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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  • 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


  • 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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  • 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


  • 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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Anonymous said…
for the grilled eggplant, if you stick bits of garlic into it, and even some herbs, it will perfume the flesh.

if you don't have too much garlic just rubbing it will do.

I would also season it - salt and pepper - before baking.

Personally grilled eggplant with garlic is good enough, I don't need cheese.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Will try this out but won't the garlic flavor be too strong for thin slices? Perhaps just rubbing it will do. I didn't season as I used cheese and the slices were thin
kaniska said…
love the picture of your going at the mortar and pestle. you look happiest. keep smiling.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
thanks...need all the encouragement K
Anonymous said…
Just add a bit of cream cheese ans a tablespoon of mayo to the pasta.....pure sin
Kalyan Karmakar said…
yeah...great idea :)
Anonymous said…
small pieces, say a cut up a clove into 5/6 pieces.

works wonders with oil.

cheese is fine, but i love to surprise people with the eggplant flesh scooped out, then ask well what do you think, their response "that's pretty good what is it", and I say "baingan" the look on the faces ha ha

some of your recipes are excellent, by the way. i like those the best.
IshitaUnblogged said…
For once your Mortar and Pestle shot looked like the one that I've just used in Thailand to make the Red Thai Curry. Current food trend discourages heating up EVOO - any thoughts on that? Both the dishes look fabulous!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
In fact I bought this after my cooking class in chiang mai :)

I asked about the EVOO thing in Spain. They said they EVOO to cook as they cook on a low flame. I am not an expert of course and even I used to avoid using EVOO before this