A green evening…Fusilli in a Vegetarian Romesco Sauce & Cheesy Grilled Aubergines

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They say that necessity is the mother of invention and, as I found out, there is no better time than a Friday evening with friends to test out an old saying.

I had just come back home from a customised & exclusive (yes, you can get those too) Finely Chopped Fort Walk with Anita Breland & Tom Fakler of Anita’s Feast, Chef Joel D’Souza & Baking Sorceress Reshmy on Friday evening when some friends of ours dropped home after ages. Dhruti and Kaushik who had brought a shirt they had got specially Tailored ® for me.  Dhruti, a convert to non vegetarianism through marriage, was reminiscing about the veg Thai curry I had made when she had come over last. She said, “I hope you cook for us today”.

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Well, few things charge me up at the end of a tiring day as the idea of cooking for people so i readily shook my weariness away and entered the kitchen. We had another friend, Harshad, dropping by who had converted to vegetarianism so I knew that I had a challenging brief for the night. While bacon, pork belly, mutton and prawns would work for our usual guests, I had to think green this time.

I was about to order some vegetables from the market and checked with D, “do you eat mushrooms?”…”no”…”do you eat baigan?”….”no”. Much later I figured out chicken would work for her.

So this is what I cooked up. Thought I will share the recipes if you wanted ideas for vegetarian dishes that are quick to put together. 

Pasta in Catalan Romesco sauce (for 4-5)

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Prep:

  • Boil 200 g pasta…I used fusilli which was at home…and set aside
  • Romesco sauce: Pound 6 garlic cloves, 50 g of mix of almonds & walnuts, 3,4 springs of finely chopped parsley in a mortar and pestle. Add 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and 5,6 tomatoes cut into small pieces and blend together
  • Other ingredients: Chilli peppers, sea salt, sharp cheese ( I used feta), more olive oil, more garlic

Cook:

  • Heat 2,3 tablespoons of EVOO on a low flame
  • Add 4,5 cloves of garlic
  • Add, 3,4 red hot chilli peppers, sliced
  • Stir and then add in the blended Romesco sauce
  • Cover the sauce pan with a lid and let the sauce cook for about 3,4 minutes
  • Take off the lid, add in the pasta
  • Gentle mix, add sea salt to season. About a tablespoon of it. The grainy texture gives the dish an uneven bite of salt which is so Spanish
  • Add some feta to the pasta and then top with some olive oil. To add colour I sprinkled some Mediterranean sumac on top and sun dried tomatoes. You could add paprika too.
  • That’s it

Now I had already called for some brinjal before Dhruti said no. I was planning to call for portabella too but by then I knew she was not into mushrooms. Vegetarians, even quasi ones, can be picky.

I didn’t want to waste the aubergines so this is what I did

Grilled Aubergine with Cheese

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Prep

  • Cut thin flat slices of aubergine. Brush on both sides with olive oil. Stick on bits of slice cheese on one side. Place on a greased foil on a baking tray with the cheese side pointing up
  • Preheat oven at 200 C for 10 min
  • Other ingredients: sliced cheese. For plating: a bit of parmesan, parsley, chilli bits

Cook:

  • Put the tray in the pre-heated oven for 20 min at 200 C.
  • Once done let it rest for 10 minutes or so inside
  • Take it out. Carefully take out the slices of aubergines and put on a plate with the cheesy side facing the top
  • Grate some parmesan on top of the aubergines and add some colour with a touch of parsley & chilli

Even the brinjal hater amongst us loved this cheesy crisp brinjal bake

In case you are regular reader and are worried, don’t be. I added some jamon to the pasta of  us non vegetarians

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