Hubby and I drastically cut down on buying packaged dry pasta a while ago. Semolina is basically white flour in a grainy form. There isn't much nutrition or fiber in it. Plus, pasta prices have been hiked up quite a bit. Rs.150 for 500 gms is the lowest price I've seen in the recent times and that seems way too much to pay for half a kilo of semolina and salt.
There are healthier whole wheat pastas and gluten-fee rice/corn varieties available in the market now, but those are double, triple, quadruple the price. I can understand that it's slightly more expensive to produce GF products but just because something is gluten-free, doesn't mean it should cost an arm and a leg.
But giving up pasta entirely is not something I'm willing to do. For starters, it is so darned yummy. On top of that, it's unbelievably easy to whip up dinner when there's a pack of dry pasta on hand! So once in a while, we indulge and buy a big pack of pasta and then use it sparingly.
Conchiglioni and Farfalle are my very favourite kinds. The sauces and flavours get into all the little nooks and crannies and make the end result extra yummy. :)
When hubby and I discovered that Bambino, an old, Indian company known for its Semiya Vermicelli and Elbow Macaroni for many years now, has started to produce Shell Macaroni, we were super happy! Being a local brand, we knew they'd price their products quite reasonably. Nevertheless, we were delightfully surprised to see that they sell nearly 1kg (950 gms) of their Shell Macaroni at Rs.60!!!
Granted that Macaroni Shells are thinner and smaller than regular Conchiglioni Shells and they don't cook to a firm, al dente finish, but the difference isn't that big of a deal really. Especially if one's not looking to make anything fancy but just have an easy and delicious weeknight meal.
I don't have any fixed recipes I follow while making pasta. I just put together things depending on my mood and what's available on hand. I made this dish of Pasta Shells with Mint Tamarind Tofu in the last week of September and wrote down the recipe so I could share it during this last week of Vegan MoFo.
For that matter, most of the Main Courses that'll be on my blog this week have been made in September, while I was preparing for MoFo. So I'm thinking it's going to be a fairly chilled out week. :)
Pasta Shells with Mint Tamarind Tofu
For marinaded mint tamarind tofu:
1 block (200 gms) Tofu
1 small Capsicum
1/2 tsp Tamarind Concentrate Paste
1/8 tsp Turmeric
15-20 fresh Mint Leaves
1 1/2 C Shell Pasta
For final baking:
5 medium Tomatoes
Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Vegan Parmesan* (optional)
Rinse and press tofu between tissue paper to remove as much moisture as possible.
Thinly slice capsicum.
Finely chop mint leaves.
Mix everything with the rest of the marinade ingredients and toss well.
Cover and keep aside for 1-2 hours.
Bake uncovered in a preheated oven at 250 C for 15-20 minutes or bake in the microwave using the dual Micro-Convection mode for 5 minutes.
Bring 5 cups of water to a rolling boil and add salt.
Add the pasta shells and cook for 5 minutes, while stirring once in a while.
Turn off the heat, cover and keep aside for another 5 minutes.
Drain and rinse in cool, running water.
Chop tomatoes into large chunks.
Add the cooked pasta and chopped tomatoes to the tofu dish.
Generously shake Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, crush black pepper and sprinkle a dash of salt over everything.
Cover and bake in a 250 C oven for 15-20 minutes or in the Micro-Convection mode for 5 minutes.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle vegan Parmesan* and toss well.
*Vegan Parmesan: I mix the pulp leftover from making almond mylk with nutritional yeast and salt and dehydrate it. Then I store the dry 'Parmesan' in an airtight container in in the fridge and sprinkle it over all my pasta dishes.