Christmas Fettuccine

Woof. This past month has FLOWN by. I absolutely meant to share details from my Friendsgiving celebration and my favorite recipe for turkey and wild rice soup to use up your leftovers, but time got away from me. I’ve been super busy between both jobs and preparing for Christmas, I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks and by the time I was finally able to even think about writing up those posts….

It was last week. So, onward.

It’s literally three days before Christmas and I still have a ton to do, but I wanted to share this recipe because it’s part of my favorite tradition on my favorite day of the year, plus it’s a super quick meal. In less than twenty minutes you’ll be sitting down in front of your favorite Christmas movie and waiting for Santa to squeeze his big butt down your chimney.

As much as I love the Christmas holiday and spending time with my family on Christmas Day, the time I have to myself on Christmas Eve is just as precious to me. The past few years I’ve spent Christmas Eve day finishing up everything I need for the next day; making dessert to take to mom’s and wrapping the last of the gifts and putting them under the tree (for the cats, you know). But when the evening comes, it’s my time to relax, enjoy a glass of wine by light of the Christmas tree, watch a few of my favorite holiday classics, and dig in to this pasta.

As a matter of fact, the idea for this dish came directly from one of the movies I watch every year – The Holiday. It’s a (slightly cheesy) Nancy Meyers movie with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Jude Law (ūüėć). In it, Kate Winslet’s character offers to make “Christmas Fettuccine” for Jack Black, and honestly, what could be better on Christmas Eve than a bowl of creamy, decadent pasta?

Nothing. Nothing is the answer. So let’s jump in.

What you’ll need: Fettuccine noodles (I bought fresh to cut down on time, but regular dried is fine), pancetta, heavy cream, butter, grated parmesan, garlic, shallot, and fresh parsley didn’t make it in the photo. Side note: the only pancetta I could find on this day was sliced, but if you can find a packaged of diced pancetta use that, or you can get a thick slice from the deli counter and dice it yourself.

While waiting for a large pot of water to boil, dice a large shallot and finely mince two cloves of garlic. Dice pancetta if necessary. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent. Add pancetta to the pan and allow to brown slightly. Add the minced garlic to the pan and sauté for a minute or two, until fragrant, but avoid letting it burn. (Remove the pan from the heat as necessary to avoid burning)

Salt water and boil pasta – if using fresh, it should only take about three to four minutes. If you’re using dry pasta, you might want to wait to make your sauce until the pasta is almost done cooking.

Seriously, this goes quickly.

Drain pasta and rest. Add the cream to the pan with the shallots and pancetta. Stir and allow to thicken for a few seconds.

Toss the pasta in the sauce, and add in the grated parmesan. Season (lightly) with salt and (heavily) with fresh cracked pepper.

Top with minced fresh parsley and a little more grated parmesan and serve.

A big bowl full of Christmas Fettuccine, a nice crisp Riesling, accompanied by The Holiday and Love Actually. Now that’s a perfect Christmas Eve.

Oh, I guess these jerks could hang out too.

Christmas Fettuccine 

  • 1 package (9oz) fresh fettuccine pasta (use half a pound of dry pasta)
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 oz. diced pancetta (depending on availability)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter
  • Half pint heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 Tb fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper

Dice shallot finely, mince garlic and parsley. Dice pancetta if needed. Boil water for pasta, and cook pasta according to package directions.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add shallot to pan and saut√© for a few minutes until translucent. Add pancetta to pan and allow to brown. Add garlic and saut√© for a few seconds until fragrant but don’t brown. Add cream and grated cheese to the pan, and toss in cooked pasta. Toss until entirely coated with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.

Enjoy. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

Simple Supper: Linguine with Fresh Clams

Did you ever inexplicably get a craving for a dish that you never had in your entire life? And were kind of convinced you’d never like anyway so never bothered to try? That’s how this happened. I was sitting at work one Friday afternoon, wondering what to make for dinner, when suddenly the urge for linguine with fresh steamed clams came over me. Not canned white clam sauce, but fresh steamers, still in their shells, piled on top of a plate of¬†buttery, lemony linguine, with just a hint of crisp pinot grigio in the sauce.

“Mmm,” Said my imagination.

“Growl,” Said my stomach.

