Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cream of Mushroom Pasta

Maybe it is just here in Utah, but it seems every mom I ever met knew how to make the universal Cream of Mushroom (or broccoli/chicken) Casserole that involved rice, a few chicken breasts, some condensed soup, cheddar cheese, and milk. My casseroles have never turned out well. I would follow the directions, to a tee, but they always ended up undercooked or dried out...and pretty bland. So, I created a dish that involved cooking diced chicken, then adding seasonal veggies, and adding rice or pasta (I cooked in a separate pot at the same time as the chicken) and the cream of mushroom, sour cream, cheese, and milk.

When I set out to find more vegetarian meals this past year, I started playing with a few of my own recipes to see how they would fare without meat in them. This one has held it's weight. So, here is the recipe I came up with last night. You can make it with pasta or rice, but I am making rice tonight, so I chose pasta this time around. I am sure there are more areas that will need hammering and polishing before I will be completely happy with it (especially as I learn more about healthy foods and preparation), but for now I am just happy to have everyone at our dinner table asking for seconds (and that is quite the feat for a family of 8).

The Purple Sprout: Vegetarian Cream of Mushroom Pasta
2 yellow zucchini
12 mushrooms
24 green beans
2 c. skim milk
2 c. sour cream
26 oz (family size) Cream of Mushroom soup
16 oz whole wheat fusilli (you could use rotini, as well)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp season salt
1/4 c butter
2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Bring water to a boil in a stockpot. Dice the green beans, zucchini, and mushrooms and put them into a metal colander/steamer that can rest on top of the stockpot. When the water is ready, throw the pasta in the stockpot and put your veggies on top to steam with the lid over them. Stir both the veggies and the pasta occasionally. Boil/steam for approximately 10 minutes or until the pasta is softened and the veggies are moderately steamed. Then empty the veggies into your serving bowl and use the colander/steamer to drain the pasta water. Put 1/4 c of butter into the stockpot. When it is melted, add the herbs and put the veggies back in the stockpot for a couple of minutes to heat through. Add the milk, soup, sour cream, and finally the pasta back into the stockpot. Heating it up with each step. Stir in the cheese right before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.

(This recipe fed our family of eight, with enough for lunch leftovers for 6 of us the next day. We did have some butternut squash with it, and I limited everyone to one bowlful, just to prove to them the theory that you have to wait a few minutes to allow your tummy to register with your brain you are full. I am not sure how many servings there were...12?)

Obviously, you don't have to have exactly 12 mushrooms or 24 green beans, but I have found that I can remember recipes easier when they involve a container of this or that and equal parts or 1 to 2 ratios, etc. So, there are 2 zucchini, 12 mushrooms, and 24 green beans...2x12=24...easy for me to remember. And easy for you to divide in half, just in case you don't have a family of 8 to feed. LOL. Let me know what is missing or what you did to make it healthier...thanks!

We were bummed that we weren't able to get to my sweet friend's home this past week to make bread, on account of being sick, so I will have to post about our whole wheat bread experience next week. I did, however, stumble upon an easy recipe for some absolutely delicious rosemary bread....not as healthy as whole wheat, but made from scratch, and did I mention that it is divine? :)

The kids enjoyed helping me knead the dough...which was a good thing as my hands were getting pretty sore towards the end. They did an awesome job, too! I was very impressed.

I doubled the recipe and then rubbed the top with EVOO instead of eggs before adding a little bit of my extra (fresh) rosemary. Super yummy! You will definitely have to try out this Delicious Rosemary Bread for yourself.

Hope you are all enjoying your week and for those of you who are joining me on my Healthy Adventure, I am excited to share what I have been going without this past week!

~.~ the purple sprout

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