bits and pieces

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Aleana's Magical Pasta: Tagliatelle with Prawns and a Balsamic Reduction

The sauce is ugly since it's just brown, but is this not the happiest looking plate of pasta? You get veggies, you
get protein from the shrimp, you get some calcium from the cheese and you get a bunch of sinful delicious
from the balsamic sauce. Excelseor! 
*note - this is a reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally old post from the dark days of my blog when I was briefly camera-less. I have reposted it because I finally took a nice photo. Yaaaaaay!

I got the recipe for the sauce from my friend Sean who got it from his mom who is an extraordinary lady if only because she has to be his mom. GROSS. She is also incredibly nice, as the first time I met her I wasn't wearing pants and she didn't even bat an eye. I was sick and gross and thought Sean was bringing his poor sick friend some soup. I opened the door unshowered, diseased and only wearing a giant t-shirt to find his beautiful Mom standing outside my cave of disease. She was nice, mommy-ish and didn't mention my lack of pants.

One night at the start of my last summer in Montreal, Sean had me and my roomies over for dinner and cooked up some fresh asparagus and served it with this sauce.

I liked it so much I wanted a more serious way to consume this sauce and started eating it for dinner with pasta. No joke, I'm pretty sure I made this for dinner maybe 3 nights in a row. I like to make this sauce and keep in the fridge and put it on everything. Seriously, when I get around to posting some mac and cheese recipes I will command you to put this on top. I put this on bread, mac and cheese, pasta, cheese, pretty much any vegetable... it is THAT good.

As an inexplicable side note - when I was in the best shape of my life, I was eating this for dinner probably 3 times a week. This is something I need to investigate. By promptly eating this 3 times a week.
When looking for asparagus you want it to be bright and healthy looking and purple-y. If you grab a bunch of asparagus and squeeze it, you should be able to hear it squeak. The louder the squeak, the better! For prepping your fresh asparagus, to figure out where to 'trim' your asparagus simply grab the asparagus and gently snap it. Keep the top snapped bit and throw the bottom bit away or compost it like the awesome composting person you are!

I like to use tagliatelle because it's easy for me to estimate how much pasta I want (sometime I am terrible at), but you can obviously use spaghetti, linguine, etc.

Also, maybe its because I'm Canadian but sometimes I like to cook my prawns in a teeny little bit of maple syrup. This might sound strange, but whenever I see maple syrup sitting in my fridge I like to try and incorporate it into as many meals as possible. I know. Shrimp and maple syrup. I am a strange critter. But don't let this blasphemy distract you from making this pasta.

2 nests of tagliatelle per person is generally a good bet. If I'm starving I can eat 3 but I am a carb consuming machine. This recipe is for 1 hungry person (minus the sauce), but you can increase it depending on how many people you have to feed. 
1/2 cup asparagus, cut into maybe 1 inch pieces.
6-8 cleaned, shelled, prawns
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped onion
a little bit of lemon zest.
1/3 cup crumbled feta.
salt and pepper to taste 

ingredients for the sauce:
1 bottle of balsamic vinegar (yup, 1 whole bottle. As I said, this makes a lot more sauce, but keep it and eat it on everything). 
1 carton of whipping cream. 
sometimes I throw in some fresh basil because I feel like it. 

other things you'll need:
a pasta pot to boil your pasta water in
a sauce pan for making your sauce in
a small frying pan from your prawns/asparagus 
  1. first start your sauce. Pour the ENTIRE bottle of delicious balsamic vinegar into your sauce pant and heat until it comes to a boil. Simmer this balsamic until it reduces by half or a little more. Once it has reduced (10 minutes or so), slowly whisk in your cream until it's the colour of milky coffee. Taste your sauce - too tart? Add more cream. Throw in a handful of freshly torn basil and set aside over low heat (just to keep it warm). 
  2. put your water on to boil. I like to really salt my pasta water and I always throw a bay leaf or two in for taste (just make sure you remove the bay leaf before you eat your pasta). 
  3. while your water is coming to a boil, heat your olive oil in your frying pan. Add your garlic and onion and cook until soft. 
  4. Add your prawns and that little bit of lemon zest. Prawns take about 2-3 mins/side. You'll know one side is done when it's pink and your little prawn is starting to curl in on itself. When you flip your prawns to cook the other side, throw in your asparagus (asparagi?). 
  5. stir your prawns and asparagus together until the asparagus is starting to look bright green and nice. Set aside. 
  6. cook your pasta. If your water already came to a boil and you threw it in already, brava! If not, cook your pasta now. Tagliatelle takes about 8 minutes to cook until al dente. 
  7. Drain your pasta but put it back in the pot. Throw in your prawns and asparagus and stir until nicely tossed. I like to do this over the element I was just cooking the pasta on so everything is nice and hot - just make sure nothing sticks to your pot! Add your crumbled feta, and then slowly add your sauce. You don't want this pasta drowning in sauce, but you definitely want enough to coat your pasta gently. Toss your pasta with the sauce, season with pepper or Parmesan if you like. Then start thinking of other ways to eat this sauce. 

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