Monday, August 1, 2011

Cream Sauce? Check.

Well I had a most fun Friday!  My dear friend, Kaitlin, won tickets to the Rascal Flatts concert in Charlotte and invited little ol' me to go with her.  I have a bajillion pictures that I took at the show of Sara Evans and Rascal Flatts, but I have yet to go through them and edit; so they'll have to wait.

I do, however, have a sweet little pasta dish I made the same night as the pineapple upside-down cake.  It's fairly simple and mostly a one pot meal (except for the noodles that are boiled separately of course).  The point is, it doesn't have a million different components that all need separate pans.

I'm a sucker for pasta in a silky cream sauce.  I don't like it to be gunky and the noodles all stuck together.  I also don't mind if prosciutto and leeks are involved.

The finished product is salty and creamy, otherwise known as great comfort food.

I had a leek left over from when I made the tart last week.  Waste not want not.  It's sliced not-too-thin, not-too-thick.  Rinse and dry yadda yadda.

Three cloves of garlic were fine with me.  If you're not as into garlic as I am, you can scale back.  It's safe to say I'd never be a first pick for a vampire.  Just mince up however many you can handle.

Pick out a large pan with decently deep sides.  Nothing too shallow because we're going to toss the pasta with the sauce later, and we want everything to have enough room.  Melt a tablespoon of butter over medium heat.

I actually used butter and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add your garlic and let it get nice and fragrant but not brown.  Just soften it up.

Then bring your leeks to the party.  Let them get soft but again, not brown.  You can turn the heat down to medium low if you feel like things are out of control.

At some point you want to grate some cheese.  Here we have 3/4 cup of parmesan and 3/4 cup of asiago.  I love asiago.  I would eat it every day if I could.  But then I would have to go the gym more than I do so...sacrifices, man.

Y'know I meant to add the prosciutto before the white wine.  I really did.  All's well that ends well, though, no?  Whichever order you do it, let it simmer and reduce down.

Then add some cream.
And the cheese.  That's when it gets really happy in the pan.  Stir the cheese around until it's melted.  It'll thicken up a little, and then you can take it off the heat.

I used little sea shell pasta, but feel free to use the shape of your choice.  I like the kinds that have ridges, grooves, or any other method of retaining the sauce.  Have fun with it.  I like to toss the pasta in the sauce instead of pouring the sauce over the pasta.  It gets coated better this way.  You definitely want to cook the pasta just to al dente since it's going in the pan with the sauce for a minute.  Reserve some pasta water in case the sauce looks too thick to properly get acquainted with the pasta.  Just a ladleful of water should do.

Toss the pasta around in the sauce and plate it up.  And if you don't think you have enough carbs, serve it with some crusty bread.  Or you could have a salad.  Whatever rolls your socks.

Let's talk seasoning a minute.  I didn't add any salt during the cooking process because I knew the prosciutto and cheese would be plenty salty on their own.  I was right.  I think also because the prosciutto was in the wine while it was reducing, it intensified the saltiness.  I did crack some black pepper over the pasta on the plate for good measure.

This was mostly a way to use up some stuff in the refrigerator before I left for Columbia and Charlotte.  Lucky for me it tasted great too!

Creamy Leek and Prosciutto Pasta (serves 4 reasonable portions....2 if you're me)

1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 large leek, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine
1 oz. prosciutto
1/4 c heavy cream
3/4 c grated parmesan
3/4 c grated asiago
Pasta shape of your choice
Pepper to taste

  • Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat in large pan with deep sides.  Add garlic and heat until fragrant and softened.  Add leeks and soften.
  • Add white wine and prosciutto.  Simmer 5-7 minutes.
  • In the meantime, boil pasta for up to 4 servings.  Cook until just al dente and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta.
  • When wine has reduced by half, stir in cream.  Simmer 3-5 minutes and add cheeses. Stir until cheeses have melted.
  • Add pasta to sauce and toss.  Add pasta water 1/4 cup at a time if needed.
  • Serve immediately with crusty bread.

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