s only for getting the bowl like shape. You can cook aapam in any pan you like without compromising the taste.

Read on for the recipe.   

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  1. Soak 1.5 cups raw rice (basmati would also do) for at least 2-3 hours. Soak 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds(uluva/ vendayam) ina small separate bowl for the same amount of time. This recipe serves about 4-5 people. 
  2. Drain and grind the rice along with fenugreek seeds, 1/2 cup grated coconut, a handful of cooked rice, 1 teaspoon instant yeast (if using active dry yeast, follow the package directions to activate) and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a blender. You need to add water as needed to grind this into a smooth batter. The batter is a little on the watery side. Let the batter ferment overnight or until it’s grows double in size in a tall bowl that has room for the batter to grow. Once it ferments, add salt, mix it well and refrigerate. 
  3. At the time of serving, heat the aapam pan. If you don’t have one, you can use a regular flat pan. Mix the batter well and if it’s thick, add a little water to loosen it up. The batter should be runny enough to be swirled in the pan to get the bowl-Ish shape. That’s the consistency you are looking for. 
  4. Add a ladleful of batter to the pan, swirl and cover the sides. For egg aapam, Crack an egg into the middle of the aapam. Cover and cook until the egg is done. Take off the pan and continue cooking the rest of the batter. Serve with sweetened coconut milk or kadala curry


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

Zucchini Burrito Bowl


September and April are two months when Blogging marathon goes a step further and becomes mega marathon. That means an entire month of blogging with Sundays off. 26 recipes in a month. The theme for this month is a generic protein rich foods. 

With almost a two month long summer vacation where I neither cooked or clicked, I wasn’t a 100% confident that I would be ready to participate this month. Somehow between old drafts and some simple everyday recipes, I am here finally! 

The first recipe in the series is a simple black beans and zucchini burrito bowl. Burrito bowls are very easy to make and it’s a favorite at home. Black beans is loved in almost all recipes and so I always have some in hand. I served the beans preparation with cooked brown rice, grated cheese, sour cream and homemade guacamole

Read on for the simple preparation and the pictorial. 


Recipe source: Mexican zucchini and corn burrito


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 (14 oz) can black beans
  • 1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Saute one big chopped onion till pink. Add two medium diced zucchini and cook for a few minutes. Now add one cup of frozen corn and one can of black beans. 

Add a teaspoon of chili powder and dried oregano each. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add one 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes or 5-6 pureed tomatoes. Mix everything well, check the seasoning and let it cook for 10-15 minutes until zucchini is done. 

Here I have served it as a burrito bowl with brown rice, grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream. 



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

Cuban Black Beans


Like always, my little break from the blog turned into a big vacation! I would love to tell you that I am back refreshed and energetic from my ‘break’, but that would be a big fat lie. The thing is, with the long weekend and an upcoming actual vacation, its been a little hectic here. The to-do list is long as always, but this time I am not working myself up too much over it. The mantra is to finish as much as I can and leave the rest as it is.

Coming to the recipe here, I was supposed to post it last month for the Latin American theme for Blogging Marathon 76. But though I was done with the cooking and clicking, I never got the time to sit and edit the pictures and upload it to the blog. The recipe is from the book The Cuban Table by Ana Pelaez and Ellen Silverman. We had some friends coming over and we served this in Chipotle burrito bowl style. The bowl had brown rice, black beans, grated Mexican cheese, tomato salsa, corn salsa, sour cream and some lettuce.  It was one of the best meals to date. The best compliment I received was the empty bowl of beans and rice and satisfied smiles :-).

Read on for the recipe, its one of my favorites already!1cuban_beans

Serves 8-10 people

For the beans

  • 1 pound black beans (~1/2 kilo)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sofrito:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt as needed


Wash the beans thoroughly and soak it overnight. The next morning, rinse the beans and add to a big pot along with about 7-8 cups of water. Add one large chopped onions, one diced bell pepper, 4 crushed garlic cloves and a tablespoon of olive oil and cook for an hour. Since I used the electric pressure cooker, I cooked it for only 25 minutes. For the sofrito (onion garlic base for the beans), warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a pan. Add one diced green pepper, 3 chopped garlic cloves and one large chopped onion.


Cook until the onions are pink. Add 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and ground cumin, salt as needed and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes.


Add the prepared sofrito to the black beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the beans to a low boil and let it cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is thickened and the beans is cooked well. For me, it took another 25 minutes to get to the thickness I liked. Add vinegar to taste. Take off the heat and serve with rice.


This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.