Apr 21, 2015

Plenty of Pasta

When thinking of chametz many folks have the same thought—we love our pasta! And, please don’t confuse pasta and noodles—there is a difference! Pasta is made from flour and water while noodles almost always contain eggs.  Other dry pasta shapes do not. By federal law, a noodle must contain 5.5 percent egg solids to be called a noodle. So without egg, a noodle really isn't a noodle—it’s pasta.

Pasta is believed to have originated in the Middle East and was brought to Italy by Arab traders.  Pasta is even mentioned in the Talmud, referred to as “itriyya” or boiled dough. In 2005, Chinese archaeologists claimed to have found the oldest noodles in the world.  But while this find is disputed by some experts, noodles have been proven to have been part of the Chinese cuisine for almost 4000 years.  Others credit noodles to Marco Polo, who traveled to China and brought noodles back to Italy to add to his country's repertoire of pasta. So while the history of pasta may be confusing, its popularity is definitely not in dispute!

Top-quality pasta is made from durum wheat. Most durum wheat grown in the U.S. is grown in North Dakota. American-grown durum wheat is considered among the best in the world and is primarily used by the pasta manufacturing industry. Durum is a high gluten wheat, making it too tough for cakes and bread but perfect for pasta. 

Always cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Never overcook. It should be firm to the tooth or “al dente.” Overcooking pasta will make it mushy and starchy.

Most kids will eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It comes in so many shapes and sizes, making pasta appropriate for countless sauces and recipes.  This recipe is sure to become a family favorite!


For the crumbs:

3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs from leftover challah

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 cup parsley, checked and chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, divided


For the mushrooms:

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)

1 cup hot water

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/4 pounds fresh white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, checked and chopped

1/2 kosher teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup milk

1 pound farfalle (bowtie) pasta or fusilli (corkscrew)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch or other 3-quart glass or oven-to-tableware dish.

Spread out crumbs in a shallow baking pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, then toss with garlic, parsley, olive oil, pepper, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.

Soak porcini in boiling-hot water in a bowl until softened, about 20 minutes.

Drain porcini in a sieve set over a bowl and reserve soaking liquid, then rinse porcini. Pat dry and finely chop.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté onion and garlic, stirring, until onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, oregano, parsley salt, and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms are browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir in chopped porcini, reserved soaking liquid, and milk and simmer 1 minute.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a 6 quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until al dente. Drain in a colander, then transfer to baking dish and stir in mushroom mixture and remaining cheese.

Mmmm….hearty appetite!

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