Friday, August 20, 2010

Rosemary Citrus Cream Pasta

The major downfall of this dish is that it looks really boring, but it's not :)

I did not grow up eating cream sauces.  My mom does not like  alfredo, so we never ate it.  When I started going to restaurants with friends Fettucini Alfredo was the go-to choice for a lot of people.  But it's not really something that ever occurs to me to eat.  Then combine that with my fear of all the butter and cream in the sauce (butter and cream are perfectly fine in an occasional dessert, they do not, however, have a place in the main component of an entree) means that I don't really eat or cook cream sauces.  It wasn't until last year sometime that I really realized how little cream is necessary in a "cream" sauce.  You really can get away with only putting cream or butter with come flour, and using the rest of the liquid as fat free milk and it still tastes creamy, thick and wonderful (though admittedly, it probably WOULD be better with whole milk).  My point is: cream sauces don't have to be horribly unhealthy.  They also aren't that hard, but if you can pull one off, some of the terminology makes you sound pretty skilled.

This dish was inspired by a ravioli I had earlier this year.  Unfortunately, it was a special that month, so i can't return to the restaurant to have it again.  But I tried to figure out how to make it anyway.  However, I don't really have the time to commit to making ravioli right now, so I tried to do it "inside out" ie. make pasta with cream sauce.

Serves 2

1 (small) clove garlic, this is not the place to indulge your garlic infatuation, if you want to do that, leave out the citrus
1 tsp fresh rosemary (add it slowly to taste, as I learned the hard way, i had too much so I had to add extra milk to mellow it a little)
2 Tbsp cream (also known as 1/8 c)
2 Tbsp flour
4 oz shell pasta (penne or anything with an opening of some sort that could sort of hold the sauce inside would work, but I thought shells were a great idea)  Also note that I used whole wheat because that's all i buy unless it's for a specific purpose
1-1/12 c milk
1/8-1/4 tsp each lime, lemon and orange zest
salt and pepper to taste

Note that i keep lemon, lime and orange zest in my freezer, zesting citrus whenever i use it.  I have the most orange, so I used the most orange.

1. Make a (white) roux (yup, this is where you sound fancy).  To do this, heat the cream until it is warm but not boiling.  Add the flour and stir.  Over low heat, cook this for about 2 minutes, stirring,  or until the consistency changes a little.  Do not let it brown (that would be the start of brown roux).  Remove from heat, add the milk.  It will be lumpy and weird.

2. Bring the milk to a boil.  While you do that, you should peel and chop your garlic and rosemary (and zest any citrus fruits you may have).  Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, you will cook it until it is smooth and thick, but I consider that a separate step.  It should be somewhat smoother after it boils, but it will continue to get better.  I'd add all your flavorings (garlic, a little rosemary, citrus, salt, pepper) now, or as soon as you are done preparing them, as the longer they sit in the cream, the better.  It might be best to add the citrus first, but that's not what I did.  I thought the zests could have steeped a little longer.

3. Cook your pasta however you do.  Though I would recommend undercooking it just slightly.  Apparently the way I cook pasta is not traditional.  Maybe we'll talk about that some other time.

4. Continue cooking your sauce until it is smooth, thick, and tastes how you want it to.  Taste it.  Add some salt and pepper and more citrus or rosemary if you like it stronger.  Once it reaches the desired consistency and flavor, remove from heat and set aside until your pasta is done (make sure you drain the pasta).

5.  Stir the sauce into the pasta and cook for a few minutes, stirring to evenly distribute the sauce and make sure everything is warm and comes together.

6. Serve warm.  Enjoy!

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