The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is here!
And I’m heralding its arrival with a recipe that is so classically Deb. It’s a regular dish, which you thought would taste like it always does. You didn’t even really think, you just assumed it would taste like it always does. Because it’s nothing new. Right?
Because Deb has this way–and maybe it’s her insistence on trying a recipe again and again, until it’s just so–of taking a beloved classic you thought you knew, and making it better than you dreamed it could be. This won a raving, “I usually don’t like alfredo but this is amazing” review from my husband. And it made me realized that I’ve never like alfredo until now. Oh sure, I ordered it when I was feeling particularly indulgent, as anything laced with that much cream and draped in a metric ton of cheese will taste decadent. But it doesn’t necessarily taste good. Deb’s does.
There’s just enough sauce to coat the pasta, not enough to leave a thick sludge at the bottom of your bowl. And while you might read her suggestion to mix half whole wheat and half regular pasta as a thinly veiled attempt to make this dish healthier, I promise it only adds to the complexity of the final product (this promise is decidedly true because I normally hate whole wheat pasta). But the highlight of it all is that instead of using fettuccine, or some other, strand-like pasta, Deb suggests shells. I didn’t have those around, but instead, used another curvy shape with ridges. This sauce folds itself around every bend in the pasta, and the bright peas tuck into each nook and cranny the noodles create.
What you luck out with is a decadent dinner that doesn’t leave you sitting on the couch, clutching your stomach for the rest of the night.
To make 2-4 servings, you will need:
- 8 oz. dried pasta shells; Deb recommends using a combination of whole wheat and regular pasta.
- 1 C cream
- 1 C fresh shelled peas (but frozen will do)
- 3 T unsalted butter
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (something I don’t advise missing out on)
- 1 C finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 T parsley (though I was thinking chives might be fun, too)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook according to package directions, adding peas about 1 minute before draining. Reserve 1/2 C pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and set aside.
Put pot back over heat and add cream. Bring to boil and let simmer about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced. Add butter, and stir till melted. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper. You want enough pepper that you can taste it in each bite. I promise that’s not a gross thing. Add lemon zest, and 3/4 C Parmesan, and stir till combined. Add pasta and peas back to sauce and let the whole thing cook for 2 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. Add pasta water, if necessary, to loosen the sauce if it’s too gloppy.
Place pasta in serving bowls, and top with more cheese and herbs.