Farfalle with Spinach, Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 yellow onions, large, sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Creamy pasta sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used button mushrooms)
6 oz spinach
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup Parmesan cheese , shredded
¼ teaspoon salt
8 oz farfalle pasta
Caramelize the onions: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Add sliced onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring with the spatula. The onions should be starting to brown.
Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking the onions for 10 more minutes. Keep stirring so that onions don't burn. Add a pinch of salt over onions.
For another 10 minutes continue to cook on medium or low heat. Stir occasionally so that the onions don't burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.
The onions should have cooked for 30 minutes.
Remove skillet from the heat and sprinkle onions with a splash of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.
Using a spatula, stir the onions, scraping the bottom of the pan. Make sure the onions are coated with the balsamic vinegar you have just used.
Remove these onions and put in a bowl or plate. Set aside until needed.
Get a pot of water and put on a separate element. Heat to boiling on high. This will be for cooking the pasta. I used the back one opposite to what I am using, so that it was out of the way. I always also turn the handles of my pots away from me, so that I don’t accidentally catch them with an arm. I know I am preaching to the choir, so to speak, but this is for any new cooks out there.
Next step, the mushrooms and spinach.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet on medium heat.
Add sliced mushrooms.
Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are soft.
If the water is boiling at this point, cook the farfalle pasta according to package directions. Ours said ten minutes for al dente but we added an extra two minutes to get it to our taste. It was still al dente.
When the pasta is cooked, drain thoroughly in a collander. Put in a bowl and set aside.
Back to the skillet, add the fresh spinach to the mushrooms. Stir on low heat, just until spinach starts to wilt.
Now make the creamy pasta sauce:
Add half-and-half to the mushroom and spinach mixture and bring to a quick boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer.
Add ⅔ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and ¼ teaspoon salt.
Keep stirring on simmer until the cheese melts, which happened almost immediately for us.
Add caramelized onions back to the skillet and mix with the other ingredients. Make sure the pasta sauce is well combined with the other ingredients.
Add cooked and drained farfalle pasta to the creamy sauce. Stir on low heat for a couple of minutes to reheat, and to evenly distribute.
Julia's suggestion: if the sauce is too thick, add a small amount of half-and-half to thin it out. If it is too thin, add a small amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, and stir it in, while the sauce simmers.
Serve with additional shredded Parmesan cheese sprinkled on the top.
Julia's useful notes can be read in the original recipe.
Substitute for half-and-half:
Use ½ cup of heavy cream + ½ cup of milk instead of 1 cup of half-and-half.
I had no half and half and no heavy cream, so used 1 cup whole milk. It still tasted very creamy.
Also from Julia's Album, you can make caramelized onions ahead of time, refrigerate them in an air-tight container, and use within the next 3 days. (I will do this next time, making this meal even easier to prepare.)
You can also freeze caramelized onions for up to 2 months and thaw them whenever you need them.
I also enjoyed our host's information on this pasta which reads as follows:
Farfalle dates back to the 16th century in Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna Regions in Northern Italy.
Farfalle is often used with cream sauces and in tomato-based sauces. It is also popular in salads."
If you prefer to cut and paste the recipe, I have left the whole address below.