Pizzas and pastas might be the most popular Italian dishes but there is a lot more to know of the Italian cuisine. This cuisine is always showcased as simple but is very stylish. I got the opportunity to learn in depth about the in-house pasta made from scratch during my training days. The chef would create the pasta dough making it look very easy, with a resilient texture and versatile form, shaping them into any type of pasta like the tagliatelle, garganelli, cappelletti, etc. Every day it was my job to collect the buffet menu from the kitchen, create tags for them and monitoring the dining area with the hospitality standards along by maintaining the guest reservations. I would try to take out some time to dive into more details on food preparations from the kitchen staff. Italian cuisine soon struck an instant chord with me as the chef would combine simple ingredients such as olive oil, chili flakes, pepper to create a culinary magic at the live counter while I enthusiastically acquired some knowledge.
Making pasta is incredibly straight forward, but I am still sometimes lazy to make pasta by hand when I see the fancy store packed dry pastas. I would continue to buy them still dreaming of being a sfoglina (traditional pasta maker).I enjoy making pasta from scratch, roaring about in my house with an ability to make something that one thinks about only buying from shops. I would also stick to saying “fresh pasta is better than dried” and I can speak volumes on its taste. Like the homemade ravioli is the tastiest and easiest to even a novice in the kitchen trying to make tasty meal at home even if it is deviating from the classic recipe. But the main vehicle for the pasta is its sauce and the proper pairing of the sauce with pasta highlights the dish. Over thinking on pasta is not a good idea right now as I am in a flurry of excitement to share about this pink pasta sauce with macaroni festooned in my kitchen.
The sauce is made of butter, milk and flour seasoned with garlic and nutmeg. This is the same recipe of white sauce that was put up on my previous post of Easy potato bake. The star ingredient of this recipe that makes the sauce pretty pink is the cooked beetroot that adds up to the base making it homey and comforting. The French term to the white sauce is Béchamel, one of the five mother sauces, that is so versatile and essential, is very easy to master. I would request you to read the recipe carefully and follow all the steps to achieve the perfect sauce to the pasta. Serve this pasta with good home baked bread making it a perfect round up for a day that is restaurant style, good and instant.
For the sauce
- Beetroot Boiled- 1 no.
- Red onion chopped – I no. ( small sized)
- Cheese slices or grated – 4 slices or 80 grams approx.
- Garlic cloves- 4-5 nos
- All purpose refined flour- 2 tablespoons
- Butter- 20 grams(approx) 0r 2 tablespoons
- Olive oil – 1 tablespoon (optional)
- Milk – 500 ml
- Nutmeg- a pinch grated
- Sugar – 1 teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
For the Pasta
- Pasta (macaroni) – 2 cups
- Water- 4 cups
- Salt – half teaspoon
- Refined oil- 1 tablespoon.
- In a pan, add water for the pasta and allow it to boil. Add salt and oil to the water; further add the pasta continuing to boil on a medium heat for 12- 14 minutes approximately or till soft (refer to the package cooking instructions on your store bought pasta to check for correct cooking time)
- Drain the pasta using a colander and rinse with some cold water. Pour little oil, mix to avoid the pasta from sticking to each other. Keep aside.
- Take a pan and sauté the chopped red onions with olive oil.
- Peel and chop the boiled beetroot. Add them to the onions and continue to sauté till they are slightly wilted. Add the cooked pasta to it, mix well and keep aside.
- To make the sauce take good heavy bottom pan over a low flame. Add two tablespoons of flour and lightly toast it.
- Add butter and allow it to melt while continuously stirring to make a roux. Toss the garlic in the butter and flour mix till the garlic turns lightly golden.
- Stir well as the flour and butter mix with garlic will turn fluffy, bubbly and aromatic.
- Now slowly and gradually add cold milk to the roux (the flour butter mix), stirring it continuously.
- Keep stirring for 2- 3 minutes till it becomes slightly thick and creamy. Do not overcook as it will thicken more once you add the pasta.
- Finally season the sauce with salt, pepper and sugar. Add freshly grated nutmeg to the sauce.
- Now add the tossed beetroot and pasta to the sauce and mix until well combined.
- At this stage arrange the cheese slices on top and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes on low- medium flame covering the pan with a lid, or till the cheese melts.
- Mix the pasta and transfer onto a serving bowl and serve hot.
Note while you cook:-
- To check the doneness of pasta, cut it with a knife and it will easily cut through. This assures the pasta is perfectly done.
- Use a pot that is big enough for boiling the pasta. Adding oil to the pot of boiling pasta avoids overflowing of bubbling water preventing a mess.
- While making the sauce, toasting the flour before, cooks out the raw taste of the flour.
- Roux- It is flour and butter or any fat cooked together and it is the base to thicken the sauce. It is very important to cook the roux well before adding the milk.
- Refer the notes to know more on process to cook the beetroot on my previous recipe post. Click here.
- Adding cold milk to the roux will prevent forming lumps in the sauce.
- Always cook and prepare the sauce on low flame stirring continuously. Do not increase the flame to more the low- medium.
- Do not increase the sugar mentioned and it is added to balance the seasonings.
- You can add little olive oil with butter to prepare the roux.
- Do not overcook the sauce to more than the mentioned time as after adding pasta it will thicken more and will not remain saucy.
- Instead of simmering on a low flame, you can further finish the pasta under an overhead grill or broiler to melt the cheese. Make sure you transfer it to an oven proof pan before this step. This is totally optional and depends on your choice.
- You can also use penne, rigatoni, fusilli or farfalle in place of macaroni elbow pasta.
- Like the sauce for easy potato bake, there is no need to add cream and this will be served as a main dish while the easy potato bake is a side recipe for the main course. Cream will make the sauce heavier.
- I added cheese slices as they melt fast and is very creamier than the regular processed cheese.