Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Pumpkin Ricotta stuffed Shells

Creamy pumpkin and ricotta stuffed jumbo shells in garlic-y sauce; this Baked Shells recipe is the ULTIMATE Fall dinner recipe! 


Pasta is one of the favorites in the house. Especially stuffed and baked pasta. So jumbo shells are the go-to when it comes to pasta recipes.

This recipe of pumpkin and ricotta stuffed shells has been our Fall and Winter favorite for a while now.

These shells are creamy, cheesy and full of this delicious stuffing. The shells themselves are chewy and taste so good in the garlic sauce they are floating in! 

Why should you make these?

These shells are a great main dish for dinner through Fall and Winter. Honestly, they would be great year round. 

The pumpkin in the shells is less pronounced than most Fall dishes and the ricotta cheese along with sage helps make them creamy and delicious. 

Stuffed shells can work perfectly as a single dish for dinner. Or serve them with some soup or bread.

If you are looking for a delicious Potluck recipe, this one fits well. All made in a casserole pan or baking tray, these shells are easy to carry and serve. I have made them for quite a few occasions already! 

The recipe is pretty easy and most elements can be prepared a day before. In fact, the entire dish can be made a day before or several hours before serving. This is my favorite part for sure! 


What you need to make these?

Jumbo Shells: The starting point is definitely the Shells. I used jumbo shells here. They are available at most grocery stores (though quite a few do not carry them).

These shells can be moderately filled or over filled based on how you like the pasta to filling ratio.  

They have to be cooked before baking and ideally they should be cooked al-dente in salted water. Over cooking them while boiling will lead to a mushy final dish for sure. 

The Filling: The shells are stuffed with a mix of ricotta cheese, pumpkin purée (I used canned), sage and spices.

Freshly grated nutmeg and sage come together beautifully in the recipe. They give the pasta a perfect earthy touch! Along with the slight sweetness of pumpkin that adds to the flavor. 

Adding cheese is an option here too. I generally skip the cheese and yet the pasta tastes amazing. 

The sauce: The slight sweet filling is balanced by this garlic-y sauce. Full of garlic and some spices, the sauce brings everything together. 

A spin off from the traditional Béchamel sauce, this garlic-y version works well for all pasta recipes, especially the ones with squash as a component. 



Bringing everything together

Once you have the three components of the recipe, it is a breeze to put it all together. 

Pour the sauce in a pan or tray, arrange the stuffed shells and pour some sauce on top. Scatter some sage leaves and bake everything till the filling is cooked and the edges of the pasta are lightly golden.

Serve the pasta immediately or let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate or freeze. They can be reheated in a preheated oven or in the air fryer with a reheat mode. 

Tips to make this dish right

Ensure the pasta shells are not overcooked. Over cooking them might completely ruin the dish. Cook them in salted water so they do not taste bland after filling and baking. 

Sage and nutmeg make a great combination with the garlic sauce and pumpkin. Freshly grated nutmeg does make a LOT of difference in the flavor. 

Pumpkin puree can be swapped with roasted butternut squash puree too.

The easiest way to make this recipe ahead of time is to make the filling and the sauce a couple of days before. On the day of serving boil the pasta, fill and bake. 

Leftovers can be refrigerated for a day or frozen for several days. 


Steps

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). 

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Drop the pasta shells and cook till al-dente. 

Drain and set aside. Reserve some water to use later in the sauce. 

In a bowl add pumpkin purée, ricotta cheese, torn sage leaves, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. 

Fold the ingredients together.  


In a pan heat unsalted butter. Add minced garlic and some sage leaves. 

Once the garlic is fragrant add flour. 

Cook till the flour changes color to light yellow. 

Add milk and 1/4 cup mix well. Let the sauce thicken for a few minutes.

 

Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. 

Let the sauce bubble for a minute or so. Turn down the flame.


In an oven safe pan or tray add 3/4 sauce. 

Arrange the stuffed shells and pour the remaining sauce. Scatter some sage leaves. 

Bake the pasta for 20-25 minutes till the sauce starts to bubble and the pasta has crisp edges. 

Remove and serve with some toasted bread. 



