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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oh, the pasta-bilities!

I have a confession to make - I love carbs.  LOVE them!  As in I have an unhealthy love of anything starchy and would be very grumpy if I ever attempted one of those low carb diets.  I've been trying to offset my cravings for a crusty french bread or heap of mashed potatoes by substituting whole grain breads for white bread and spaghetti squash instead of pasta, but I stil indulge my obsession.  One of my favorites is pasta.  And when I say pasta, I don't just mean of the Italian variety (although it IS yummy).  Vietnamese noodles with pork, Japanese soba noodles, Thai cellophane noodles with peanut sauce, German spaetzle....any of these are a perfect meal for me.  Last night I gave into that yearning with linguine.
Homemade "sun-dried" tomatoes

Growing up, my mom had a dish that she made pretty regularly.  It was a simple sauce, that wasn't a sauce really.  She sauteed chicken and broccoli in some olive oil, added sun-dried tomatoes and white wine, and tossed it in with linguine.  Because I just made "sun-dried" tomatoes (I put that in quotes because the sun was really my food dehydrator) out of the abundance of large cherry tomatoes I picked from my garden, I figured this was the perfect time to take my mom's recipe and give it my own twist.  So, off to the kitchen I went to give it my take.  Here's what I came up with.

Shrimp and Broccoli Linguine in a Creamy White Wine Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled
1 nice size head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely
1 8 oz package of sliced white mushrooms
2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped roughly
Salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c white wine
1 c heavy cream
1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese, plus a little extra for the top.
1 box linguine

Minced garlic and tomatoes
This recipe works best if you prep everything ahead of time.  It cooks so quickly, once you get that heat going it'll be done before you know it.

Fill a large pot with water and a dash of salt and bring to a boil.  Once the water hits a rolling boil, add linguine.  You'll want the pasta to be done but not soggy (what we call "al dente").  Once it is done, drain in a colander and put back in a pot.  I drizzle a little olive oil over the top and toss the pasta to keep it from sticking (plus olive oil....YUM!)

In the meantime.....
Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet.  Toss the broccoli into the heated oil and stir fry until it gets a bright green color.  Add garlic, basil, salt, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms and continue cooking over medium heat until veggies start softening.  Keep an eye on this and stir very often - minced garlic can scorch VERY easily.

Add wine and continue cooking until veggies are about done.  Add shrimp and keep cooking until they turn pink and opaque.  (Side rant about cooking with wine - do not, I repeat DO NOT buy cooking wine.  It's all salt and it tastes bad.  My rule of thumb is if I wouldn't drink it, I'm not cooking with it.  Believe me, your taste buds will thank you.  Plus, if you buy an inexpensive yet tasty bottle of wine to cook with, you can pour yourself a glass or two while you make dinner!)

Veggies starting to soften up
Now is when you add heavy cream.  Yes, it HAS to be heavy cream.  Because the wine is acidic, the higher fat content will keep your milk from curdling.  Plus, it thickens up nicely and it's delicious!  Simmer until the cream slightly thickens.  This isn't an alfredo sauce so it's not going to be really thick.  Think of it as more of a coating for the pasta.

Once the sauce thickens a little, add the parmesan cheese and give it another quick stir to incorporate the cheese.

You KNOW you want to eat this!!!!
Place some of the linguine on a plate and pour some of the sauce over the noodles.  Garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

This dish is proof that good food doesn't have to be complicated or take forever.  This is a good dinner for the weekdays when you don't have 3 hours to stand in the kitchen.  The surprising thing about this meal is that despite the heavy cream, it is pretty light.  The acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the cheese and cream and gives a really good balance.   Of course, this one also got the hubby seal of approval.  I also made a flourless chocolate tuxedo cake for a decadent dessert, but that is a blog for another day.  Stay tuned....

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