Friday, February 22, 2013

Ricotta and Spinach Manicotti

                  As you may have already guessed through previous posts, both me and my husband are big lovers of Italian food. We love to explore different Italian restaurants and try different dishes.

             At one such local family owned restaurant, I got to try Manicotti, a type of stuffed pasta. I had something like this for the first time and loved it. Ever since then, I wanted to try and make it at home. So here is my attempt on this Italian classic.

  • 1 packet Manicotti Pasta Shells (around 14 shells)
  • 1 container (15 oz) Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian Blend Cheese
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 cups chopped Spinach
  • 2-3 minced Garlic Cloves
  • 2-3 cups Pasta Sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • Preheat the oven to 400o F
  • Cook the Manicotti Shells as per the package directions.
  • Rinse with cold water and drain
  • Chop the spinach and keep it aside
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the Ricotta cheese, Italian blend cheese, half of Parmesan cheese, garlic and spinach
  • Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and mix it well
  • In bottom of an ungreased glass baking dish, spread a cup of pasta sauce
  • Now, fill the Manicotti with the cheese mixture and place it over the sauce in the dish
  • Repeat it with all the remaining Manicotti shells

  • Pour remaining sauce over the Manicotti
  • Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on it. 
  • Then, cover tightly with the aluminum foil and bake for 28-30 minutes
  • Uncover it and serve hot

  • Italian Blend cheese add a distinctive flavor to the dish, but you can substitute it with Mozzarella Cheese
  • You can make this recipe in advance. Cover it with foil and refrigerate it until ready to bake. Bake when you want to serve. You might need to bake it for an additional 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Black Chickpea Chaat

          Black Chickpeas Chaat or Chana Chaat is a popular roadside snack in India. It is, like other chaat dishes, spicy and tangy, or chatpata as we call it in India. This dish can also be made with white chickpeas or garbanzo beans, but I like it more with black chickpeas.

  • 4 cups black Chickpea soaked for 6-8 hours
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 boiled Potato
  • 2-3 finely chopped Green Chili 
  • 2 tsp Garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Chaat Masala (Optional)
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • A pinch of Asafoetida
  • 1/4 finely chopped Cilantro
  • Cook the soaked black Chickpeas. I prefer to use pressure cooker to boil it.
  • If using a pressure cooker, cook for 4-5 whistles or tilt they are cooked.
  • Make sure they are not overcooked else it will become mushy.
  • In the meanwhile, dice the boiled potatoes and keep it aside.
  • Once the chickpeas are cooked, drain the water.
  • Now, heat some oil in a pan. Add Asafoetida and cumin seeds.
  • As soon as cumin seeds start to crackle, add the garlic paste and saute it for about a minute.
  • Then add the Chickpeas to it and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Now transfer the chickpeas to a big bowl.
  • Add the diced potatoes, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions and green chilies to it and mix it well.
  • Then add salt, pepper, chaat masala and lemon juice to the bowl. You can adjust it according to your taste.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Beans and Corn Enchilada

           Mexican cuisine in US has lot of similarities to the Indian cuisine. They have some very similar flavors. So the first time I had Quesadillas and Enchiladas here, I loved them so much that I tried making them at home. They were so tasty and filling that it became our go-to dish during our student life.
          So, here is an quick and easy recipe for tasty Enchiladas. You can also add more vegetables to the stuffing like spinach, bell peppers etc as per your taste and availability. This is a basic Beans and Corn Enchilada recipe.

  • 2 Burrito sized Tortilla
  • 1 can Refried Beans
  • 1 small Onion
  • 4-5 pickled Jalapeno slices
  • 1/2 cup boiled Sweet Corn
  • 2-3 Olives
  • 1 cup red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 cup Chunky Salsa
  • 1/4 cup Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Heat some oil in a pan
  • Add the re-fried beans and mix it well
  • Let it simmer for 5-7 minutes
  • Meanwhile, finely chopped the onions, jalapenos and olives
  • Take a tortilla, I prefer spinach and tomato flavored tortillas rather than the plain flour tortilla. You can also use whole wheat tortilla
  • Spread a spoon of Enchilada sauce and a spoon of Hot sauce evenly on the tortilla.
  • Then spread a spoon of salsa on it
  • Now take 2 spoons of beans and keep it in the center of the tortilla
  • Add some onions, corn, jalapenos and olives over the beans.
  • Now sprinkle some garlic salt, black pepper and oregano leaves
  • Fold the tortilla as shown below.
  • Then add some more enchilada sauce and salsa on it.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on it 
  • Now heat for 3 minutes on high in Microwave
  • Enchilada is ready!!! Enjoy!