Yield: 2 as a main, 4 as side
Author: Smruti
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Pumpkin Ricotta stuffed Shells

Pumpkin Ricotta stuffed Shells

Creamy pumpkin and ricotta stuffed jumbo shells in garlic-y sauce; this Baked Shells recipe is the ULTIMATE Fall dinner recipe!
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 1 H & 15 MTotal time: 1 H & 25 M

Ingredients

  • Jumbo Shells 14 
  • Pumpkin purée 1/2 cup
  • Ricotta Cheese 1/2 cup
  • Milk 1 1/2 cup
  • Unsalted Butter 2 tbsp
  • All purpose flour 2 tsp
  • Garlic 3-4 cloves, minced
  • Fresh Sage 5-6 leaves
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Ground Pepper 1 tsp
  • Freshly ground Nutmeg 1/4 tsp

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Drop the pasta shells and cook till al-dente.
  3. Drain and set aside. Reserve some water to use later in the sauce.
  4. In a bowl add pumpkin purée, ricotta cheese, 2-3 torn sage leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 pepper and 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg.
  5. Fold the ingredients together.
  6. In a pan heat unsalted butter. Add minced garlic and 2-3 sage leaves.
  7. Once the garlic is fragrant add flour and cook for a few minutes.
  8. Add milk and 1/4 cup mix well. Let the sauce thicken for a few minutes and add the remaining nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  9. Let the sauce bubble for a minute or so. Turn down the flame.
  10. In an oven safe pan or tray add 3/4 sauce.
  11. Arrange the stuffed shells and pour the remaining sauce. Scatter a couple of sage leaves and bake the shells for 20-25 minutes till the sauce starts to bubble and the pasta has crisp edges.
  12. Remove and serve with some toasted bread.

Notes:


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Sunday, November 15, 2020

Pineapple Zarda Sweet Rice/ Meethe Chawal

A rich dessert preparation made with rice, sugar and saffron; this take on Zarda Sweet Rice is made in the Instant Pot and has some added pineapple. 

Tropical, delicous and easy to make; this recipe is a MUST HAVE for festive season and beyond!  


This is a sponsored post on behalf of Authentic Royal Foods. All opinions are mine alone.  

What is Zarda Sweet Rice or Meethe Chawal?

A traditional recipe of sweet rice popular in India and Pakistan; Zarda is a preparation made with rice, sugar, nuts and saffron. 

The name Zarda comes from the Persian word Zard meaning yellow. Zafrani pulao or Meethe chawal as the recipe is also known is great as a dessert for any meal. 

From Diwali to Lohri and Holi, this preparation is quite easy to make and always delicious.

What rice is BEST for the recipe?

Rice is a popular ingredient in Indian cooking. It is used in a wide number of sweets too. Basmati is the rice of choice for SO many recipes in Indian cooking.

For the longest time I have been using Royal Basmati for my recipes and it always works really well. 

From stove top recipes or Jeera Rice and Pulao to Instant Pot versions of the same; I truly trust this rice for my dishes. 

Fragrant, long and great in texture, this is my go-to for sweet dishes like kheer and Zarda too. 


What is special in this recipe?

The traditional version of Zarda is made on the stove top. This version is made in the Instant Pot. 

The advantage of making it in the Instant Pot is that it is almost a dump and start recipe with ZERO monitoring! The rice cooks well and each grain remains separate after cooking. 

Plus, I added some canned pineapple chunks and pineapple juice to the recipe. This gives the rice a tropical flavor and a great bite from the pineapples. The nuts and pineapple go PERFECTLY with each other.



How to get it right each time?

The recipe is fairly easy and comes together pretty quickly. With rice, sugar, ghee and nuts being the most important ingredients; saffron helps make it yellow. 

Once you have all these ingredients, the recipe is a breeze! 

However, here are a couple of points I would say. First; toast the nuts and raisins well in ghee. It helps enhance the flavor and taste. Remove them after toasting and ensure they do not burn.

Next, be careful while toasting the rice. The rice will burn if it is unattended for a while. Keep stirring to ensure equal toasting. 

I added ice cubes to enhance the flavor and color of saffron. A lot of recipes call for warm milk. That will work too. There are sources that say saffron might burn with hot milk and so I like to use ice instead. 

If you would like your rice bright in color, add some yellow food color. I have not added any color to this recipe. 

Add the pineapple chunks last to the recipe and do not stir. Stirring might cause pineapple to stick to the base or sides of the Instant Pot and give a burn warning. 

Fluff the rice with a fork after opening the instant pot. 

Mawa and milk are often added to the recipe. They make the rice richer and can be added along with the other ingredients. 



Steps

Add saffron strands to a mortar pestle and lightly crush them. 

Place a couple of ice cubes on it and let them melt. 


Start the Instant Pot in Sauté mode and wait till the display reads Hot. 

Add ghee and heat it. Next add sliced almonds, cashews, black and gold raisins. 

Once the raisins are plump and the nuts slightly brown, remove and set aside. 


In the remaining ghee in the pot add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and mace. Sauté for a few seconds till fragrant. 

