Pasta, Rice, Grains, Legumes Tips

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How do I make Risotto?

Sun Dried Tomato & Mozarella Risotto

Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto

5 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring the stock to a simmer. While the stock is heating, drain the sun-dried tomatoes and reserve the oil. Chop the tomatoes coarsely and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil from the tomatoes, add onion and saute until translucent; about 6 minutes.

Add rice to the frying pan and stir to coat with oil; let heat about 2 minutes.

Over medium high heat, spoon a ladleful of stock into the frying pan and cook the mixture on low until all the stock is absorbed; about 2 minutes stirring frequently. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy, approximately 20 to 25 minutes;
stirring frequently.

Add the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil from the tomatoes, chopped basil, and salt and pepper. Mix well and serve.

How do I cook dried beans?

Cooking Dried Beans

Cover beans with cold water and soak them overnight.

Drain well and then cook according to your recipe.

Do not use the soaking liquid to cook your beans in, always start
with fresh unsalted water.

I need a recipe for fettuccine

Lemon Cream Fettuccine

Lemon Cream Fettuccine

1 lb fettuccine
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2/3 cup onion, finely minced
3/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh only
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp Italian parsley, minced
2 tsp fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the fettuccine al dente. Mix the parsley and basil. Mix
the olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in a saute pan.
Cut the rest of the butter into thin pats and let sit at room temperature.

Add the onions and cook slowly until they start to turn color.
Add the lemon juice and raise the heat. Reduce until about 2/3rds of the liquid remains.

Add the lemon zest and whisk in the rest of the butter to make a creamy sauce.
Immediately pour it over the fettuccine.

Sprinkle the parsley and basil over the top and serve immediately.

This dish is rich, creamy and needs no enhancements. For
those who insist, pass freshly grated parmesan on the side.

How do I cook dried beans?

Frijoles (Mexican Beans)

Homemade Mexican beans make an excellent accompaniment to any Mexican or Tex Mex meal.

2 cups dried pinto beans
Water to cover
1/2 pound salt pork
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Soak beans in water overnight. Pour off soaking water and add
fresh water to cover. Add salt pork, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and

Simmer on low heat at least 4 hours or until water is absorbed and
mixture is thick.

Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

How do I make rice pilaf?

Rice Pilaf with Peas

3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice, uncooked
2 threads saffron
1 teaspoon dried chives

In saucepan, saute onion in butter until onion is tender and lightly golden. Add broth; bring to a boil. Stir in rice and cover.

Return to a boil, reduce heat, add peas, saffron and dried chives and cook for about 20 minutes. Do NOT peek !

How do I use parmesan cheese?

Parmesan Cheese Rinds add flavor

If you're using fresh parmesan cheese in your cooking, which I hope you are, DON'T throw out the rind when
the cheese is used.

Instead, save it and next time you're making pasta sauce add in the rind as the sauce is simmering.

This adds a wonderful robust flavor to your sauce and it's economical too.

This also works well when making Hearty Minestrone soup.

How do I cook fluffy rice?

Fluffy Rice

Ensure that you get fluffy rice everytime.

Add about a teaspoon of cider vinegar to the cooking water before adding the rice.

How do I cook pasta?

How much water

To properly cook pasta, use 1 gallon of water per pound of pasta being cooked.

flavored rice

Tex Mex Rice

This rice preparation makes an excellent side dish for Enchiladas, Burritos or Tacos.

3 cups hot cooked rice
16 ounces red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve hot.

How do I use parmesan cheese?

Pasta with Asparagus

This pasta dish showcases the simplicity of its ingredients, resulting in an extremely tasty meal.

5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2-3 dashes Hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup olive
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 pound mostaccioli or gemmeli, cooked and drained

In a skillet, cook garlic, red pepper flakes and hot pepper sauce in oil and butter for 2-3 minutes.

Add asparagus, salt and pepper; saute until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese; mix well.

Pour over hot pasta and toss to coat; serve immediately.

How big should I chop vegetables?

Vegetable Chopping

When preparing vegetables for pasta sauces, make sure to cut the vegetables into approximately the same size as the pasta being used. This helps it to stay on the pasta and not fall to the bottom.

How do I make manicotti?

Stuffing Manicotti

To make the job of stuffing manicotti shells easier, place your filling in a pastry bag without a tip.

Twist the top of the bag to close, and squeeze the filling into the cooked manicotti shell.

What can I make with spinach?

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

A rich and filling pasta dish, even those who don't like spinach will like this!

8 dried cannelloni tubes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh herb sprigs to garnish.
2 Tablespoons butter
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped ham
1 Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups milk
2 bay leaves
1 Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

To make the filling, melt the butter in a pan and stir fry the spinach for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses and the ham. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper. Beat in the cream and eggs to make a thick paste.

Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and the oil and cook for 10-12 minutes, until almost tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk. Add bay leaves and simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg, salt & pepper. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaves.

Spoon the filling into a piping bag and fill the cannelloni.

Spoon a little sauce into the base of an oven proof dish. Arrange the cannelloni in the dish in a single layer and pour over the remaining sauce. Sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

How do I fix sour spaghetti sauce?

