When you have young children at home, you have no choice but to be innovative and come up with interesting twists to existing dishes just to entice them and basically make them feel as if you are creating this ‘restaurant style’ dish just for them! This weekend we decided to finally start our ‘spring cleaning’ routine and of course the kids had to help out too. Starting soon after breakfast pretty soon a couple hours had passed while the clutter in the garage had reduced only by half. However the helping hands started to complain about feeling ‘famished’ already. OK so what were the options for lunch – How about a quick bread and omelette sandwich? Nah. OK how about a veggie grilled cheese? Nah, not in the mood.! Finally exasperated I said ‘Mom will make something and you will just have to eat it. Too bad.!’
I picked up the pasta box from the pantry and got to work. In about 30 minutes flat, I laid out this fabulous creamy pasta in a bed of vegetables and asked my kids to guess the secret ingredient. Well they dug in and loved the creamy sauce but could not guess what the mystery ingredient was.! Who knew how versatile peanut butter could be! Goes without saying that I will be making this more often going forward ! 🙂
I used cauliflower,spinach,broccoli and red pepper. But you could use any combination of vegetables. Adding a few shrimp would make this truly spectacular! I am going to share this at Fiesta Friday even though I am pretty late this week for the party! 🙂
Pasta with vegetables in a creamy peanut sauce
2 1/2 cups penne pasta
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cups vegetables cauliflower, broccoli(or any other veggies)
1/4 cup red pepper,chopped
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp red chilli(cayenne pepper)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup spinach,chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp unsalted peanut butter
1 cup marinara sauce
grated parmesan cheese (while serving)
1. In a huge stock pot boil water and when it starts boiling add the pasta along with salt and a dash of oil. Cook according to package directions – about 10-12 minutes until ‘al-dente’. Drain the pasta and reserve some of the stock.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a non-stick pan or wok with the oil and then add the onions and saute for about two minutes on medium heat. Now add the cauliflower,broccoli and the red pepper (or any other vegetables). Stir for a few seconds and then add the spices – red chili powder,garlic salt and salt. Cover with a lid and cook for about two minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Then add the spinach and again stir and cook for another couple minutes or so. Turn the heat off and keep aside.
3. To make the pasta sauce, take a medium size cooking pot and add the olive oil and butter to it. When the butter is melted fully add the flour and stir vigorously for about two minutes on low to medium heat. Then add about half of the milk and again continue to stir until the flour belnds fully with the milk to form a thick homogenous paste. Now add rest of the milk and again continue to stir slowly until all of the flour mixture is fully blended with the milk. Next add the cheese and continue mixing and finally add the peanut butter and the marinara sauce. Now add some of the reserved stock (from cooking the pasta) and add to this sauce until you get a medium thick consistency (add more or less stock to get the consistency that you like). Check for seasoning.
4. Finally just toss the pasta and the vegetables in the creamy sauce and serve warm with greater parmesan cheese on top!