Sharmi on the Trot

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Archive for the tag “pasta”

Picnic Pasta Bake with Mini Chicken Meatballs

The much-loved Delhi winters have come and gone but the weather hasn’t turned so warm that one can’t enjoy a picnic. If you ever visit Delhi, make sure Lodhi Gardens is on your go-to list. Green, gorgeous, tranquil and in the heart of the city, the gardens are a perfect picnic spot. I absolutely adore picnics. It’s a time to be silly, play badminton to your heart’s content (a great exercise for the indulge ahead), eat gorgeous food, doze under the shade of a tree, catch up on your reading, gossip with friends and feel like a child in the adult world. This bake is super easy but takes time. So, make sure you are not in a hurry. It is the perfect picnic food to consume on a lazy weekend in the midst of history and greenery with friends from back home.

The gorgeous greenery at Lodhi Gardens

The gorgeous greenery at Lodhi Gardens

For Meatballs (Makes 12-15 depending on size)
500g Minced chicken
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs chilly flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 egg
250g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbs oil

For Sauce
2 large ripe tomatoes (diced)
1 onion (chopped)
1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 can tomato puree
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilly flakes
1 tsp heaped smoked paprika
3 tbs butter (room temperature)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil

For Pasta
2 handful Penne
1 lt boiling water
1 tsp oil
Salt to season

For Bake
2 cubes of cheese (grated)
1 tsp butter (to grease baking tin)

The view from our picnic spot

The view from our picnic spot

– Boil the water with oil and salt. Cook the penne according to packet instructions.
– Drain penne and keep aside. But save the water.
– Place the minced chicken, chopped onion and garlic, dried oregano, chilly flakes, cumin, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
– Mix well and use your hands to form mini meatballs. Keep aside.
– Heat a pan and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and chilly flakes to sautee well.
– Add the chopped carrot and onion. Let them cook through.
– Add the tomatoes and the can of tomato puree.
– Add oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Clamp on a lid and let the sauce cook.
– As the sauce cooks, heat another pan with oil.
– Once hot, add the meatballs in small batches and brown.
– Add the meatballs to the sauce and let them cook through. Be patient as this will take some time. You will notice the sauce reduce considerably in quantity. Take off the heat
– Grease a baking tin with butter. Pre-heat the oven to 250 C
– Take out the meatballs and place them in the tin.
– In the sauce, add 1 tbs butter and a ladel of the starch water. Mix well.
– Repeat this twice more untill you see a sheen on the sauce. It will become a thin sauce.
– Add more dried herbs (optional)
– Put the meatballs back in the saucepan along with the penne. Coat pasta and meatballs well.
– Place the mixture in the greased baking tin and cover generously with grated cheese. (I use processed for this)
– Put in oven for 20 minutes.
– Take out once the cheese has melted and cool
– Pack in foil and you’re ready for the picnic!

The pasta bake uncovered!

The pasta bake uncovered!

The view from the top - Pasta bake, biryani, chips and two types of cakes!

The view from the top – Pasta bake, biryani, chips and two types of cakes!

After a soul satisfying day, we saw the sun set at Lodhi Gardens

After a soul satisfying day, we saw the sun set at Lodhi Gardens


When Roasted Veggies Are The Way To Go

I love simple food. It’s a life saver when you’re back from a 30-hour jet-lagged journey and exhausted. Recipes which call for a zillion ingredients and a lot of time, I don’t really have the patience for. So, when I opened the fridge to find two aubergines and tomatoes staring at me, shouting ‘eat me, eat me’, I just couldn’t help myself.
It’s November when the weather is neither hot or cold — just the perfect balance. A time you need comforting food for the troubled soul.
Out came the roasting pan and on the stove went a pot of salted water. In 30 minutes I was hungrily digging into a plate of roasted vegetables with Penne, topped with grated cheese all gorgeous and oozing with flavour.

Roasted Vegetables with Penne

Penne (handful)
2 tomatoes (chopped roughly)
2 aubergines (chopped roughly)
4-5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs dried chilly flakes
Pinch of salt and sugar
Grated cheese (for garnishing)

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degree C.

Cook the Penne as per packet instructions in salted water.

In a roasting dish, put all the ingredients and toss so everything is coated with the oil. Cover with foil and pop into the over for 25 minutes.

By the time the vegetables are roasted, the pasta would have cooked. Keep aside a bit of the starchy water.

Mix the Penne with the vegetables. Add the water if there’s not enough sauce to coat everything.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve hot!

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

The left over bake

I realised on Sunday that it’s been a while since I’ve written about what I’ve been cooking! Yes I’ve posted about the new things I’ve eaten but having cooked something new, no. Everyone has a grocery day and mine happens to be Saturdays. On Saturdays I go to the weekly vegetable market, where farmers set up little stalls filled to the brim with delicious and fresh veggies. However, thanks to pending deadlines I was unable purchase my weekly goods.

So Sunday morning, tummy rumbling, I opened the fridge to find some tomatoes, two bell peppers, two cucumbers and an eggplant. This is what happens when you forgo your weekly visit to the vegetable market! The only thing left to do was create something exciting (it’s Sunday after all). And thus my ‘left over bake’ is exactly what it sounds like. An attempt to finish off remaining vegetables but create something delicious at the same time.


100g pasta (I used macaroni)
2 bell peppers (I used one red and one yellow, diced)
1 tomato (diced)
1 onion (chopped fine)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
1 tsp chilly flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbp olive oil
2-3 cheese slices (I only had the processed kind)

Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and chilly flakes first. Add the onions and bell peppers. Stir for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato, tomato sauce and oregano. Stir till about cooked through. Season according to taste. Keep aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Cook the macaroni till al dente in a pan of boiling salted water. (You can do this while preheating the oven)

In a baking dish mix the cooked vegetables and macaroni together. Layer the top with the cheese slices and bake for 15 minutes. (To get a crunchy cheese layer, change the oven nob to top heat for the last 5 minutes).

Serve with a side salad or garlic bread.

Just out of the oven... hot hot hot!

Just out of the oven… hot hot hot!

Just perfect with a glass of white!

Just perfect with a glass of white!

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