Add washed and drained rice and toast for a 2-3 minutes. 


Pour in water and saffron infused water. Add the sugar and pineapple juice. Mix well.


Place the pineapple chunks on top. 

Close the instant pot lid and press cancel. Set mode to pressure cook and time to 4 minutes. 

Let the pressure release for 5 minutes and release the remaining pressure manually. 


Open the lid and fluff the rice. Add the toasted nuts and raisins.

Serve topped with saffron strands and rose petals.  


Yield: 5
Author: Smruti
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Pineapple Zarda Sweet Rice/ Meethe Chawal

Pineapple Zarda Sweet Rice/ Meethe Chawal

A rich dessert preparation made with rice, sugar and saffron; this take on Zarda Sweet Rice is made in the Instant Pot and has some added pineapple. Tropical, delicous and easy to make; this recipe is a MUST HAVE for festive season and beyond!
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 22 MinTotal time: 27 Min

Ingredients

  • Basmati Rice 1 cup, washed and drained
  • Pineapple 1/2 cup, chunks
  • Saffron 1/8 tsp
  • Almonds 6-7, sliced
  • Cashews 8-10
  • Black Raisins 4-5
  • Golden Raisin 4-5
  • Mace 1-2
  • Cloves 2-3
  • Cardamom 1-2
  • Cinnamon 1 inch piece 
  • Pineapple juice 1/4 cup
  • Sugar 1/2 cup
  • Water 3/4 cup
  • Ghee/ Clarified Butter 2 tbsp
  • Ice Cubes 2-3

Instructions

  1. Add saffron strands to a mortar pestle and lightly crush them.
  2. Place a couple of ice cubes on it and let it melt.
  3. Start the Instant Pot in Sauté mode and wait till the display reads Hot.
  4. Add ghee and heat it. Next add sliced almonds, cashews, black and gold raisins.
  5. Once the raisins are plump and the nuts slightly brown, remove and set aside.
  6. In the remaining ghee in the pot add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and mace. Sauté for a few seconds till fragrant.
  7. Add washed and drained rice and toast for a 2-3 minutes.
  8. Pour in water and saffron infused water. Add the sugar and pineapple juice. Mix well.
  9. Place the pineapple pieces on top.
  10. Close the instant pot lid and press cancel. Set mode to pressure cook and time to 4 minutes.
  11. Let the pressure release for 5 minutes and release the remaining pressure manually.
  12. Open the lid and fluff the rice. Add the toasted nuts and raisins.
  13. Serve topped with saffron strands and rose petals.

Notes:


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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Instant Rice Flour Chakli

Spiral shaped Indian snack made from rice flour and spices; Chakli is a deep fried treat. It is an addictive tea time snack and a great Diwali recipe. 


Diwali calls for delicious snack and treats. Chakli is almost like a MUST-HAVE for us every year! 

An Indian snack made from rice flour and spices; these spirals are super addictive. When served with Masala Chai they make a great snack throughout the year. 

What flour do you need to make Chakli?

There are different types of chakli recipes made in different places. The rice flour Murukku in South India, the Bhajani flour version in Maharashtra and the wheat flour chakli in Gujarat. 

This recipe is made using store bought rice flour and has a couple of flours added for making it crisp and no fail. 

The experts do make it using rice flour alone but adding some chickpea flour and all purpose makes the dough slightly easy to manage. 

So this version has a blend of these three flours with rice flour being used the most. 

What can be added to the flour?

Chakli can have any kind of seeds and spices as desired. Sesame seeds, carom seeds, cumin, green or red chili or a blend of spices from the store. 

I generally add white and black sesame seeds, red chili powder, turmeric powder, green chili paste and some cumin seeds. This is the mix that appeared in the chakli I had most often in India and I make mine with these. 

The greasing agent in the dough is butter, ghee or oil. While butter makes it the richest, adding oil works too. I have used salted butter in this recipe. 


Do you NEED to fry these?

This recipe is for the fried version. However, I have this baked version here that works with the air fryer too. 

For Diwali, I generally make a fried version. It is the time when we enjoy all the snacks in the most authentic way. If you are not making these very often, I would recommend trying the fried version.

Tips to get it right each time

The flour mixture is fairly easy to make. I have measured and mentioned the amount of butter needed but it depends on the flour brand used. 

To simplify it, once you add the ingredients except water, try bringing the dough together in your palm. 

If it comes together without crumbling; it is perfect. If not, add some more molten butter to the dough.

After the dough has rested, it might dry out a little. If that is the case, knead it again with some water and continue with the steps.