Sour Sauce

If your pasta sauce is too sour or acidic tasting, add a pinch of sugar.

How do I freeze rice?

Freezing Rice

Cook and cool rice, package in large plastic
freezer safe bags.

Freezing cooked rice makes for quick to fix meals
later; it is especially good to use for stir frys,
fried rice or pilafs.

How do I make rice pilaf?

Artichoke Parmesan Rice

A delicious and easy preparation for rice.

3 cups hot cooked rice
6 ounces marinated artichokes, coarsely chopped (reserve liquid)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

Stir together all ingredients and serve immediately.

Should I soak beans?

To Soak or Not to Soak?

Dried beans that are soaked overnight will cook much faster.

What rice do I use for Risotto?

Pumpkin Risotto

Serve this wonderful Risotto as the main course with a salad and some fresh crusty Italian Bread or use it as a side served with grilled fish or chicken.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, as needed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan over moderately low heat and keep at

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and
saute about 8 minutes, or until soft but not brown.

Add the pumpkin and saute another 5 minutes. Add the rice and saute, stirring
constantly, for about a minute.

Slowly add the broth, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently.
Don't add more broth until all the liquid has been absorbed. After 2 cups of broth have been absorbed, the rice should be
tender; add more broth if needed.

Stir in the Parmesan Cheese & chopped sage. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding salt and pepper as desired.
Serve immediately.

What rice do I use for Risotto?

Rice for Risotto

In order to produce a creamy risotto, with just a hint of a "bite" you need to purchase the correct kind of rice.

Arborio rice is an Italian short grain rice that has a high starch content.

It is the only suitable rice when making authentic Risotto's as no other rice will produce the correct consistancy.

Wild Rice

Wild Rice & Spicy Pecans

1 1/2 cups water
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups wild rice
3/4 cup pecan pieces
2/3 cup cranberries
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the water, bay leaves, salt and pepper to
taste in a pot with a snug-fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Add the rice,
reduce to a simmer, and cook 40 to 45 minutes.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a saute pan and saute over low heat
until the nuts have toasted lightly.

Remove from the heat and combine with the cooked wild rice.

How do I cook dried beans?

No time to soak

If you're in a hurry or have forgotten to soak your beans overnight try this shortcut.

Place beans in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiled turn off heat and let sit covered for 1 hour.
Drain beans and proceed as directed by your recipe.

How do I make rice pilaf?

3 Rice Pilaf

If you're in a hurry substitute a store bought 3 rice or wild rice mixture for the brown, long grain and wild rices and proceed with recipe as outlined below.

1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup wild rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons green onions, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup pecans, toasted & chopped

In large saucepan saute brown rice, carrots, onion and mushrooms in oil for 10 minutes or until rice is golden. Add wild rice broth, thyme and rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

Stir in long grain rice; cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and wild rice is tender.

Remove from heat; stir in apricots, green onions, salt and pepper, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with pecans just before serving.

How do I cook pasta?

Cooking Pasta

How to cook perfect al dente pasta:

1. Use a big pot with lots of water.
If you use too small a pot the pasta will stick to the bottom of the pot. Also, pasta absorbs a lot of water. The better the pasta, the more water absorption.

2. Bring to a rolling boil before adding pasta.
Don`t rush this part. Putting the pasta in too quickly will make the pasta mushy.

3. Add the pasta all at once and stir until all pasta is submerged.

4. Don`t leave the room while the pasta is cooking.
This is important. One or two minutes can really ruin your pasta.

5. Stir every two minutes so that it doesn`t stick to bottom of pot. Stirring also keeps the pasta from sticking to itself.

6. Test for doneness by tasting and checking the "bite".
Lots of people have amazing techniques for testing when pasta is cooked to perfection. There is only one definitive method - pull out a noodle and take a bite.

7. Don`t throw pasta on the ceiling.
Too messy.

8. Drain in a colander.
Don`t use the lid of the pot to drain the pasta. You can seriously scald yourself and it does a lousy job.

9. Do not rinse unless you are making a cold pasta salad.
Don`t believe the old story about needing to rinse the starch off. You just gave it a bath in boiling water. Trust me it`s clean enough.

10.Serve with a smile.
This is a critical component.

....and one more things....

1. Should you add salt to the water?

The debate in pasta aficionado circles rages on with no clear winner. We feel that taste and personal sodium level preferences should be the deciding factors. Your taste, your body, you decide.

A good idea is to TEST two batches simultaneously. Same pasta, two pots, one salted one without. Get someone to mix them up and take a blind taste test. If you notice a clear preference, your decision has been made. If not, re-read the first paragraph.

FYI, The Big Parmesan doesn`t normally add salt, but may sneak in a few morsels when salty friends are visiting.

How much cooked pasta will one cup of uncooked pasta yield?

Dry vs. Cooked Pasta

One cup of uncooked pasta will yield 2-2 1/4 cups when cooked. A 1 lb. box of pasta contains 4 cups of uncooked pasta, and so 8-9 cups when cooked.

How much raw macaroni do I need?

How much Macaroni?

1 pound of uncooked elbow macaroni will yield 2 cups cooked macaroni.

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Guru Spotlight
Linda Handiak