Penne in almond sauce. Giada, when you made it, it seemed so delicious. So creamy and thick and flavourful, just as you said. And yet… well.
So, I saw Giada make this pasta a few weeks ago, and thus decided I would make it. I picked up the ingredients, read through the instructions, and got started. Unfortunately, the results were not anything that my sister, the boyfriend, or I enjoyed. On the upside, the other two recipients of it greatly enjoyed it… so though I was initially inclined to put this one in the ‘accident’ category, I am unable to do so. The boyfriend suggests ‘partial success’… hmm.
Tips for following this recipe (linked above):
- I noted many a complaint regarding the grainy texture of the sauce on the comments at food network. To rectify this, I first put the almond slivers in a plastic ziploc, onto a wooden cutting board, and beat it with a rolling pin for 2-3 minutes. I then blended the crushed slivers until a meal formed. You can them pour the almond meal into the cream to start making the sauce, but blending them will curb the grainy texture.
- I overcooked the sauce and overtly reduced it. When hot, you really can’t see the effects of the reduction too much, but trust that it’s reducing. Mine ended up being so thick it just stuck to the pasta as a sort of coating- not a sauce. You can go over a bit in terms of time on the heat, but not too much- unless you’re interested in it not being remotely liquid.
- Probably due to my over-reducing, the almond taste intensified to a point that I wasn’t too fond of. Despite loving almonds, there was something about it that set me off. Then again, about half of the people who ate it loved it; about half didn’t care for it.
- Save some of the pasta water to add in afterwards- it’ll help in thinning out the sauce. I took this one for granted and assumed that in a cream sauce it would be unnecessary, but it really would have been very helpful.
- I used Kraft (the green can) parmesan for this as I knew it would take quite a bit of cheese and I wasn’t of a mind to use my good cheese for it. I think this, too, was a mistake- the Kraft cheese (which is not 100% natural parm, in many cases) has a very, very strong smell and taste… use domestic grated from a bulk section if you can, and if not, grate your own. This seems to be one of those cases where it really and truly makes a difference!
Clearly this one’s a hit and miss depending on your tastes. It could go well with other vegetables, too. The peas were very enjoyable, but broccoli or another green veggie could probably go nicely.
Unfortunately, I accidentally lost the pictures I had of this one when in production, so all I have are ‘finished product’ pictures… my apologies!