Monday, 11 April 2016

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad With Sunflower Seeds And Curry Leaf Pesto ~ Hello Summer


Have you tried clasping sunshine in your palms ? I used to do that often as a child. With the onset of the summer months, the commencement of the summer holidays from school, life would be one joyous ride, with a dozen cousins of all sizes, who too would come visiting during their summer holidays. Playing hide and seek in one such hot summer day, I had hidden behind the huge grand old banana tree in our backyard. As the sun peeped through its long ribbed green leaves it created different types of pattern on my legs. Small triangles, circles, squares and a solo hexagon , tiny golden patterns all over my legs and I had forgotten all about the game I was in , too busy in my attempt to clasp these golden shapes of sunshine in my palms. Thinking about that afternoon and how simple and full of innocence the ways of the mind were, never fails to light up a smile on my lips, as radiant as the sunshine, eons away under the banana tree. 


Honestly I would do anything to get back those days where everything was uncomplicated, gathering sunshine patterns were a big deal and the heart never ended with heaviness from any kind of fight, stress or unhappiness as the sun would set and the moon would be up with its silver cool sprinkled heavily over the moor. A few days back, my dear friend Shubha had shared a beautiful thought online whose message resonated deep and clear on my heart long after I had read and re-read it. It said and I quote " Age has taught us much, but what we can't live without is ego, hatred and grudges that prevents us from forgiving and moving ahead. The free spirit exhibited by children is our true nature." Oh ! Wow how true and crystal this message was. I too had somewhere buried the true spirit of the child in me and started to live my life totally on the rules that govern a grown up mind. My free spirit of love and forgiveness had been speckled by ego, grudges and forgiving was not as easy and a simple thing to do as before. Oh dear, this was taking away the warmth of happiness that enveloped my heart as a child and freezing it with the ice of pain and unhappiness. Suddenly it dawned on me that it was in my hand and totally at my disposal to reverse it. I could tune my mind and heart and once again allow the child in me to rule my being. It was time to let my free spirit and childlike demeanour out before it was too late.


The first thing I did to set the ball rolling was to keenly observe little D, especially the time that she was around her friends. I needed an impetus to get me back and revive my free spirit and what better impetus could I have than little D. Her summer holidays have started and as she spends more afternoons playing with her friends, I watch her and her tiny friends, which is surely helping me clear off the thick layer of dust which has gathered on my childlike free spirit in all these years. The rules of the game is very simple in the world of little D and her friends. Yes they do have disagreements, fights, get mad at each other just like we grown ups do, but but but, unlike us they end it then and there. As they finish their days play and head to their individual homes all fights too are left behind where they started, no grudges are taken home to be slept over with and forgiveness is such an instant act. As my adorable princess sleeps , a glow of happiness on her face, I stroke her silk like tresses and can clearly see that she is years away from sacrificing her free spirit, which today envelopes her heart with love, peace and joy as she goes to bed at the end of each day. I pray and wish that no matter what she never lets the child in her get lost, nurtures all the goodness that emanates from her child heart. 

I too am happy learning and reviving my free spirit and the rules of  childhood, which I know in the long run will make things in and around me much more simple and happy. I know there will be misunderstandings, fights, arguments with my friends and loved ones, but I also know that as I will let my free childlike spirit take over, I will reason and see, forgive and move ahead and let love rule supreme. Yes two other things which are helping me are whenever I am about to keep a grudge on a friend, family member or for that matter on any person, I am trying to remember the good things that person has done for me and it is becoming much easier to get my heart and mind clear of any malice. Also I know it is difficult to admit one's mistake, turn around and say sorry, basically reach out to the person, when there is a serious disagreement, but one huge push in that direction will indeed open the gateway to mental peace and loads of happiness. As my Ma says bury the hachet, let bygone be bygone, don't sleep over a fight, reach out, no one is as bad as your mind might make the person out to be and no situation is that unforgiving that you cannot come out of it leaving behind hatred and bitterness and animosity. Think like a child in these situations and let the qualities that you were born with rule supreme and not those qualities which you inculcated as a part of growing up influence you in such situations which leave you stressed. Okay done, I have made a promise to myself, that I will revive the child in me to the fullest and also kindle my free childlike spirit and let it soar high and mighty.


As the summer days have set in, the temperatures soaring, the tummy craves for light yet fulfilling meals. Food that will not weigh down your gut, be full of fresh flavours, cool your tummy too as you finish your portion and not leave you hungry. I have resorted to many a lunch where I make a salad, which is a meal in itself. I would like to share with you one such salad which I made yesterday and trust me, it left my tummy satiated, my tastes buds a happy bunch and my family with a request for a repeat of this salad again in the week. It's a simple Pasta Salad with grilled vegetables. But the hero of this dish is the Sunflower Seeds and Curry Leaves Pesto, which just makes this salad packed with a powerhouse of flavour, taste and goodness. It is a meal in itself and can be had both hot and cold. You can toss in the veggies of your choice, add nuts, seeds and make it as healthy and nutritious as possible, in other words, tailor-made to your choice and liking. 