Keep the dough and chakli covered at all times. The dough does dry out quickly and results in dry chakli that break up while frying. 

Test the oil temperature before frying the chakli. To do so, drop a small dough ball in the oil. 

If it rises in under 5 seconds, lower the heat and let the oil cool a little. If it rises in 5-10 seconds, start frying the chakli else wait for the oil to heat up a little. 

Looking for more snack recipes? Try these

Steps

In a bowl add all the ingredients except water and oil to fry. 

Knead well till the butter/oil has incorporated in the flours. 

You should be able to bring the dough together in your palm without it crumbling. Else, add some more oil or butter. 

Now add water little by little (I used about 1 cup) and knead a soft and smooth dough. 

Cover and set aside for 30-40 minutes. 

After the dough has rested, grease a chakli press with oil and fit a star tip plate in it. Cut the parchment paper into squares of 4 inches X 4 inches.

Press the dough into the chakli press and pipe out chaklis on the parchment paper.

Continue till you get about 3-4 spirals and then snap the dough. Gently press the end to stick to the remaining chakli. 

You can pipe out 10-15 at a time. Let them rest covered so they do not dry out. 

Heat the oil to medium high in a pan. 

Gently lift the chakli from the paper and add to hot oil. Do not overcrowd the kadhai. 

Fry the chakli till both sides are golden brown and remove on a paper towel. 


Once the oil drains completely and the chakli cools, transfer to an airtight container. 

Store in a cool and dry place. Enjoy with some chai!  



Yield: 20-25 chaklis
Author: Smruti
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Instant Rice Flour Chakli

Instant Rice Flour Chakli

Spiral shaped Indian snack made from rice flour and spices; Chakli is a deep fried treat. It is an addictive tea time snack and a great Diwali recipe. 

Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 35 MinInactive time: 30 MinTotal time: 1 H & 25 M

Ingredients

  • Rice Flour 2 cups
  • Chickpea Flour 1/2 cup
  • All purpose Flour 1/2 cup
  • White sesame seeds 2 tbsp
  • Black sesame seeds 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chili Powder 1 1/2 tsp
  • Green Chili paste 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Salt 1 1/2 tsp
  • Yogurt 2 tbsp
  • Butter 5 tbsp
  • Lukewarm Water  about 1 cup
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a bowl add all the ingredients except water and oil to fry.
  2. Knead well till the butter/oil has incorporated in the flours.
  3. You should be able to bring the dough together in your palm without it crumbling. Else, add some more oil or butter.
  4. Now add water little by little (I used about 1 cup) and knead a soft and smooth dough.
  5. Cover and set aside for 30-40 minutes.
  6. After the dough has rested, grease a chakli press with oil and fit a star tip plate in it. Cut the parchment paper into squares of 4 inches X 4 inches.
  7. Press the dough into the chakli press and pipe out chaklis on the parchment paper.
  8. Continue till you get about 3-4 spirals and then snap the dough. Gently press the end to stick to the remaining chakli.
  9. You can pipe out 10-15 at a time. Let them rest covered so they do not dry out.
  10. Heat the oil to medium high in a pan.
  11. Gently lift the chakli from the paper and add to hot oil. Do not overcrowd the kadhai.
  12. Fry the chakli till both sides are golden brown and remove on a paper towel.
  13. Once the oil drains completely and the chakli cools, transfer to an airtight container.
  14. Store in a cool and dry place. Enjoy with some chai!

Notes:


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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Kaju Paan

Enjoy the flavors of paan in an innovative sweet made from cashew meal. 

A variation of kaju katli; this kaju paan is full of the traditional flavors of Meetha Paan.


What is Kaju Paan?

A fun Indian sweet that has the flavors and shape of paan (betel nut), this one needs a handful of ingredients and is amazing.

Paan has a super refreshing flavor that goes well in all kinds of Indian sweets. I love how it changes the taste of traditional recipes with just a couple of leaves.

This sweet is just like that. The ingredients in this one are similar to Kaju Katli but has the addition of paan and is stuffed with nuts and gulkand (rose jam). 

This one will be a GREAT sweet to make for Diwali, Holi or any party. 

Video Recipe



What do you need to make these paan?

As I mentioned the ingredient list is simple and the method easy. Here is what you need to make this one:

Cashew powder: The heart of the recipe is powdered cashews. This can be made at home using cashews or bought from the store.

If powdering it at home, use raw cashews and not roasted ones. Powder them in a spice and coffee mill like this one. 

Make sure not to run it too long else the cashews tend to ooze oil and become mushy. 

After processing run it through a strainer to remove the big pieces. 

