Thursday, August 18, 2016

Comfort food: brown noodles

Ok, so if noodles implies egg noodles, this should be called brown pasta instead.  This is like rice-a-roni without the rice.   I find it comforting in the way that carbs and fats without much protein and no vegetables can be.  It is also very easy and lots of fun to make.  It is cooked like a risotto, in that you add the liquid a bit at a time.  However, it takes a lot less time than a risotto and the browning of the noodles beforehand helps to keep the noodles more al dente and gives them a great and distinctive flavor. It is the kind of thing that I make when there is nothing else in the house, or when there is wonderful stuff in the house, but these noodles are better.

The proportions below are a dinner for one or side for two or three.  You can double it if you want.  

Brown noodles

Ingredients

  • 2-4 ounces very thin macaroni pasta like capellini, spaghettini or angel hair
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • salt or salty seasoning (see below)
  • 1-2 cups boiling liquid (see below)
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley (optional)
Method

  1. Break up pasta in a large bowl, which will keep pieces from flying all over the kitchen.  In terms of texture, the pieces should be about 2-3 inches long, but this makes it more difficult to handle in the skillet without burning, so you can break them into much smaller pieces of about 1/2 inch to an inch if you want.
  2. Melt butter on medium heat in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Add the noodles and cook for about 5 minutes  stirring almost constantly to brown lightly.  Be careful not to burn.
  3. Sprinkle with salt or seasoning.
  4. Turn heat up to high and add liquid 1/2 cup at a time.  If the liquid is  boiling, it will go faster, 
  5. As the noodles absorb the liquid, add another half cup.  You don't have to measure, the dish is very forgiving and the liquid will evaporate quickly.  
  6. The noodles are done when the bend easily -- taste one to be sure.  It should not have a raw center.
  7. Sprinkle with plenty of black pepper and if desired, cheese and parsley. 

Liquid:  This would be great with a homemade stock, whether vegetable or meat.  But it is plenty good made with water.

Salty seasoning:  You could use just a large pinch of salt and plain water, but when I make this I most often use a pareve soup powder like Osem.  I am not proud of this, but it works.  

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