April 8, 2011 § 6 Comments
When I started this blog at the end of last year, I became somewhat ravenous not only for my new culinary adventures but also writing about them. The project quickly sucked me in and I literally had to stop myself from going overboard – boring what few readers I probably have with multiple posts per week and adding unnecessary inches to my waistline. So the fact that I’ve not written in over a month (a month!) is beyond me. Granted, I’ve been quite busy. A new addition to our family, Chloe, a beautiful bassett/beagle has taken over what precious free time I had and used to devote to cooking and writing. She’s learning to dig and eat magazines and her latest adventure was eating a black ink pen on my beige couch which has been fun to deal with. Add on business trips every week followed by a nasty bout of the flu and voila – over a month has passed.
I’ve been dying to write this post since making this dinner Oscar night. I hadn’t planned on making this recipe for the Oscars, but I had truffle butter on hand that only had a few days left before going bad so I figured it was as good a night as any. It was just supposed to be my husband and me that night but at the last minute my whole family joined us so we went from 2 to 6. I’m glad too because the meal was so delicious and made plenty for the 6 of us with a little leftover to savor the following night.
Now, I’m not really a mushroom fan so the fact that I made this with a truffle sauce may be surprising – there are certain traditional dishes with mushrooms like Chicken Marsala that I love, I don’t like the mushroom itself. I think it has to do with the mushroom’s spongey texture. While I avoid most mushrooms, a few years ago I had pasta with truffle sauce. I was actually in Ljubljana, Slovenia, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I’d spent the week going through Slovenia and Croatia (a logistical nightmare but that’s another story) and saw more meat than I cared for – the traditionals and the unusuals (horse and buffalo, no thanks). Needless to say, given that I’m not a big meat lover, I saw lots of pizza – cheese pizza to be exact. We were nearing the end of the trip and we were at a little pub that had a menu full of items I didn’t eat – the only thing that even remotely caught my eye was the pasta with truffle sauce. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but it was my only option. The plate arrived, and not only was it beautiful, it was delicious. I really enjoyed it but hadn’t had it again since it’s not something you see much in the states. Sure, you see plenty of fries with truffle oil which I’ll always order if a restaurant has them to remind me of that afternoon in Ljubljana.
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve this year, and we were in Whole Foods looking for something special to make for dinner. We rarely go to Whole Foods so when we do its like a mini-adventure. I picked up little splurges like Mascapone cheese, fresh roasted garlic, and a Truffle Butter. I hesitated with the Truffle Butter at a whopping $9 for a 2 ounce tub but I’d recently seen Ina Garten prepare it with Tagliatelle which looked so good, so I figured, might as well start the New Year with a little indulgence! January and February seemed to fly by and every day I’d open my fridge to see my precious $9 delicacy just waiting to be eaten. So, when it was Oscar Sunday, I figured I’d waited long enough. It was time to give this pasta a shot. I decided to add the asparagus for some veggies but the shrimp was a total last minute decision after my husband requested some protein for dinner – man was it good though. The delicate pasta with the sweet shrimp and earthy, creamy sauce was divine.
I used homemade pasta for this but store-bought pasta would work nicely here as well. The delicacy of the pasta complimented the sauce very nicely so look for a thin flat pasta. I followed a different pasta recipe than I’ve made before – this time I used Giada’s recipe which calls for more egg than usual, plus olive oil and salt. The resulting pasta was golden and silky with tons of flavor. After rolling out the pasta into the thinnest sheets on my pasta roller, I hand sliced it to make the pappardelle. The easiest way to do this is to fold the sheet a few times and then cut – make sure you flour the sheet before doing so to prevent the dough from sticking together.
Once the pasta was ready to cook, the recipe was actually really easy. If you choose to use bought pasta this cooks in just about 10 minutes after getting the water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, salt it and add the trimmed asparagus in just for a few minutes until tender. Remove the asparagus and add the pasta. Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium heat with some olive oil and garlic. Let the garlic infuse the oil for a minute and then add the shrimp with salt and pepper. While the shrimp cooks, cut the asparagus into one-inch bites and add to the shrimp. Increase the heat, add 1 cup heavy whipping cream (or the amount you prefer), and let boil slightly. Add in the entire tub of truffle butter – I know it sounds like a lot, but remember this is a treat! – and it will melt quickly. Turn the heat off and transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce. Top with fresh chives, parsley, and parmesan.