This is also the time of the month when the Culinary Hoppers, get together, cook up scrumptious fare and blog hop thereafter. So I am sure just like me you too are truly eager to checkout, what different types of yummy salads they have brought to this Blog Hop. So, please do not forget to come back and check the links which will take you directly to all their delicious salads, right at the end of this page. So let's start this refreshing journey with my Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad With Sunflower Seeds And Curry Leaf Pesto.

GRILLED VEGETABLE PASTA WITH SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND CURRY LEAF PESTO ~

SERVES ~ 4
CUISINE ~ FUSION 
TYPE ~ SALAD
TIME ~ 10 MINUTES PREPARATION + 15 MINUTES COOKING

INGREDIENTS ~


FOR THE GRILLED VEGETABLES ~

1) 1 Tsp Oil
2) 1 Large Yellow Zucchini ( Should yield 8 Tbsp of cubed zucchini)
3) 16 Asparagus
4) 2 Red Bell Peppers ( Should yield 8 Tbsp of cubed Bell peppers )
5) 20 Grape Tomatoes 
6) Salt to taste

FOR COOKING THE PASTA ~

1) 400 Gms. Penné Pasta
2) 1 Tbsp Oil 
3) 1 Tbsp Salt
4) 800 ml Water 

FOR DRESSING UP THE PASTA SALAD ~

1) 4~6 Sprigs Fresh Basil Leaves
2) 5~6 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds And Curry Leaf Pesto
3) 100 ~ 150 Gms Cheese of Choice ( optional )
4) 2 Tbsp Raw Sunflower Seeds
5) 1 Tbsp Exra Virgin Oilve Oil
6) 1 Tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
7) Salt to taste

MAKE THE PASTA SALAD WITH ME IN EASY STEPS: 


COOKING THE PASTA ~


1) Boil 800 ml water in a large pan. Add 1 Tbsp oil and 1Tbsp Salt to it.

  • When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta Completely. ( NOTE ~ As this is a pasta salad we don't therefore cook the Pasta Al Dente. )
  • Drain the water out and spread the pasta on a tray or large plate.

GRILLING THE VEGGIES ~

2) Cut the Zucchini and Bell Peppers in large slices. Cut the grape tomatoes into two halves each.

  • Heat the grill pan. Coat the grill pan with 1 Tsp Oil. When the Grill Pan is smoking hot, place the vegetables on it. 
  • Grill the vegetables nicely turning them to get the perfect char grill on both sides.
  • Remove the vegetables from the grill pan and after they cool a bit, slice the zucchini and bell pepper slices into cubes.
DRESSING UP THE SALAD ~

3) In a serving bowl lay out the cooked Penné pasta. Add the sunflower seeds and curry leaf pesto and using a spoon coat each of the penne pasta with the pesto.

  • Add the grilled veggies, basil leaves, cheese.
  • Season was th salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle extra virgin Olive oil on top.
 
Your summer salad painted white th colours, rich in flavours is ready to serve. You may even add chopped red onions to this salad and serve. There are a lot of variations possible with this salad. Use elbow macaroni, fusilli or farfella pasta, choose vegetables you are fond of, replace the pesto dressing with tangy~lemony or creamy~cheesy dressings, use fresh oregano instead of basil. The possibilities of this Salad is as endless as your imagination. The only thing that remains constant is its tasty and refreshing taste that it leaves on your tongue. So usher in the summer with this radiant summery delight, light and flavoursome.


SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND CURRY LEAF PESTO RECIPE ~


YIELDS ~ 6~8 TBSP PESTO
TIME ~ 10 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS ~

1) 1 Cup Raw Shelled Sunflower Seeds
2) 2 Garlic Cloves
3) 1 Cup Packed Curry Leaves
4) 1 Tsp Honey
5) 1 Tsp Lemon Zest
6) 1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Luice
7) 1 Tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
8) 2 ~3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
9) Salt to taste
10) 1~2 Green Chillies ( optional )
11) 3~4 Parmesan Cheese , grated ( Optional )

LET'S MAKE THE PESTO ~ 

  • Place all the ingredients in a grinder or blender. Add extra virgin olive oil.
  • Blitz or grind the ingredients into a smooth, creamy paste. Do not add water while blending/ grinding. Use more oil if required to grind to a paste with silky smooth consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl. ( NOTE ~ The texture of the pesto should be thick and smooth. It should slide smoothly off your spoon when you tilt your spoon slightly with a spoonful of pesto. )
Healthy, green, Sunflower and Curry Leaf Pesto is ready.