Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fusilli In Cream Sauce With Caramelized Onions, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Crushed Pink Peppercorns...

A few nights ago I was in the mood for pasta, but not just any kind of pasta. I wanted a rich and creamy white sauce, rather then olive oil, pesto, or marinara and I wanted it to be kind of cheesy. Whenever I think of cream sauce I think of Alfredo, but that’s not really what I wanted. I wanted something ‘cleaner’ if that makes sense, that was just a tad sweet, with just a touch of delicious cheesy goodness.

White Miso, Nutritional Yeast and Coconut Milk immediately sprung to mind. Now you may have done a double take on the words coconut milk, but trust me on this. The best, richest, and creamiest sauces I’ve made yet for pasta whether they be for mac and cheese, Alfredo or other have all been made with coconut milk. I don’t know what it is about coconut milk but it works so much better then any other non-dairy milk or cream that I’ve tried for that rich flavor and thick texture. I know you might be skeptical but it’s true, and you may be asking yourself ‘doesn’t it make what you’re cooking taste like coconut’ and the answer is no. I find that if you don’t add sugar into your coconut milk, and use savory seasonings there isn’t any coconut flavor at all. I know it sounds crazy right? And I get your reluctance, because I was a total skeptic too when I first happened upon this amazing culinary discovery, but then I tried my first coconut milk mac and cheese and nearly lost my mind! I really is that good, so phenomenal in fact that coconut milk has since become my ‘go-to’ for cream sauce as well as a few other things.

As for the White miso and the Nutritional Yeast, it’s only natural they sprung to mind for this recipe considering the cheesy taste they impart to dishes. People think I’m a little crazy for thinking that White Miso has a cheese like flavor, but I don’t know, that’s what I taste. Something about the fermentation I think gives it a quality similar to aged cheeses. It has that sharp, salty full-bodied flavor you -or at least I - associate with a rich aged cheddar. So whenever I want to make something cheesy White Miso is my ‘go-to.’ Darker Miso, such as red or brown doesn’t really have the same flavor or quality. It’s more salty and bitter to me rather then cheese like so I wouldn’t recommend using them for this. Stick to white miso, or perhaps yellow. As for the Nooch. Since I’m not a big fan of nutritional yeast I played it kind of conservative here, but if you like the taste of nooch then by all means feel free to add in more. I went with the 1/4 cup but think a 1/3 cup would be just as good too, but if you really want to heighten the flavor you could go up to a ½ cup.

Of course once I had the sauce all figured out there was still the matter of what else to put in the pasta. After some careful consideration I decided to go with red onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh parsley and pink peppercorns. Since the pasta is a tan color, and the sauce is so white I wanted to include ingredients that would really stand out and pop with brightness when they came together in my bowl. Red onion, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley are perfect for that, and the pink peppercorns give the dish a cute pink dusting and interesting flavor.

However Pink Peppercorns definitely have a distinct and unique flavor, they’re not hot, but rather have a delicate almost fruity flavor. For some they may be an acquired taste, so if they’re not your cup of tea so to speak, or you’re unable to find them then by all means leave them out and add in white pepper or even black pepper instead. I don’t think the dish will suffer any from their absence, and in fact I think white pepper might give it another distinctive component. The pink peppercorns do lend a hint of sophistication though, and I do really enjoy them.

Now, before we get started I do want to say that there are a couple of steps to this recipe, but if you plan it well it can all come together rather quickly, so don’t feel intimidated!

Fusilli In Cream Sauce With Caramelized Onions, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Crushed Pink Peppercorns

1 lb Whole Wheat or Gluten-Free Fusilli

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Red Onion
8 Cloves Garlic minced
½-1 C Sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed)

3/4 C Raw Cashews
½ C water
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
3-5 Tbsp Mellow White Miso

1 15oz Can Coconut Milk (not light)
½ tsp Smoked Paprika (or to taste)
½ tsp rubbed Sage (or to taste)
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg (or to taste)
1/4-1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast
½ Bunch Fresh Parsley Finely Minced
*** ½-1 Tbsp Pink Peppercorns (crushed or ground with a mortar and pestle) (Optional)

- Bring a pot of water to boil and cook Fusilli as directed by the package. When cooked drain, and return to pot.

- Meanwhile, place oil in pan or pot, over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute over medium-high heat for five minutes. Lower to medium and saute another five minutes. Add in garlic and reduce heat to medium-low. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes. Cover and let saute until onions become very soft and light golden brown. Roughly another ten minutes. Make sure to stir every once in a while so the onions and garlic don’t stick. Add a little water If they do.

- When onions are caramelized to your liking transfer them to a plate or bowl and set aside.

- While onions are caramelizing you can blend the cashews, water, lemon juice, and miso in a highspeed blender on high for 30-60 seconds until super smooth and creamy. Taste for flavor and adjust miso as needed.

- Next begin your sauce. Poor coconut milk into medium pot. Add the cashew-miso mixture from your blender making sure to scrape out as much as possible, and whisk until combined. Whisk in Nutritional Yeast, smoked paprika, sage and nutmeg and taste for flavor. Adjust as needed. Let simmer on the stove for roughly ten minutes. Add in crushed pink peppercorns and minced parsley.

- Add your caramelized onion mixture into the pot with your fusilli, then pour in your cream sauce. Mix until everything is thoroughly combined and then serve garnished with a little extra parsley and crushed pink peppercorn if desired.

*** Note - Soy-Free if using Chickpea Miso*** 

1 comment:

  1. I forgot if I liked this or not but I'm assuming I did since it was pasta. haha It does look delicious, however! Now, I want to try it again just based on the photos. ;) - M