Chef Joel & Jenn: Creamy Lumaca Rigata Pasta

As you've probably read in my last Chef Joel & Jenn post, we've started a subscription at Blue Apron. This first batch of meals (3 in total) only cost us $20 (normally $60) to give us a sense if it's a service we like. After tonight's meal, the Lumaca Rigata Pasta, I think we might be converts. 

Tonight's meal prep was accelerated by the fact that I had the goal of finishing the pasta by 6 PM so I could tune into the Sony Press Conference at E3 2017. I began prepping at 5 PM, while Jenn made her way home from work. Very similar to the last meal (Seared Steaks & Salsa Verde), there was not a shortage of prep. The part I have the most trouble with is finely chopping anything. We have a chopping device that chops stuff but nowhere near as fine as these recipes call for.

Once I had prepped the spinach, asparagus, and garlic it was time to get cooking. First, it was quickly cooking the asparagus and blanch it. That was a new technique for me but it meant cooking the asparagus for a couple of minutes and taking them off of the heat and into a bowl of ice water. It's a technique that keeps the asparagus nice and crispy and worked like a charm. 

After that was handled it was time to drop the pasta in the boiling water (something I have a ton of experience in) and begin putting together the sauce. The one challenge with this recipe was that it was a lot of moving parts all at once. So had my sous chef not arrived right as I was beginning to cook I was going to mess something up. Once the pasta was done cooking it was time to put the pasta in the pan with the sauce and add back in the asparagus. Once it was all combined we put it in our pasta bowls and topped it off with goat cheese and basil leaves. 

Although we didn't hit my hopeful 6 PM timeframe (it was closer to 6:15 PM) I was able to catch the start of the conference as well as enjoy an incredible meal with some wine that opened for our first meal the day before. The amount of flavor that came from this pasta put my own attempts to shame. There was a ton of flavor, even a little spice, and goat cheese that perfectly balanced the pasta. It was out of this world and if Blue Apron ever offers it again, I know Jenn and I will absolutely order it. 


Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2lb of Lumaca Rigata Pasta
  • 6 oz. Spinach
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Bunch of Asparagus
  • 1 Bunch of Basil
  • 2 Tbsp of Butter
  • 2 Tbsp of Goat Cheese
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp of Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste. 

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut off and discard the tough, woody stem ends of the asparagus; cut into ½-inch pieces on an angle, leaving the pointed tips intact. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Roughly chop the spinach.
  • Fill a medium bowl with ice water; add a pinch of salt. Set aside. To the pot of boiling water, add the asparagus and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until bright green and slightly softened. Leaving the pot of water boiling, using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer the cooked asparagus to the bowl of ice water. Let stand until cool; drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
  • While the asparagus cools, add the pasta to the same pot of boiling water and cook 9 to 11 minutes, or until just shy of al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly.
  • While the pasta cooks, in a bowl, combine the goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • While the pasta continues to cook, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and as much of the red pepper flakes as you'd like, depending on how spicy you'd like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes, or until dark red and fragrant. Turn off the heat.
  • Add the spinach and half the reserved pasta cooking water to the pan of cooked aromatics; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. Add the cooked pasta, shocked asparagus, and butter. Cook, stirring vigorously, 1 to 2 minutes, or until coated and thoroughly combined. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Turn off the heat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pick the basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Divide the finished pasta between 2 dishes. Top with the seasoned goat cheese. Garnish with the parmesan cheese and basil leaves (tearing just before adding). Enjoy!

Recipe Source: Blue Apron