Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Holiday Adventure and a Pasta Dish

As I mentioned in my tag awards post, Napa Valley is a favorite vacation destination in my family. We always get to see the best vista points,  also the scenery and landscape are always breathtaking...especially during the grape harvest season, the Valley is beautiful not only because of the grapes hanging from the vines but also from the sour-sweet smell of grapes in the we always have the best food at the restaurants in downtown Napa and Sonoma.

On one such trip, a few years back we also had a funny misadventure, when we traveled to Napa with some friends... we were so busy looking at the landscape in the beautiful wineries that we were late for the time we reached downtown Napa it was almost beyond lunchtime and most of the restaurants were way too full and until we found one where there was no wait, we had to handle the fun experience of three kids with their constant "are we there yet"?

The lunch, that followed was definitely one of the best we had in Napa(probably, also because of the long drive to get there) and here is the recipe for one of the pasta dishes that we enjoyed that afternoon, which I have recreated many times, based on memory after that day, at home.

The thing that is different about this pasta is, for one, that it has a crunchy garnish from some fried sage and basil leaves on top of the penne pasta dish with ricotta and bell peppers. For my version, I just tend to saute some sage and basil leaves and garnish the pasta with it...makes for a very nice finish...Hope you enjoy it as much as we did that afternoon!

This dish goes to the Pasta Party Event hosted by Jyoti of Panch Pakwan and Jagruti's event, Joyful eating whilst traveling.

Recipe for Penne Pasta with Ricotta and Bell Peppers:
Serves: 5 or 6
Prep/cook time: 30-35 mins.
1lb.penne pasta (I used whole wheat penne and some spaghetti as well)
1tsp butter
3 to 4 cloves garlic cut finely
1tbsp red pepper flakes
2 or 3 bell peppers - cut finely(I used red and green variety)
1 cup skimmed milk ricotta or low-fat ricotta cheese crumbled finely

For topping the pasta:
3 to 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
sage and/or basil - few leaves sauted in a little butter or light olive oil
breadcrumbs or toasted croutons - 2tbsp

For seasoning
1 tbsp. light olive oil
Salt, black pepper to taste

1. Start large pot of water to boil for cooking pasta. When water starts to boil, add a little salt(to season pasta) and then add the pasta itself. Let cook for 6 to 7 minutes (whole wheat pasta takes a minute or two longer than the regular pasta to cook). Take off stove and drain pasta when almost done(but not fully cooked - pasta needs to be baked finally)

2. In a pan, add the olive oil, cut/crushed garlic and red pepper flakes(and any additional salt) and saute for a minute or two. Add the vegs. before the garlic starts turning brown.  Let cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Then, add the half-cooked pasta to it, alongwith the ricotta cheese. Set aside. Now, set oven to pre-heat at 350degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Once the sauce and the pasta-veg mixture is ready, grease a baking pan with light cooking spray(or butter, if you wish)

4. Now, add the pasta-veg. mixture then, add all the seasonings and toppings over the pasta.

5.Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and bake for 15 - 20 mins(at 350F), until the top turns golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature with garlic bread or soup or side of vegs.


  1. Enjoyed reading ur trip Meena, tempting pasta dish..

  2. Hey Meena, love to read about your experiences during your trip!! lovely and delicious pasta hubby is with me right now and he is looking at your pasta guess what he will ask for today's lunch!!

  3. Nice creamy pasta, perfect for the events..

  4. Enjoyed reading about your lovely trip Meena, and thats a lovely and delicious pasta!

  5. Dear Meena, Great writing..I could visualize the whole thing..Pasta sounds too good:-)

  6. Good write up dear and thoroughly enjoyable with the yummy pasta.

  7. Pasta looks awesome. I always wanted to visit Napa when we lived in CA. Never had a chance.

  8. enjoyed reading about your trip... delicious pasta...

  9. wow very tempting pasta...yummy one, nice preparation...loved reading abt ur trip experience

  10. Pasta looks so rich and delicious!

  11. Thank you for all the lovely comments on the pasta...yes, we really enjoy our trips to Napa!!!

  12. Thanks Meena, the pasta looks yumm!! I feel like going to Napa now :)

  13. Wow Napa valley..never been there, Of course this will be one of our must visits in our next trip to SFO :-)
    delicious Pasta, Meena :-)

  14. I want to visit Napa Valley too :).

  15. Napa is such a gorgeous place to visit. The pasta dish looks delicious and I love your "healthfully decadent" concept too. Thanks for stopping by my blog to visit. ;-)



  16. Hey,
    I love that pasta dish and the napa valley shot. This isn't my first time here but did stumble here quite recently. I love the poem your daughter wrote. She certainly has talent for someone that young! You have an award at my blog in my latest post. Will you pick it up, post and brag about it? :)

  17. Hi,first time here.Thanks for visiting my space n for your lovely comments.You have got a nice collection of recipes with interesting blurbs.Pasta is so pleasing to the eyes n very tempting.Following you.

  18. Thanx for visiting my blog..pasta with bell pepper sounds yumm...

  19. Thx for stopping by kothiyavunu and lending me ur lovely space..u too have great yummy recipes..:)
    pasta looks perfect and tempting..nice napa valley pics!!

  20. that's a very different pasta dish. looks and sounds yummy!

  21. Hi there, San, Cool Lassie, Vrinda, Mahimaa, Sarah, Deb!!! Welcome to my space!!


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