I love a good pasta, and its not secret to the readers of this blog, right? In spite of this undying love for pasta, I rarely order pasta when I eat out in Hyderabad, they try to pass off some soggy pasta in tomato sauce for Arrabbiata ... and I always feel I can do much better than those pastas.
The only pasta I relish is Masala Mafia in Little Italy. That one, I love, totally.
Now, not eating pasta anywhere out but loving it is a tough combination, which is why am always on a lookout for a good pasta sauce recipe, or spent a lot of time thinking them up. This one is from one such thought processes, and of course that awesome Red Chilli Pesto pasta I had in Chillies.
Yes... that was one awesome pasta I had... one of the best I've eaten. The first forkful made me feel like I was in Pasta-Heaven, and I had decided there and then to recreate that pasta. Only when I got down to deconstructing that pasta did it occur to me that there had to be some other protein in it. It couldn't have been just red chilli pesto coz I hadn't felt the searing heat of the chilli. There was a flavor and the distinct color, yes, but not the heat. I couldn't figure out what they used, but I decided to turn to one of my favorite ingredients, Peanuts.
Peanut Hummus is something I thought up, very similar to the peanut chutney we Telugus pair with Idlis, our breakfast staple. So keeping the peanuts as a base, I worked around the other ingredients to make it non-South-Indian, yet keep it Indian. I roasted a handful of peanuts, and ground them to a thick paste with some garlic cloves and salt.
As for the chilli paste, I just ground up a good amount of red chillies with salt and refrigerated the paste. I used some fresh red chillies that are in season now, but if you do not get these, you can soak up a handful of dried red chillies in hot water and grind them.
This pasta was yummy, with a distinct peanut flavor, and the faint heat of the chillies. If you, like me, love peanuts you'll love this. If you are not a peanut lover, you'll still love this pasta for the amount of nutrients it packs up, and its amazingly simple method of preparation! :)
Chilli Pesto & Peanut Pasta [Serves 1]
Level - Medium
Preparation time - 15 min, if you have all the ingredients ready, 30 min, if you have to start from scratch
Peanut Hummus - 1/4 C [Preparation below]
Red chilli paste - 1 Tbsp [Depending on how hot this is!]
Mustard paste - 1 Tbsp
Olive oil - 1 Tbsp
Garlic cloves - 4-6, finely diced
Dried Oregano - 1/2 Tsp
Paneer (Cottage Cheese) - 1/4 C [Optional]
Salt - To taste
Pasta – 1 C [I used 4 whole wheat vermicelli nests]
Peanut Hummus – Roast a handful peanuts. Let it cool and remove the skin off the peanuts. Grind them with the garlic cloves in a mixer-grinder with some water. Add salt to taste, and refrigerate it.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box.
Heat oil in a pan, and sauté the garlic cloves. Sprinkle the dried oregano on this.
Add the peanut hummus, mustard and red chilli pastes and sauté them all together.
If this resembles a thick paste, add some boiling water to get this to a sauce-like consistency.
Add salt to taste, and gently mix the cooked pasta to this.
Sprinkle the crumbled cottage cheese on this, if using.