Pumpkin Pasta Alfredo

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I am a sucker for unique pasta shapes. I just can’t help myself. Traditional varieties are also fun, like bucatini and radiatore, but if I come across pumpkin-shaped pasta, like I did recently at Trader Joe’s, I just have to grab it.
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I wasn’t sure how sturdy the little pumpkin pastas would be once cooked, so I didn’t want to make a really heavy sauce. Instead I decided on the recipe that first introduced me to fettuccine al burro, also known as alfredo sauce, from the Italian cookbook of the Time-Life Foods of the World Cookbook. The word burro reminds me of donkeys, so I prefer the term alfredo!

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The recipe is really straight-forward. It’s practically equal parts butter, cream, and Parmesan. Yes, it’s pretty rich. You’re welcome.
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Pumpkin Pasta Alfredo
Adapted from The Cooking of Italy

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly and finely grated Parmesan
14 ounces dried pasta, cooked according to the package
Freshly grated Parmesan

Cream the softened butter by beating it vigorously against the sides of a large, heavy bowl with a wooden spoon until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the cream a little at a time, and then, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, beat in the grated cheese.


Cover the bowl and set it aside. It needs to stay at room temperature.
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Cook the pasta, test for bite, then drain in a colander.
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Place the hot pasta in the bowl with the creamed butter and cheese mixture and toss gently until the pasta is evenly coated.

Taste and season generously with salt and pepper; I used a little salt and white pepper.
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You can also add thinly-sliced white truffle, which is included in the original recipe.
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I instead added a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg.
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Offer extra grated cheese because, you can never have too much cheese!

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Note: I came across pumpkin-shaped pasta at Williams-Sonoma a week or so after I purchased this package at Trader Joe’s. It was almost five times the price!

Leeks Creole

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I have never thought of leeks as an accessory ingredient because of this recipe. These leeks, topped with a warm spicy vinaigrette, could be a first course, a side dish, or a salad. But however you eat these leeks, you will always have respect for this fabulous Allium, if you didn’t already. They’re not just meant to be a filler for potato soup.

This recipe is in the Creole and Acadian recipe booklet from the Foods of the World series of Time Life. I actually remember the first time I made these leeks, as part of a full Creole meal.

Creole/Cajun/Acadian is an American regional favorite of mine, because of the spiciness, mostly.

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The recipe is quite simple. It’s just a matter of first cleaning the leeks. Trim them and slice in half lengthwise. Then let running water rinse them off. If you need help with the cleaning technique, click here.

Place the cleaned leeks in a shallow pan, and cover with water. Bring to a soft boil, put a lid on the pan, and let the leeks cook for not more than 10 minutes. Using two spoons, carefully place the cooked leeks onto paper towels and let drain and cool off slightly. Alternatively, they could be steamed if you have a large enough steamer basket.

Meanwhile, prepare the spicy vinaigrette, recipe follows:

Creole Vinaigrette Sauce
To make about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-8 tablespoons olive oil

The way the recipe has you make it is like making a fairly thin aioli. I opted to just place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together.


And by the way, I didn’t have tarragon vinegar, so I used a combination of apple cider vinegar and fresh tarragon.

The recipe suggests that you serve the leeks cold. I notated on the recipe page that they’re good cold or hot, but I think the flavors really pop when at least the vinaigrette is warm. Alternatively, if your leeks are still warm, the room temperature vinaigrette will warm up on the leeks. The heat really enhances the spiciness.

Place the drained leeks on a serving plate. Then gently pour on the vinaigrette.

As you can tell, I also sprinkled the leeks with tarragon leaves.

The sweetness of the leeks really pairs beautifully with the spicy, warm vinaigrette.

You just have to try them!