Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese

I’m a lover of goat cheese.  It’s tangy delicious and it makes me feel grown up and sophisticated when I eat it.  This recipe goes really well with the Fall chill in the air and sometimes you just want some cheesy pasta and to curl up with a good book.

 

Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese
(Inspiration thanks to Food and Wine Magazine)

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 pound ziti [I used gluten free rigatoni for this recipe – more on that below]
4 ounces soft goat cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Ziti ingredients 2

(Please forgive me that the onion is pre-chopped – I always force J into chopping onions!)

1.  In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.

Ziti onions raw

Beginning

Ziti onions brown

Browned

Ziti onions caramel done
Caramelized!

2. In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes.

Ziti mushrooms

3.  Add the reserved onions,  the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper to the mushrooms and remove from heat.

Ziti onion mushroom

4.  In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ziti until just done. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain. Toss the ziti and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan in the pasta pot.  After mixing, pour in the reserve water and stir until all goat cheese has melted.

Ziti mixed

5.  Serve with additional Parmesan and enjoy!

Ziti final

Results:

This worked out really nicely as a fall-tasting tangy recipe.  I think next time I would add asparagus or another vegetable to liven up the color palate.  Think of this as grown up mac-and-cheese.

Something to keep in mind – caramelizing onions takes a deceivingly long amount of time.  On the clock, it takes about 20 minutes, but it seems like it should take less.  Wait for the onions to brown and then keep browning them.  They will get darker but not burn.  This, with the combination of sugar and oil, will make them sweet.  Don’t worry if it feels like it’s taking forever.

Also, on the gluten free note – gluten free pasta is an interesting animal.  Because of its materials (the one featured above is potato based), you have to be mindful of the cooking time.  If you overcook it, it will get sticky and kind of slimy.  For regular pasta, I do a time estimate and hope for the best while checking done-ness of the noodles.  With GF pasta, I always set a timer for 10 minutes and drain it at the buzzer.  Otherwise, it can be a mess.  I will say that taste wise, with a good sauce, you can’t even tell the difference!

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Cider Glazed Chicken with Pecan Rice

Hi readers!
I decided to start this blog to broadcast my cooking attempts while also find a place to keep recipes that are a success.  I find that I thrive with a recipe.  I just haven’t mastered enough of the skills to throw things together on my own without a guide.  It helps me measure and keep in line and also allows me to pass the buck should something turn out wrong.

Fortunately, in this day and age of the internet, recipes are all over the place.  There are a bunch of listservs that will send them along daily, which allows me to pick and choose what looks good and easy.  Also, I like to borrow inspiration from fellow cooking bloggers – they seem to have it locked up in terms of good choices.  Also, from cookbooks and friends.  The best way to expand your knowledge is to ask.

So, with that in mind, I was seeking something autumn inspired.  It is chilly in DC after all and apple season is just wrapping up.  It seemed appropriate to honor this time of year with some cider inspired goodness.

Cider Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice

(inspired by MyRecipes.Com)
Ingredients

1 cup long grain rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound chicken breast cutlets (I was cooking for two so I just used two boneless skinless chicken breasts)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup refrigerated apple cider
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cider Glazed Chicken Prep

Preparation

1. Cook rice according to package directions in a small saucepan, omitting salt and fat; drain.
2. While rice cooks, melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
3.  Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
4.  Add chicken to skillet; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan.
5.  Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook until reduced.
6.  Add chicken to pan, turning to coat. Remove from heat; set aside.
7. Melt remaining butter in saucepan over medium-high heat; cook for 2 minutes or until melted but not gone.
8.  Lower heat to medium; add pecans, and cook for 1 minute or until toasted, stirring frequently.
9.  Add rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well to coat.
10.  Serve rice with chicken. Sprinkle chicken with parsley.

Cider Glazed Chicken with Pecan Rice

Result:

Be sure to reduce the sauce as much as possible.  The original recipe says 2-3 minutes for the sauce but I found it took a lot longer.

I served this one up with a side of broccoli.  The taste was delicious and not too heavy on the cider or the mustard.  The rice turned out a little too sticky for my liking (without a rice cooker, this is a constant struggle) but the pecans fit nicely.