Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pasta Nests with Onions and Mushrooms

Pasta Nests with Onions
and Mushrooms

A while ago my dear friend Hindy excitedly called me with news of a fabulous (her words) new gadget.  Knowing my love of a good gadget, she was sure I would fall madly in love with this one!  I eagerly asked her what it was and impatiently waited for her reply.  “A fantastic chopper”, she said.  “Really?”, I said.  She continued to extol the virtues of this chopper, how amazingly it chopped vegetables, and how fast it was.  “Really?”, I said (sort of skeptically).  For the next 10 minutes she proceeded to try to convince me how great the chopper tool was.  I, in return, tried to convince her that a sharp knife was really an amazing tool, and that an actual chopper tool wasn’t a necessary part of a kitchen where the person chopping had any sort of knife skills at all (ouch!).  Please understand that Hindy is one of my all time dear friends and took this in the way that it was intended – and was very persistent in her persuasion!  She convinced me that I had to actually come over to her house to see the chopper tool in action making the laborious Israeli Salad!  What was the worst thing that could happen, I thought.  I go over to Hindy’s, see her (silly) chopper tool, have some tea, schmooze and call it a day. 

The Hindy Chopper!  Hindy
says: "Don't loose the little
white cleaning tool!"
This is one time when I literally ate my words!!  The chopper tool is amazing.  It really meets all my criteria for a great gadget/tool.  It chops vegetables incredibly fast – really…it’s incredible!  The pieces are also evenly chopped, which on a good day is a challenge even for someone with pretty good knife skills.  It also has handy measuring lines on the side of the tool so you know exactly how much you’ve chopped – which is great for when a recipe calls for 2 cups of chopped onions!  Finally, it comes with two different chopping blades so you can do a medium or a fine dice with only one tool!

I have since spent a LOT of time apologizing to Hindy for my skepticism, and for being just a little harsh in my comments about her awesome chopping tool.  Being such a good friend I think she forgave me a long time ago...but as a kaparah (atonement) for my sins, every time I use the tool I give her credit for telling me about it.  SO, from now on, I will heretofore refer to the chopper tool as the Hindy Chopper.  Thanks Hindy!

We are all looking for cool and unusual side dishes for Shabbat so we don’t have to hear “potato kugel…again?!” from our families.  (Although, I make potato kugel so infrequently now that everyone is actually kind of excited when I do make it…but that’s another story).  I came across these cool noodles in the store…“Fideo Angel Pasta”.  They look like little round uncooked pasta nests.  Cute.  I found a bunch of recipes using them and came up with a fun recipe that doesn’t take too much prep time and bakes in the oven.  To make the pasta, first you brown it margarine or oil, then you put it in the casserole.  Browning the pasta gives it a great flavor and keeps it from falling apart and being mushy while cooking in the oven.  The next best part of the recipe is that we get to use the Hindy Chopper!!  Hooray!!  You use the fine dice blade of the tool to chop a large onion, and then use the same to evenly dice mushrooms.  It’s so pretty – you have all the vegetables exactly the same size, all sitting like little birds in the pasta nests.  I also like the fact that this recipe has healthy brown rice in it which is disguised by all the other delicious ingredients.  We tried to come up with a clever name for this recipe.  My son suggested “Stuffed Hair Balls”, I thanked him and passed.  My husband came up with “Franny B. Kranny There’s a Bird in Your Hair* Pasta”…thanks, but pass again.  My creativity has failed me - so the name of the recipe is Pasta Nests with Onions and Mushrooms.  If you can think of a better name let me know and I’ll change it!!  In the meantime, have fun chopping all the vegetables with your Hindy Chopper…and if you don’t have one you can still make this dish the old fashioned way – chopping the vegetables with a knife!!

2          medium            sweet onions (or 1 large)
16        ounces              Fideo Angel Pasta
2          cups                 brown rice1
16        ounces              white mushrooms
6          tablespoons      canola oil, divided
14        ounce can         beef broth2
32        ounces              vegetable stock
1          teaspoons         salt3 (optional)
                                    vegetable cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Using the fine dice blade, chop the onions with the Hindy Chopper4.  You should have between 1 ½ and 2 cups of finely diced onions.  Set aside.  Using the same fine dice blade, chop the mushrooms.  Set aside.

Spray a 9”x13” casserole dish with non-stick vegetable spray.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add onions to the oil and sauté until golden brown and slightly caramelized.  Add mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown.  Remove vegetables from the skillet and set aside in a medium bowl. 

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil to the hot skillet on medium heat.  Arrange the pasta nests top side down in the pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the pasta starts to brown.  Be careful not to burn the pasta.  Flip the nests over and brown the second side.  Remove pan from heat, and place the browned nests evenly distributed in the prepared casserole.  Evenly pour the uncooked brown rice around the nests in the casserole dish.  Spoon the sautéd mushrooms and onions over the center of the nests.  Carefully pour the beef broth and vegetable broth over the rice.  Cover the casserole and bake for 60 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Enjoy!

  1. I like to use Uncle Ben’s brown rice.  The package I used was a 14 ounce package which was slightly more than 2 cups.  I ended up just putting the remainder in the casserole and it turned out fine.
  2. You can adjust the amount of beef broth and vegetable stock according to your personal preference, using more beef broth and less vegetable stock.  I use both of the broths to give the dish a delicious and more complex flavor.
  3. Depending upon the type of broth you use in this dish you may choose to add additional salt to the recipe.  I usually don’t add the salt but you could start with an additional teaspoon and add more if you prefer.
  4. If you don’t have a Hindy Chopper you can just dice the vegetables to a fine dice using an old fashioned sharp knife and cutting board.
*"Franny B. Kranny There's a Bird in Your Hair" is a book by Harriet Lerner, Susan Goldhor, and Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, published by Harper Collins.  It's one of our favorite books!

Getting the ingredients ready...
 Dice the onions and mushrooms...
you can measure using the
Hindy Chopper!

Sauté all the vegetable in the big skillet...
see how finely diced they are! Make
sure to caramelize the onions & brown the mushrooms!
 It's pasta time! Careful not to burn it!
 Put the Golden Brown Pasta Nests in the
pan with the rice...
 Add the vegetables & broths...almost done!
 Cover and bake for an can smell how 
good it's going to be!!
 HOORAY!! It's, steamy, and YUMMY!!

 I'd love to hear from you!! Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions and recipes after each blog!!!  Don't forget to pass this blog on to your friends and family!!

Look for additional information about  Edible Experience Kosher Everyday at or on Facebook at Edible Experience by Sharon Matten.

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