One of the most well-traveled and well-known dishes is definitely pasta. Its versatility and simplicity has made it popular in almost all countries. Pizzas and pastas have become something that you know you can always depend on. They can be modified to your taste and are always fresh. I love how pasta is interpreted in so many ways. Every city I go to, it has a different taste. In the US, pasta is a rich, creamy dish that is almost like a staple in every household. The pasta is usually cooked al-dente and the sauces have beautiful flavors coming through it. In the UK, the flavors are lighter and I often feel the need to add a dash of pepper on the table and as most Indians need, the spice element. In India, depending on the city and the restaurant, you have so much variety. In the Little Italy chain of restaurants across India, you have somewhat authentic pasta. After trying some other Italian restaurants, I have come to realize that the food served in their restaurants definitely have a strong Indian influence. Dario’s in Pune makes more authentic Italian food with fresh ingredients. It has definitely become my favorite place if I am ever craving some nice pasta! I may have been to the wrong restaurant but in Ahmedabad, India, their understanding of pasta is a dish filled with cheese. Honestly, not my favorite kind of meal!
Making a white cheese sauce was one of the first recipes I ever adapted and learnt. I used to make a giant mess while making a white sauce from flour and butter and milk. It would always be lumpy or burnt. What trick I did learn later was to take the melted butter and flour mixture off the heat and gradually add milk. I started whisking the milk in instead of trying to mix it in with a wooden spoon. I also learnt that if it does lump up, take a hand beater to it or put it in a blender, after its cooled, to get rid of the lumps.
This white-cheese sauce is a take on a traditional Alfredo sauce, though it is not at all technically like an Alfredo sauce. I am confident this sauce has a lower fat content but probably the same calories as an Alfredo. This sauce requires 2 separate pans for the two sauces.
Sauce 1: The basic white sauce
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 – 1.5 cups milk
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the butter or oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the whole-wheat flour and stir constantly using a wooden spoon for about 1 minute.
- Once the flour has browned slightly, take the pan off the heat and pour 1 cup of the milk in. Whisk briskly to make sure there are no lumps. If the mixture seems to thick, slowly add the rest of the milk, while whisking constantly.
- Return the mixture to the heat. Allow it to boil for 3-4 minutes while stirring constantly.
- Add the crushed garlic, salt and pepper and reduce the flame to low. Allow it to cook for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Sauce 2: Cheese-Herb Sauce
- 4 tablespoons plain cheese spread
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried chilly flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon pepper powder
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup of milk
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on a medium flame. Add all the dried herbs and pepper and allow the oil to become flavorsome for just under a minute.
- Reduce the flame to low. Add the cheese spread and allow it to melt. Be sure to constantly stir it and mix all the herbs in the cheese.
- Once the cheese has melted, add all the milk and stir. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Once the 2nd mixture is ready, add the white sauce mix to the cheese-herb sauce and mix well.
- Allow the mixture to come to a boil.
Your quick sauce is ready! Toss your favorite pasta in this mix!
I spice it up by adding some tobacco or peri-peri sauce once it’s cooked. Alternately, substitute the ½ cup of milk in the cheese-herb sauce with ½ cup of white wine to give a different flavor. Feel free to add more herbs or change the herbs based on your taste!
- Add some corn to this mixture and allow it to thicken a little more and fill in canapés.
- Use only the cheese-herb sauce and throw in some finely chopped button mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to sweat and then for the mixture to thicken. Once thick, spread over toast and you have mushrooms on toast ready!
- I use the cheese-herb sauce in risotto recipes as well.