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Rabbi David Sperling

Tevet 4, 5776
A frum reliable guest cooked a dish. The meat pot had not been used for 4 mounths. The meat knife with a straight edge had not been used for 6 weeks. Pasta was cooked in the meat pot. then drained. the monion was sliced with the meat knife and sauteed in the pot with a bit of oil and other vegetables. The pasta was then returned to the pot and it was mixed with the vegetables. It was brought to me cold in an aluminum container. The pasta was served cold with dairy on the table. Some of the kids added cheese to the pasta. Is this permissable. What is the status of the pasta????
Shalom, Thank you for your question. If I understand the situation correctly, the issue is twofold – firstly if parve food was cooked in a meat pot, can it be eaten with milky foods. Secondly, if the parve food is "sharp", such as an onion, is the situation worse? If we were dealing with only the pasta, then the law would be that because it was cooked in a meat pot that had not been used for meat for over a day (in your case many months) it would be permitted to mix the pasta with cheese and eat it. [Just for your information – had the pot indeed been used for meat within 24 hours of cooking the pasta in it, then for Ashkanazim it would be forbidden to mix the pasta with cheese, but if it was inadvertently mixed it could, after the fact, be eaten. Sephardim may in such a case even mix the pasta with cheese on purpose]. However, the use of the onion in this situation makes it more complicated. Onions are considered as "sharp" foods. These types of foods, because of their spiciness draw out more taste than do regular foods. Because of this an onion cut with a meat knife, even though the knife had not been used for meat for more than 24 hours (or 6 six weeks in your case), causes the onion to be imbued with a meat taste. All the more so when cooking the onion in a meat pot, it draws out the meat taste from the pan, and the onion is considered as meaty. That being so, unless the amount of onion was so small as to be nullified (that is less than 1 in 60 of the pasta – that is if it was one onion, was the pasta equal to the size of 60 onions or more), the pasta would be considered as meaty. Obviously, in such a case it cannot be eaten with cheese – nor with milk utensils. The question as what to do now, after the fact, depends on if the food was hot or cold. You wrote that it was eaten cold. If this is the case then all that needs to be done is to wash off all the dishes etc. If though the pasta with cheese was then heated in a microwave etc, then there is a serious concern for the kashrut of the plates used. If this was the case, please write back to me with further details of exactly what type of plates were used (class, plastic etc), how hot the food was, and any other details. In certain cases there is room to rely on a combination of factors in determining the status of the dishes used – so please feel free to be in contact with any further questions. Blessings.
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