For someone who doesn’t love pasta, posting two pasta dishes in a row seems a bit odd. What can I say? I’ve been craving dishes like these: hearty bowls of steaming pasta that are full of huge flavors…yes, more comfort food. And they’ve been hitting the spot like nothing else could.
Normally, by the time I get to the bottom of a bowl of spaghetti, I’m bored with it. For me, pasta dishes need to have that extra something special to really stand out. Enter bacon and blue cheese. Both ingredients have a strong presence, ready to boost the flavor of any dish they go into. And boost they did.
I don’t usually give myself big pats on the back when it comes to cooking. I’m my own harshest critic and feel like a dish could always be tweaked this way or that way to make it just a little bit better. But it was all I could do not to get up from the table and dance around the room when I was eating this. I may have even exclaimed a few happy expletives, but I’ll leave those to your imagination.
Without further ado, let me introduce, in my opinion, the best pasta dish to come out of my kitchen. I know the name is a bit lengthy, but really, I couldn’t name it what Andy suggested which was “Pure Goodness,” although it would have been completely accurate.
Angel Hair Pasta with White Wine Cream Sauce, Shrimp, Bacon and Blue Cheese
4 strips of bacon, cut into lardoons
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
6 ounces angel hair pasta
blue cheese crumbles, to taste
4-6 large basil leaves, chopped
In a heavy saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour out all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan. Add shallots to bacon fat, cooking over medium heat until softened and browning slightly, then add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Place shrimp in pan in a single layer and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, depending on size of shrimp. When almost cooked through, remove from pan and reserve.
To the shallots, add wine, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce for 5 minutes. Pour in cream and return to a simmer. Reduce 8 more minutes. Whisk cubes of butter into sauce, a few at a time, incorporating it before adding more. Repeat until all butter is incorporated into sauce. Allow sauce to simmer to desired thickness. When ready to serve, add shrimp back into sauce and heat through to finish cooking.
Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
Spoon sauce over pasta and shrimp. Top with bacon, blue cheese and basil.
(For those who aren’t blue cheese fans, this is just as good without it.)
Seriously, just go make this. You’ll be glad you did. It’s so rich (a cup of cream and half a stick of butter tends to do that to a dish!) and the flavors are just fantastic together. When you get a bite of shrimp, bacon and basil, it is a truly wonderful thing. I could sing the praises of this one all day long, but you’d probably get tired after another paragraph…
I was asked to create a recipe as part of Smart & Final’s month-long campaign to promote their First Street brand. I was thrilled to be given bacon and blue cheese as the two First Street ingredients to use in my dish. These are dream ingredients to me and I had tons of ideas on how to use them. Perhaps those dishes will make an appearance another time.
If you’d like to enter to win a First Street VIP bag of groceries and a $50 Smart & Final gift card, just go “like” their Facebook page and register to win. They’re giving away bags every week through the end of May.
This post has been compensated by Collective Bias. All opinions are my own.