Paan: Betel nut leaves are the ones used here for the flavor. These can be bought from the Indian store or online. 

Purée them with a little water. Ensure the purée is almost smooth. The pieces should not be in the way while rolling it out. 

If paan cannot be found, using some paan syrup might work too. I have not tried that myself but seen people make the sweet using it. 

This adds a dark green color to the sweet. Adding a pinch of green food color helps get a bright vibe. Yet, it is optional and the sweet can be made without the color too. 

Gulkand: Popularly known as rose jam, this is a typical ingredient in paan. I added this along with nuts ad cardamom in the filling. It helps give the sweet an authentic taste. 

The option for the filling is adding some dry paan masala. Many Indian stores sell this in tiny packets. This can be used to fill the paan.

Edible silver varak: A great way to jazz up Indian sweets, this ingredient is commonly used for so many sweets. 

This step is completely optional and does not modify the taste of the sweet. It adds to the beauty of the sweet. 


How to get it right each time

The recipe is fairly easy to make. Make sure the mixture is cooked properly. If the mixture is not cooked completely, it will not set well. It will fall apart in a while. 

To check if the mixture is cooked, take a small part (1/4 tsp) and place it on a plate for a couple of minutes. If it can be broken into two clean pieces, it is done. Else cook it for a couple of minutes more. 

Once cooked, place the mixture on a parchment paper and keep tossing it around. This helps cool the mixture without forming a crust on it. 

Do not roll the mixture out too thin. It will crack up and not hold the filling. I rolled it 1/2 cm thick. 

Place the filled paan on parchment paper. This way they will not stick to each other. 

Store in the refrigerator and consume in 2-3 days.

Looking for more Indian sweet recipes? Try these:

Steps

Purée the paan (betel leaves) with 3 tsp milk. 

In a bowl mix together slivered almonds, cashews, pistachios, cardamom seeds and gulkand. Add some dried rose petals (optional).


In a pan add milk, cashew powder and sugar. 

Mix well and place the pan on the stove.


Keep stirring and cook till the sugar starts to melt and the mixture comes together. 

Add the milk powder, paan purée and a drop of green color (if using).


Mix till the entire mixture is thick and green in color. 


Remove from heat and transfer immediately to a parchment paper. 

Keep folding the paper and cool the mixture till it stops sticking to the paper completely. 


Roll it into a sheet of about 0.5 cm thickness. 

Using a large cutter (about 6 inches diameter) make 3 circles. Using the remaining dough, roll out again and cut the circles. 


Divide each circle into 4 equal parts.

With each part add 1 tbsp of the gulkand and nuts mixture and fold to make a triangle. Stick the edges. 


Roll these in edible silver foil (if using) and serve immediately. The paan can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days. 



Yield: 16 pieces
Author: Smruti
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Kaju Paan

Kaju Paan

Enjoy the flavors of paan in an innovative sweet made from cashew meal. A variation of kaju katli; this kaju paan is full of the traditional flavors of Meetha Paan.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 35 Min

Ingredients

  • Powdered Cashews (cashew meal) 1 cup 
  • Milk 1/4 cup
  • Sugar 1/4 cup
  • Milk powder 1 tbsp
  • Paan leaves 2-3 medium
  • Edible green color a pinch
  • Edible silver foil (varak) optional
For the filling
  • Almonds, cashews and pistachios 5-6 each slivered
  • Cardamom seeds 1/4 tsp
  • Gulkand (rose jam) 1/4 cup

Instructions

  1. Purée the paan (betel leaves) with 3 tsp milk.
  2. In a bowl mix together slivered almonds, cashews, pistachios, cardamom seeds and gulkand. Add some dried rose petals (optional).
  3. In a pan add milk, cashew powder and sugar. Mix well and place the pan on the stove.
  4. Keep stirring and cook till the sugar starts to melt and the mixture comes together.
  5. Add the milk powder, paan purée and a pinch of green color (if using) and mix till the entire mixture is thick and green in color.
  6. Remove from heat and transfer immediately to a parchment paper.
  7. Keep folding the paper and cool the mixture. Once the mixture stops sticking to the paper completely, roll it into a thin sheet of about 0.5 cm thickness.
  8. Using a large cookie cutter make 3 circles. Using the remaining dough, roll out again and cut the circles.
  9. Divide each circle into 4 parts.
  10. With each part add 1 tbsp of the gulkand and nuts mixture and fold to make a triangle.
  11. Roll these in edible silver foil and serve immediately. The paans can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.

Notes:


Did you make this recipe?
Tag @herbivorecucina on instagram and hashtag it #herbivorecucina
Created using The Recipes Generator