31 March 2014

Quick sauces for your spring pasta dishes

In these early days that are finally starting to hint of spring, I find myself eating less and wanting lighter, cleaner flavors (much like this blog's spring redesign).  I also don't want to hover near a hot stove for long periods of time when I could be outside prepping the garden rows, enjoying a cocktail on the front porch, or otherwise enjoying the extra minutes of sunshine.  These pasta dishes are super easy and fast to make, and the sauces can be made ahead and tossed directly into hot pasta for a very fuss-free, healthy meal.  I welcome you to add your own variations in the comments section at the end of this post!

Fettuccine with Almond-Corn Cream 
(adapted from loveandlemons.com)

Serves 6

1.5 cups almonds, blanched or soaked overnight
1.5 cups corn kernels, blanched (fresh or frozen)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon honey
salt to taste
1 lb. fettuccine
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes to taste

Bring a well-salted pot of water to boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions.  

Meanwhile, in a high-speed blender, combine the almonds, corn, water, olive oil, garlic, lemon, honey, and a dash of salt and blend until creamy and smooth.  Taste and adjust ratios/seasoning to your liking. You can refrigerate this sauce for up to two days ahead of time. 

In the last 30 seconds or cooking the pasta, toss in the spinach leaves and allow to wilt.  Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid in a separate bowl.  Toss the pasta with the sauce in a large serving bowl and add cooking water a little bit at a time as necessary to thoroughly coat noodles.  Toss once more with the basil and red pepper flakes if using and add more salt if necessary.  

Shrimp Linguine with Mustard and Cream
sauce adapted from New York Times

Serves 6

1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound deveined shrimp, tails removed
1 jalapeño chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
salt and black pepper
1 cup crème fraîche or crema
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tarragon leaves, roughly chopped

Bring a well-salted pot of water to boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  When it smokes, add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other, until pink all the way through. Add the jalapeño and cook until it starts to go soft, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. 

Lower to medium-low heat and add the crème fraîche, mustard, and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss gently to coat pasta. Add the lime zest, chives, scallions and tarragon and toss to coat.