Shell Pasta in Creamy White Sauce with Vegetables

My mother is my goddess. Not just because she's my mom. (Heh.) No really, how she manages to do everything from the morning to night. Even without my Dad and me helping. I want to inherit just three things from her: her memory, her ability to organize and her ability to maintain our sweet tiny family. She might scold us a bit, might get freaked out once in a while. But she's my beautiful cuddly amazing Ma. Ma, this is for you. I love you so much!

Speaking of love, I love and adore pasta. The shapes, the colours. The forms. Heck I know it's pretty much all the same. But why does a very basic canteen-wala macaroni taste better than spaghetti to me? No answers to that. And the sauces! Tomato, meat, browned butter, olive oil and garlic, cheese, cream and what not. You can top it with anything. Exotic vegetables like asparagus, to the homegrown capsicum even. Put chicken or bacon or not. Make it super high calorie or not. It's all upto you.

Ma makes lunch for me every day. The tastiest sambar rice with fresh papad, the fluffiest mishti-bhaat (sweet rice, like a pulao with nuts, raisins, carrots and beans), the most decadent and silky Shahi Paneer, meltingly soft cubes of paneer in a white nutty creamy sauce. One day, I decided to help Ma out, by making for myself this Conchiglie in Cream Sauce with lots of vegetables.

Conchiglie in Cream Sauce (1 serving)

You need:
  • Conchiglie or shell pasta: As much as you'll eat. You can use any pasta for this. Just make sure it can hold the sauce. Like a macaroni, fusilli, rigatoni, ziti, penne, etc.
  • Butter or olive oil: About 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp
  • Garlic: a few cloves, smashed. As garlicky as you want.
  • Onion: 1, diced. I like my onions juicy, sweet and transparent so I dice it.
  • Any vegetables. Mushrooms, capsicum, corn, sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, anything.
  • Cheese: About one cube.
  • Milk: A little less than a cup. You can use cream a bit, but that's just increasing calories.
  • Maida: a teeny bit.
  • Oregano and chilli flakes.
  • Salt and pepper: to taste
The How:
  • Boil the pasta. Add salt to the water.
  • When done, drain into a colander, toss immediately with a tiny bit if olive oil. Else you'll have a chunk of pasta cake to eat.
  • Blanch any of the vegetables that require it. Keep aside.
  • In a pan, add the butter/ olive oil. Fry the garlic till it is about to turn brown. If it turns brown and further, chuck that and make a fresh batch.
  • Fry the onions till it becomes glossy and translucent.
  • Now add the maida, sprinkle it in. Stir constantly to mix it in. It might form browned bits otherwise. The idea is to incorporate it with the butter.
  • Add the milk in one go. Keep stirring to avoid lumps, till it bubbles.
  • Add the vegetables. Add salt, pepper, oregano and chilli flakes. My oregano and chilli comes from the pizza delivery sachets. You may add fried garlic bits too, as I do, because I'm in love with garlic.
  • Tip in the pasta and mix well so that it's completely coated in the sauce.
  • You might at this point add some white wine to it.
  • Finally, grate an entire cube of cheese into it. Not block, those small Amul or Britannia cheese cubes.
  • Mix and cover for a while.
  • Trust me, you're actually done.
That's actually it. For a meal, enjoy with a good thick slice of crusty bread rubbed with a little garlic. Before eating, heat it well through and through, if you're taking it for lunch. I'm guessing it's a good way to get vegetables into children's meal times also.

So there you have it. Conchiglie pasta in Creamy White Sauce with Vegetables. It's good, fast, easy and pretty cheap.

'Til the next time!