Have you ever been inspired to make a dish just because a vegetable looked beautiful while you are browsing through the isles at the grocery store? Happens a lot right.. This is one of those dishes. I make pasta every now and then, but this time it is these little cherry tomatoes that inspired me. Look how cute they look, though my photo is not of good quality. Fresh ingredients inspire my cooking, a lot.
I never liked the pasta with red sauce. Also when I used to do pasta without any vegetables, I feel like it is just useless calories and carbs going into me. Today I came up with this pasta which has all asian inspired ingredients and atleast one green vegetable. I know there are pasta recipes with asparagus, but asparagus is still foreign to me. So I tried mine with snow peas.The ingredients list may seem long, but trust me, its easy and its worth it.
1. 1.5 cups of pasta (I use penne, you can use any kind)
2. Some cherry tomatoes - I had about 14
3. 2 tomatoes
4. Half of a medium size red onion
5. 3-4 green chillis
6. 10 garlic
7. 1 cup of cilantro
8. 1 cup of snow peas
9. 1/2 cup of basil - optional, but it is really good if you can find it
10. 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning - available in the grocery isles in dried form where you find spices like oregana, thyme etc.
11. 1/4 cup of Olive oil or peanut oil
12. 1 tbsp of sesame seeds
13. 1/2 cup of peanuts
14. 1-2 tbsp of crushed red pepper
15. 1.5 tbsp of peanut butter
Boil water in a wide pot. Sprinkle some salt and add a spoon of oil to it. When the water starts to boil, add the pasta. Cook it until tender. Drain and wash with cold water and keep aside.
Now slice the cherry tomatoes into halves, sprinkle some salt and pepper on the cut side. Place them in a pan covered with a bit of oil, sprinkle some italian seasoning lightly and cook them covered for a few minutes in low heat. We are not trying to cook them all the way through. You can lift each one separately using thongs and keep them aside.
Also roast or fry in little oil the sesame seeds and peanuts. Keep them aside.
Dice red onion, slice garlic and chop green chillis and add them to heated olive oil and fry them until the onion is tender. Add diced tomatoes to this and cook uncovered until all the tomato water is all dried up. Now add the snow peas and cook covered for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. You can actually cook this as little or as much as you want depending upon whether you want your snow peas nice and crunchy or well cooked and soft. Add finely chopped fresh cilantro, chopped basil and italian seasoning. Stir in peanut butter. Cook uncovered for 2 more minutes. Add the cooked pasta to this and mix well without breaking the pasta. Finally season with the roasted sesame seeds and peanuts and once you are ready to serve, arrange the cherry tomatoes on the top. Crushed red pepper can be set at the table so that people can add it according to their taste.
Notes: Adding crushed red chilli flakes at the table helps keep the spice mild in the rest of the portion so that kids can eat easily. For kids, I also add some grated cheese on top while it is still hot.