I am sure that everyone has memories of a dish you have eaten somewhere and the taste stays with you and you have always wanted to eat that again. I have several of those. Along with those memories I also remember having to face Ma who could have easily been a foods and nutrition police officer( had that profession existed). She used to be so strict about eating healthy and that meant no processed food, or gravies made with khoya or cream, maggi noodles (yes! since it has palm oil and made with white flour) or rasna (artificial flavors). The list is long and although I used to feel deprived at times, I am glad now that she did what she did. I am not as stringent as her but it has made me very conscious of what I eat or feed other people and I am definitely grateful for that. I always check labels before I buy foods and try to avoid refined flour or saturated fat from out diets. But occasional binging is okay for me. I love food so much that it would become difficult for me to stay away from trying something that looks tempting. I believe the key is portion control and I try to do that if I feel tempted to eat something that I know is not good for my health.
So that brings me to today's dish. This is one of those dishes that I had eaten once long time ago (in India) and had loved it so much that I kept dreaming of it. It has cheese, butter, refined flour, spaghetti (more refined flour and fat), pineapple, salt, sugar. Nothing in the list could have ever been approved by our health and nutrition officer at home!! With all the grease and salt and refined flour!! I had to forget about it! But I could not and it has taken me more than 15 years to try to recreate it. So I did.
The recipe is from what I remember of the tastes and I still cannot get away with the guilt factor so I added some vegetables to give it health benefits. It turned out quite nice even with the addition of the healhty stuff. And Ma you should try this I think you will like it!
2 cups cooked pasta (any kind, I used shells but spaghetti tastes good too)
1/2 cup shelled edamame beans
1/2 cup mixed carrots and peas (frozen)
1 cup cubed pineapple
1/2 cup or more grated cheese ( I used amul cheese but cheddar or gruyere would be good too)
For the white sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups milk (warm)
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
11/2 tsp sugar
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions then take the vegetables (edamame, carrots and peas) and mix it with the pasta.Keep this aside and prepare the white sauce. Take a pan and melt the 2 tbsp butter in it. Add the flour and stir continuously till the flour is well coated with butter and starts to turn light golden and the raw smell goes. Now take the pan off heat and add a little milk and whisk it to make a paste. Put it back on heat and gradually add the milk stirring all the time so that no lumps are formed. Add the salt, pepper and sugar. Continue to cook till the mixture starts boiling and becomes thick. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup cheese in it and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Pour the sauce over the pasta and vegetables and mix well. Top the pasta with the remained cheese. Put it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes.