This is the first in a series of recipes that I’ll be testing and sharing from Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Deb’s ridiculously popular blog gets millions of page views every month (10 million in November!), so if you somehow haven’t yet seen it…you should probably take a peek.
I’m kind of exploding with love for this alfredo. It was even richer, even creamier, than the full-page photo in the book suggests. It was satisfying, it was comforting, it was fun. Because Deb is right: The way the peas nestle inside the cheesy pasta shells is downright charming.
The first thing I noticed in the ingredient list is that the recipe uses just half a pound of pasta. Even for the two of us, I never make less than a pound at a time. (Leftovers never last long, anyway.) So I knew I was going to double everything.
I did a few other things differently, too: I used more peas, replaced some of the cream with 1% milk (and didn’t even miss it), went with mozzarella instead of Parmesan because, let’s face it, it’s cheaper, and skipped the fresh parsley finish (it seemed beside the point for an alfredo). Each of my tweaks totally worked. And I’d make it exactly that way next time, too.
The only problem with this alfredo is that you’re liable to eat too much in one sitting. When each forkful is as good as this, it’s just really hard to stop.
If you do manage to save some for the next day, good news: Peas and shells alfredo happens to reheat really nicely when you nudge it along with a drizzle or two of milk.
Recipe at a glance:
- Accessible ingredients? Yes, though I prefer using mozzarella instead of the more expensive Parmesan.
- Multiple steps required? Nope. You just boil the pasta and peas, make the sauce, and mix them together.
- Left with lots of dirty dishes? One of the best things about this recipe is that you only dirty one pot (okay, and one strainer).
- Taste worth the effort? Absolutely.
- Make again? Definitely, and I’ll probably try it with other pasta shapes and vegetables, too.
One year ago: Marinated eggplant salad
Tweaked from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Yield: About 4 large servings
- 500 grams pasta shells (about 1 lb.)
- 2½ cups frozen peas
- 1½ cups 15% cooking cream
- ½ cup 1% milk
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1. In a large soup pot, cook the pasta and peas together according to the pasta’s package directions. Drain them together and let them sit in the strainer while you prepare the alfredo sauce.
2. Pour cream and milk into the now-empty pot and bring to a simmer, then cook over low heat for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add butter, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and stir until the butter has completely melted.
3. Add ¾ cup mozzarella and stir until the cheese melts and starts to thicken the sauce, about 3 minutes. Pour pasta and peas into the sauce, stir well to evenly coat, and sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes to further thicken the sauce.
4. Turn off the heat, give everything a final, vigorous stir, and add another pinch of salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.
Tip: To reheat, add a small splash of milk and let the pasta warm gently over a low flame, stirring often and adding only as much milk as needed to restore the creaminess.
Updated June 1, 2014: These directions previously had you add the frozen peas to the pot of cooking pasta for only the last 4 minutes of cooking time. I’ve found repeatedly, though, that they come out better with the full time (8 minutes for almost every kind of pasta I make). The recipe has been updated.
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