Pasta with chipotle cream sauce, caramelized onions, roasted red pepper, corn and goat cheese

I’m back! No, it’s not a joke that the first entry I decided to add in years happens to be on April Fool’s Day. With a bit of extra time on my hands these days, I figured I could put some effort into adding a few new recipes.

Yesterday was Terry’s birthday, so I made this for her dinner. I recently had this at The Westin Tampa’s restaurant and was blown away with the first bite. The ingredients were so intriguing and nothing I have ever thought to put together. And yes, a pink sauce?! Trust me, it works.

Westin-version
The original, from The Westin

Since I didn’t have a recipe, I had to recreate it on my own so the portions are mostly guesses but it seemed to work well. You can scale up or down on any ingredient according to your taste.

 

The dish I had was served with shrimp, so you could amp this up a bit by adding that, but honestly, it doesn’t need it. The dish is good without it!

Since I’m out of practice on building a narrative, I’ll get right to the good stuff – ingredients and instructions!

1c vermouth
2 1/2 c heavy cream
4-5 garlic cloves, smashed
Chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tbsp cumin
1 whole red pepper, roasted
Olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced thinly and caramelized
2 tbs butter
1 c charred corn (all I had was frozen regular corn, but this will be better once corn is in season and we can char it on the grill)
2 oz goat cheese crumbles
Salt
White pepper (black pepper is good if that’s all you have)
1 lb penne or bow tie pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water
Cilantro for garnish

Start with the onions and pepper – those can be done well ahead of time – even the day before!

To caramelize the onion:

  • Slice it thinly. Heat a 12” or larger skillet over medium heat and add butter to the pan.
  • Coat the pan with butter and drop 1/3 of onions into the pan. You want to add the onions in batches otherwise it will be tricky to stir them until they’re cooked down a bit.
  • Continue adding onions 1-2 minutes apart until all onions are in the pan.
  • Add a generous pinch of salt to the pan
  • Stir the onions every few minutes until they start to brown.
  • This process can take as much as 45 minutes, so be patient
  • Onions are done when they are deep golden and have browned edges

To roast the pepper:

  • Heat oven to 450
  • Slice off the top and cut the pepper in half lengthwise, remove seeds and white membrane
  • Place halves face down on a baking sheet and coat lightly with olive oil
  • Roast for 25-30 minutes until skin is blistered and peeling back from the pepper
  • Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let stand 10-12 minutes until cool enough to handle
  • Remove the skin from the peppers and cut into pieces roughly 1/2 inch wide x 1 inch in length

For the sauce:

  • Heat the vermouth in a large skillet until reduced by half (use a skillet large enough to hold the pasta once it’s been added)
  • Add the smashed garlic and stir until fragrant
  • Add the cream to the pan
  • Once the cream has started to bubble lightly, add the cumin, onions, corn and peppers
  • Continue to stir the sauce until it thickens slightly
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Taste, taste, taste! Always taste as you go when you’re building up flavors in a sauce
  • Add the adobo sauce from the chipotles a little at a time until you get to the desired heat level
  • When pasta is done, add it to the pan (add a little at time – you may not need the whole pound. I had about a cup leftover.)
  • Stir until pasta is well coated, add reserved pasta water a little at a time until sauce is slightly loose – you don’t want it to be too watery.
  • Add goat cheese to sauce
  • Continue to stir until pasta and goat cheese are well combined

While the sauce is reducing, drop the pasta and cook 1-2 minutes LESS than according to package instructions. It will finish cooking in the sauce. Don’t forget to extract 1 cup pasta water – you will need it to finish the sauce.

Serve in a bowl, garnish with cilantro.

IMG_3181
Getting the sauce going with the spices, onions, corn and peppers
IMG_3185
After adding the adobo sauce – yes, it’s pink, and it’s delicious!