Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lunch Box Special - Mini Pasta in Almond Butter sauce

Many a times, mealtimes are dictated by our kids' palette.
Be honest, now ....who wants to cook two separate dishes ,
one for the adults in the family and one for the kids , every day ?
We might do it once in a while, to please the children or to pamper our own taste buds..
But on a regular basis, at least in my house, food that appears on the table is something that everybody in the family can enjoy.
One weekend, my son wanted to have pasta...As I put the mini pasta shells into the boiling water, I realized that I did not have the ubiquitous pasta sauce , neither did I have the patience to cook the sauce from scratch.
I did not want to make an alfredo / cheese sauce either...So whats a mom to do ?
I started adding things to the pan randomly ..a little bit of this and a little bit of that :)
Surprisingly enough , the end result was a quick, healthy dish that both my son and I enjoyed .This is good as a snack or can be paired with some bread or salad for a light meal.I have used nut butters (peanut / almond) to make the sauce ..Along with lots of vegetables.

Nut butters are a good source of protein and there is a lot of variety available in the markets for you to try and choose your favourite. Obviously, if you or anybody in your family avoids nuts due to allergies, then this recipe is not for you. This is especially important to ascertain if you are planning to serve this to people outside your family.

Nut butters are very versatile and its time to use them in something other than the plain old (but still delicious PB & J sandwiches )
Although, I have only ever served this dish hot, it might be worthwhile to check how this behaves when packed in a lunch box.


2 C - Mini Pasta in any shape of your choice (penne, spirals ) 
( I used the mini ones because they are fun to eat :) ..but you could use the bigger ones too )
1/4 C nut butter (your choice - peanut butter and almond butter work really well )
1 tsp oil (olive or canola)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili sauce / hot sauce (you can completely omit this if you want a less spicier dish)
1/4 tsp black pepper.
1/2 C mixed chopped vegetables (bell peppers , carrots , beans )
2 Tbs chopped coriander or parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 C of milk / cream / water (if required)


Boil a sufficient quantity of water with salt and cook the pasta according to directions.
While the pasta cooks, saute the vegetables in a tsp of oil. If you like, you can add sliced ginger or chopped garlic.
This will add a nice depth to the flavour, but you can certainly omit it.
Once the vegetables are tender, but still a little crunchy, add the nut butter, soy sauce , hot sauce and black pepper.Sprinkle a little salt . Mix well, until the sauce comes together.
Add a splash of milk / cream / water if the sauce is too thick.
Adjust any seasonings , if required.
Drain the pasta and add directly to the sauce and mix until well coated.
Heat through, add the lemon juice and sprinkle with coriander and mix well.

Serve Hot !

Note: If you plan to serve this as part of a lunch box, run the drained pasta
through cold water to stop it from cooking any further. Also make sure the sauce has enough liquid for the pasta to absorb,
otherwise it might end up too dry.

I thought this was a nice change to the usual marinara / alfredo sauce and with a serving of vegetables and protein, its a dish that I wouldnt mind giving my son. Even better if the pasta is whole grain !

- Chhaya


  1. Don't know how I missed this post :( Read it today and loved the new dish --- very similar to noodles I make. On cooking two separate dishes - I am one of those unlucky people Chhaya. DH is very particular about rice and curry. Yesterday I made pizza at home for me and kids; Rice and gojju for DH - double the work, double the clean but worth every slice :)

  2. @Preeti - It can get a bit tricky when that happens! especially when kids dont want to have traditional Indian meals and hubbies dont want to eat any other kind of food !