So off I went to my local Wegman’s after work to gather my ingredients. Lo and behold when I got to the fish counter, I find that they don’t sell clams by the dozen, but only by bags of 50. Now, I can pack away some food, but FIFTY clams? Plus pasta? Not happening.¬†I grumped away from the counter (yes, grumped. It’s a verb), picked up a baguette, a nice hunk of cheese, and a bag of grapes for dinner and vowed to make the dish of my daydreams another time.

A few weeks later on my day off, with visions of linguine still in my mind,¬†¬†I headed to the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market in the hopes that my luck would be better with their fish mongers. And it was. I picked up a couple dozen middle neck steamers, and I got my produce for half the week while I was there, to boot.

I got the clams home and immediately put them in a bowl of water in the fridge with some oatmeal for a few hours. This helps the clams spit out any sand or grit that might be in their shells.

When it was time to make dinner, I put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. I grabbed my favorite braising pan, added a few inches of water, and brought that to a boil as well. I added the clams to the second pot and covered them.

Once the shells were all opened I removed the clams from the water and set them aside. I drained the water from the pot, dried it quickly, and returned the pot to the medium high stove top. I added butter and oil to the pan & let it melt & come to temp.

I added some diced shallot and garlic and sauteed for a few minutes. Once the shallots are translucent to slightly browned, add the red pepper flakes (if desired), then white wine and fresh lemon juice.

Shell half to 3/4ths of the clams and add them to the sauce. Drain the cooked pasta and toss with the sauce, adding the fresh lemon zest and parsley, and salt and pepper as needed. Finish with another tablespoon or two of butter. Toss the remaining clams (in shell) and serve.

I made a garnish of parsley, lemon zest, a little bread crumb, and extra virgin olive oil to go on top, but I’d probably skip it next time. It didn’t need it.

Linguine with Fresh Clams

1/2 lb linguine

2 dozen fresh clams in the shell

1 large shallot, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 lemons, zested and juiced

2 TB fresh parsley, chopped fine

1/2 tsp red pepper flake (optional)

1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)

4 TB unsalted butter

4 TB olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Steam clams in a small amount of water until just cooked, drain, and set aside. Melt 2 TB butter and 2TB olive oil over medium high heat. Sautee shallots and garlic until just browned. Add red chili flake if desired. Add lemon juice and white wine, stir to combine. Toss in pasta and parsley. Remove clams from shells (leave a few in for presentation) and add to pasta. Add remaining butter and olive oil, heat through and serve.

Orzo and Peas in Basil Lemon Cream Sauce

Have I ever told you I’m a horrible gardener? Like, awful. I go for weeks without mowing the lawn. I’m excellent at ignoring weeds. I’ve killed cacti, for crying out loud. When it comes to planting a summer vegetable garden, no matter how hard I try to make a decent go of it, halfway through July everything just sort of…meh. Withers, dies, stops growing. You name it. So when people in my life offer home-grown produce, I jump on that train faster than you can say, “Free Vegetables”.

I was trying to think of something quippy there but it’s late, and I’m tired.

Anyway, a coworker offered me a small bag of peas today, which I gladly took. I usually eat them raw in the pod (extra fiber!), but on the way home today I was thinking about making them with dinner and I came up with this. It’s super simple, you can throw it together while everything else is in the oven (or on the grill), and super tasty.

This was only about 3/4 cup of fresh peas. I would have liked at least a full cup, if not a cup and a half to the half pound of pasta I had. If you don’t have fresh peas, you can absolutely use frozen, just toss them in the pasta when making the sauce as opposed to boiling them with the pasta.

Julienne (or chiffonnade) of basil. This was four large leaves, I only needed two.

Lemon zest. Best smell. Just use the zest, not the juice, or you’ll end up with pasta with curdled cream, which, ick.

See? Simple. Tasty.

And also kind of pretty.

Orzo and Peas with Basil Lemon Cream Sauce

1/2 lb orzo pasta

1-1 1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) peas

2 leaves basil, julienned

2 tsp fresh lemon zest

3 TB butter

2 TB flour

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Shell fresh peas. Place a pot of water on to boil. Salt water, add orzo, and cook according to package directions. Add peas to boiling pasta with 2-3 minutes left and drain.

2. Melt butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add flour and stir, creating a light loose roux. Add pasta, peas, and cream to the pan and stir, allowing the sauce to thicken.

3. Add basil & lemon to the pasta, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Enjoy! And if you have any home grown produce you’re looking to get rid of this summer? I’m your girl.