CREAMY VEGGIE PASTA
Penne (or any pasta) - 6 to 8 oz [I used half whole wheat pasta]
Onion - 1 medium, sliced thinly and into 1 inch pieces
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves, minced
Spinach - 6 to 8 oz (frozen, chopped)
Tomato - 1/2 chopped
Sun-dried tomatoes - 6 halves, reconstituted in boiling water for 5 mins
Zucchini - 1 medium, sliced into half-moons
Bell Peppers - 1 medium, sliced thin
Carrot - 1, slivered into thin matchsticks or Mushrooms - 8 sliced
Milk - 1/2 cup
Vegetable stock - 1/2 cup
Cream cheese - 3 to 4 oz
Parmesan cheese / Pepper jack cheese - 1/4 cup or more to taste
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
All purpose flour (maida) - 1 tbsp
Red Chilli flakes - 1 tsp
Dried Basil leaves - 1 tsp
Hot Sauce (Sriracha) - to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper - to taste
1) In a big pan, heat up lots of water for the pasta and when it boils season with salt and cook the pasta in it until al-dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta water and drain it.
2) Meanwhile, in a big, deep skillet, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and onions first.. cook till the brown a bit, next add the zucchini, bell peppers, carrots (or mushrooms) and saute till the vegetables are tender.
3) Defrost the spinach and wring it so it gets dry. Break it up with your hands and add to the vegetable mixture, along with chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and red chilli flakes.
4) When the veggies are cooked sufficiently, sprinkle the flour and stir for a few minutes before adding the vegetable stock and milk. This will thicken quite rapidly... Add in the softened cream cheese at this point and season with salt and pepper.
5) Add in the cooked pasta, dried basil and the cheese with some hot sauce (if using). Toss this together until the flavours get combined. Add some of the reserved, starchy pasta water if you feel it's drying out. Topp with more fresh basil if desired. Creamy Pasta with a load of veggies is now ready and all done in one pot!