Creamy Pappardelle with Shrimp, Spinach, and Tomato

I could watch hours of Barefoot Contessa. I adore Ina Garten and her grandmotherly qualities, but she hooks me with the recipes – they are spectacularly pragmatic when they need to be, and fussy when they should be. That, to me, is cooking. I was watching her show the other week when she made this Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter recipe, and as a lover of Truffles without the pocketbook to buy them, appreciated the short cut. It was delicious. I jazzed it up by sauteing onion and green pepper ahead of making the sauce, and then incorporated to the pasta right before serving. And then I realized that this is a base cream sauce: cream warmed, with a little bit of butter and Parmesan, but without the fuss of calling it Alfredo and using an entire stick of butter. So I tried my hand at it again, eliminating the Truffle Butter (okay, $9 for 3 oz. of truffle butter is way better than $300 for 1/2 oz. of actual truffle, but it’s still a splurge), and added more vegetable and shrimp. It’s a bit of a Julia recipe (meaning, I’m no test kitchen cook), so beware if you recreate this at home…it’s a lot about experimentation. Hope you and yours are doing well, and enjoying the holiday season.

Creamy Papardelle with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Spinach
Serves 2

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, slivered
10 grape tomatoes, quartered
3 cups fresh spinach
1/3 pound shrimp (if not already cooked, cook ahead). To get more shrimp bites, buy more shrimp or cut them into smaller pieces (say, three pieces per shrimp if medium sized shrimp)
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 (8.82-ounce) package Papardelle dried pasta or other egg fettuccine
2 ounces Parmesan, shaved thin with a vegetable peeler

Directions

Add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) saute pan, saute the onions on medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Add shrimp (pre-cooked, and cut into smaller pieces if you’d like) and tomatoes. Cook for about a minute. Add 1/4 cups of cream and spinach. Lower heat to medium low and stir, wilting the spinach, about 5 minutes. Once spinach is wilted, empty contents of pan into bowl and set aside.

Your water should be boiling by now, so add your noodles if they require 7+ minutes. If they are the 3 minute cooking noodles, add your noodles after the next step.

In the same saute pan you used for the vegetables and shrimp, add 1/2 cup cream and heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter and stir. Once the butter is melted, add a generous pinch of salt and season with pepper. Lower the heat to very low. If you have the 3 minute cooking noodles, add those to boiling water now.

When the noodles are done cooking, remove the noodles from water and add to cream sauce, stirring the noodles into the cream sauce as you go.* As the pasta absorbs the sauce, add as much of the reserved cooking water, as necessary, to keep the pasta very creamy.

Add the shrimp, tomato, onion and spinach mixture to noodles and stir until incorporated. Serve hot.

*This is a new technique for me, and I think it’s awesome. I’m a picky person about sauce and wanting the whole noodle to be covered in cream, so adding a little noodle at a time and stirring between batches gets the job done for me. If this is too painstakingly slow, drain pasta as you normally would, but reserve some of the pasta water to add back into the pasta cream sauce.

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