Fresh pasta has changed my life. One day, I decided to wander into that section of the market. You know, the spot with all the fresh pasta, italian meats and cheeses. I was curious about trying fresh pasta. I cooked with it once, and I have not turned back. The way I see it, if you visit the grocery store once a week, and you plan your meals (*ahem….you know…the way I advised you to…), there is no need to store a gazillion boxes of dry pasta in your pantry. Not that there’s anything totally wrong with dry pasta. I mean, I used it without fail until I saw the light. And I still keep a box or two in case I’m ever in a jam. But, now that I know better…you get the idea.
While in the fresh pasta section, I recently came across this really wide, flat pasta called pappardelle. One of the workers in the section saw me pick it up. He says to me, “That pasta really knows how to hold a sauce.”
You know what? He was right. Pappardelle is a dense flat pasta that can can stand up to the heaviest of sauces. It’s filling enough to use in vegetarian dishes. At the same time, it holds its own next to a decadent sauce like this vodka sauce we’re about to make.
To start, peel and devein some large shrimp. Vodka sauce can be pretty rich so you don’t want to pick shrimp that will disappear into the background. Large shrimp pack just enough punch. Be sure to dry them well so they will brown nicely. Set them aside. This is a good time to start boiling salted water for the pasta too.
You’ll also want to gather all of the remaining cast members for this feature. Can you guess what’s missing? I will give you a hint…it’s the star of the show. Don’t judge me, I got all excited about taking the picture and forgot to grab it.
Add finely diced onions and minced garlic to a pan of oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until very soft and translucent. They should almost dissolve. Now add heavy cream, tomato puree (tomato sauce works fine too), butter, oregano and basil. Stir the mixture together and reduce the heat to low. Let that simmer for about 15 minutes or until it’s nice and thick.
In typical Hollywood fashion, the star shows up late. It’s time to add the vodka. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes more. Season it with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to your liking.
While the sauce is simmering to perfection, start sautéing your shrimp. Add butter to a hot pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, season it with salt and pepper. Saute the shrimp until opaque and deliciously golden brown, about 6 minutes. If your water is boiling, add the pasta. Fresh pasta cooks really fast. It will take about as long as the shrimp, 6-7 minutes. Don’t over cook it!
Add the cooked shrimp to the sauce and cook it for 5 minutes more to blend the flavors. Serve it over that amazing pasta.