The queen of pasta and all Italian food is Lidia Bastianich. Go ahead and find me another woman who tops her skills. I'm waiting..... Nope? I didn't think so. Okay, well I mean there are probably women living in middle of nowhere Genoa making the ultimate pasta dish in the world but I can only work with what I have and know. Anytime I watch her show on PBS, I have to make pasta either that day or as soon as I can. She encouraged me to work on this dish again. Although Lidia might not approve of my changes or my use of boxed pasta, I think she would be proud of my brand new pasta outlook.
(Photos courtesy of Pioneer Woman)
This is my second time making Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce. The first time I made it, I did not like it all. It was too soupy and rich for my taste and I almost gave up on the recipe. I am so glad I didn't! With my own tweaks and changes, I think I made this recipe damn near perfect. Here are my notes:
-- The first time I made this I used gnocchi. I thought maybe I could somehow copy my favorite dish at Angelina in Green Bay but that did not work out so well. I think gnocchi (in my kitchen) works better with simple butter based sauces, not complex tomato based sauces. I tried fettuccine instead and thought it was spot on. The noodles pick up the thick sauce and are hearty enough to not fall apart like spaghetti.
-- I used only one can of Contadina sauce instead of two because only two people were enjoying this dish. But I still used a whole onion, 4 cloves garlic and all the rest of the ingredients the same because I wanted a really thick but not fatty sauce.
-- Speaking of fatty sauce, I hated using the heavy cream in the first try of this dish. I don't like to use thick dairy products because I hate the way they make me feel while eating them. They are too heavy and make me feel gross after eating. Instead of the cream this time, I used 4 ounces of low-fat cream cheese. It worked SO WELL. You have the richness of the cheese but a lot less fat than heavy cream.
-- I prefer this dish without the fresh basil. I make the sauce and add dried basil and oregano and also omit the sugar. The fresh basil is too overpowering and it is all you can taste when you eat it.
-- When the pasta is done, I do not save the water either. Like I said already, I wanted a really thick sauce but if you want it thinner, save the starchy cooking water.
Once the sauce is thick and rich, drop the delicious al dente pasta into the pan and mix it around until it is totally coated. Turn it quite a few times and top with a nice sprinkling of parmesan on top. When I picked this up with a tongs, I swirled it into a beautiful little pile on my plate and served it with some warmed Tuscan bread. It is rich, tart and salty without being too heavy or overpowering in any particular flavor.
I give this recipe:
Less than a day to enter the first No Meat Mama giveaway! I will announce it tomorrow afternoon and good luck!