Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A twirl of the fork


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

Serves 4

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.

Mmmmm...bacon

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.

39 comments:

  1. Yum, yum, and yum again! I would eat this up in no time flat...I love big flavors, and this recipe fits the bill!!

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    Replies
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  2. Pretty hard to resist this recipe; everything we love is included, I've been looking for something special to mkae with shrimps;Wow!
    Rita

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  3. Oooohhh, bacon, cream AND pasta? Pure bliss!

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  4. THAT is a pasta dish. Wow you have lots of great flavors going on there. It looks fabulous and so filling! Delicious!

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  5. Bacon? Blue cheese? Shrimp? Pasta? I am LOVING this dish!

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  6. I love all the things you put in this dish!!! And bacon!! It must be delicious!

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  7. Yum!!! This looks amazing! I even have left over cream in the fridge to use!

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  8. I'm always in for a tasty plate of pasta. This sounds and looks so flavorful - great job!

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  9. Leave off the blue cheese? No way! Double my portion please. This does look extraordinary. I love the creaminess of the pasta with the wonderfully crisp bacon then the final pow of the tart blue cheese. I'm hooked. You have done First Street proud.

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  10. I don't even like shrimp...but I'd put that aside for a bite of this! yum!

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  11. Oh boy, this is such mouthwatering pasta. Wish that this is my lunch. :o) Thanks for sharing. Hope you're enjoying your day.
    Blessings, Kristy

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  12. Blue cheese, bacon and shrimp....with PASTA! Oh heavenly day! : )

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  13. This looks gorgeous and so delicious!! I saved this recipe and can't wait to try this myself! :)

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  14. Fabulous, Karen! So many of my favorite flavors in one dish :)

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  15. Bacon, blue cheese, and heavy cream... Count me in! This dish looks fabulous!

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  16. I'm in love! I'm not a big pasta girl either...but yes when you do it...you have to do it right! This dish has everything I love! Restaurant quality 101%! Beautiful!

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  17. This looks great, I love white wine cream sauces on pasta! I'll have to try it without the blue cheese though since my stomach cant handle it.

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  18. I am a big pasta fan! This looks amazing. I am going to have to give it try minus the bleu cheese. Not a fan but I bet it would taste delicious with feta instead:)

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  19. Mmmm... I love how much flavor bacon adds to food. This pasta looks so good!

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  20. This seriously looks amazing.

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  21. Congratulations on Top 9 Karen! This is a wonderful pasta! I've never added blue cheese and I'm definitely curious. I will be a nice combination with bacon for sure, so I can't wait to try this. Keeping this recipe for our weeknight pasta day. :-) Thanks and congrats again!

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  22. Beautiful, beautiful. I do not know what to say. This is a perfect!

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  23. This is heavenly..... I must make some for my husband! Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Man o man! Everything in this dish is divine and your photos are gorgeous. I definitely want to give this dish a try!

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  25. I am amazed by the innovative mind you have. Great recipe and great photographs!

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  26. This looks amazing! It's like all my favorite things in one bowl :)

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  27. I couldn't agree more about normal pasta being boring! I thought I was the only one! I usually mix my pasta with a salad idea so there's an adventure of flavor in each bite. I'm obsessed, I know. But, I love pasta and this looks absolutely divine. Who doesn't love pasta. Pfft. Carb haters are for the birds.

    Great post!

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  28. Beautiful pasta, and full of flavors, I love the combination of shrimps and bacon...and the pictures are awesome. Hope you are having a great week Karen :-)

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  29. You had me at bacon and blue cheese! Loving the sound of this pasta...I think this will have to move to the top of my 'need-to-make list'. Thanks for a great post!

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  30. Wow, your pasta meal looks so delicious! With all the bacon and my favourite, shrimp, I could have this for lunch and dinner! Beautiful photos!
    Have a lovely weekend, Karen!

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  31. I'm not crazy about pasta either, but sometimes I want to have it all the time! I think it's my body craving some good carbs! OR, it's when I see a delicious recipe such as the one above with all those beautiful fixins... I want this now! My tummy is rumbling.

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  32. we have been on a pasta kick lately..wow this look amazing!! thanks for a great recipe!
    sweetlife

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  33. This looks so delicious. Where is my fork? I could just dig into it right now.

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  34. I was cleaning out my kitchen today. Found and abundance of shrimp in the freezer and blue cheese in the fridge. Basil has taken over my garden, so I was delighted to find your recipe this afternoon. Made this for dinner tonight, and it was OH SO GOOD! Thanks for sharing! I will definitely make this again!

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  35. AND MORE BACON... you are my new favorite blogger!!!

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  36. Delicious! I just made it and love everything about it. Thanks for the inspiration.

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