My pasta journey has progressed considerably since 2001 when I first tasted this exotic sounding dish! For a tam bram girl from Madras (Chennai these days) everything other than rasam, sambhar, karamadu (vegetables) rice and thayir saadam (curd rice) sounded exotic! Though to be fair, my dad had introduced me to the pizza when I was in class 6! I love to make pasta at home when I am hit by sudden cravings for this dish and have also managed to get my parents interested 🙂 The first time I heard of pink sauce was at a fancy restaurant in New York.
It was the first day of my new assignment and I reported to this busy office near Grand Central! My new boss who was not popular with the team, treated me to lunch just so that I would schmooze up to him! The jaw of my colleagues dropped when they heard that I had been invited for lunch. They said I didn’t know what I was in for…hmmmph! I was confused and scared but then I was in NY! So what the hell…no point in being scared! Mummy and daddy were far away and I couldn’t just run back! This boss of mine had made plenty of enemies and wanted to ensure that the new girl was on his side! Politics! Whatever – who cares! Especially when I get to enjoy a gourmet lunch – some yummy spaghetti with loads of vegetables and pink sauce. Much to everybodies chargin, this guy resigned within a week and everybody thought I was the lucky one who escaped working with him and also got a lunch out of it in the bargain.. 😉
Now to the recipe, this one is a very toned down version (meaning less fatty!!) compared to what I had that day – 02-April-2006, but then nothing can beat the taste of pasta in a rich sauce 🙂 But considering the lifestyle that I have these days, rich food is something that is saved for festivals when all fried stuff like vadas and vadams make an appearance along with sugary and milky sweets cooked in clarified butter… Without further delay here goes:
Making the Pasta
- Fettucine Pasta – 350 gms
- 1 small head of broccoli separated into florets
- Salt 1-2 tbsp
- Olive oil – 1 tsp
- Fill a sauce pan with water and bring it to boil. Rachel Ray taught me that water boils faster when the saucepan is covered with a lid. You may want to try it too….
Add the salt and throw in the pasta with the broccoli. Yes that’s right! This ensures that the broccoli is steamed well enough to retain its color and some crunch.
Did you know that these little green florets are a power house of calcium? All us women should eat more of it!
- Cook the pasta for about 10 minutes – please do check your pasta box for instructions as the cooking time differs with the brands.
- Check if the pasta is al dente, turn off the gas and drain the pasta with the broccoli. Save some of the starchy pasta water as you may need it to thicken your sauce.
- Mix the olive oil into the drained pasta and keep it aside till it is time for the pasta to make its acquaintance with the sauce
For the Pink Sauce
- 1 medium sized Onion finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped/mashed. I really need to disguise garlic at my place and no! I don’t believe in Jain style pastas!
- Red pepper flakes – 1 tsp. Sometimes I conveniently use the packets left over after a home delivered pizza 😉
- Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- 4 big tomatoes – pureed
- 1 cup of milk. Go ahead use the whole milk if you prefer. Trust me it will taste much better. But I diluted mine because of the ingredient that is going to follow.
- 1/2 cup of cream. Yes that’s right! Cream…wonderful sweet and fresh cream!
At this point in time I was considering throwing away my calorie counter out the window. But then I decided I would do that if I used more than 1 cup of cream 🙂 In a real world, where my waist would always remain a size 26, I would just use cream instead of milk and if I am right that is how it is done for an authentic sauce.
- Chopped fresh basil and Parsley
- 1/2 c Parmesan Cheese or as much as your heart desires.
Since I couldn’t find fresh parmesan, I ended up using some parmesan flakes and decided that I did not care much for them! Nothing beats the taste of real parm.
- Olive oil – 2-3 tbsp
- 1 tsp of sugar – optional
- Add the olive oil to a hot pan followed by red pepper flakes and garlic. Move these around until the raw smell of garlic starts to fade
- Add the chopped onion and saute them until they start turning golden brown
- Add the pureed tomatoes, salt and pepper and start stirring the sauce on medium heat
- At some point in time, the sauce will begin to sizzle. Make sure you control the heat and keep stirring so that the sauce does not pop all over your stove
- Check for the raw smell of tomatoes and if that’s not there you are ready to move to the next step
- Add the milk and keep stirring the sauce as you add it – the sauce will change color. Now you can get my reference to pink 🙂 Check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper if required.
If the tomatoes are too tangy, add the sugar and stir. This usually helps to bring down the tanginess. And don’t forget to keep stirring – you don’t want the milk to curdle!
- Now, for the final touches: add the cream and keep stirring. Do a taste test again and when you are satisfied with the spicy and sweet flavor of the sauce, add some of fresh basil and parsley.
- Stir for a few minutes and switch off the stove. Add the parmesan and mix well. The sauce should be fairly thick by now.
A word of warning, this cheese does tend to be salty so I’d suggest that you add the cheese in batches and do a taste test after every batch.
- Arrange the pasta in a bowl, top it with the sauce and mix well.
- Garnish with the remaining parsley. Guests can add more parmesan, pepper or even tabasco sauce on their servings if they like! Mine did 🙂