Shrimp with Penne in Herbed Cream Sauce

For some reason our families make nearly identical holiday meals, usually featuring a juicy filet roast, twice-baked potatoes and green beans.  Matt and I love this dinner (and in fact got to enjoy it twice this month – once at my mom’s and again with Matt’s family!) but when it came time for us to host Christmas Eve dinner at our house we decided to do something completely different.

After an online search we settled on Shrimp and Penne in Herbed Cream Sauce and it was perfect!  The shrimp were tender and the combination of white wine, garlic, parsley and basil made the whole kitchen smell wonderful.  The pasta was nicely coated in a light cream sauce and the red pepper flakes provided just the right amount of heat.  To streamline the cooking process I prepped the herbs, tomatoes and cheese ahead of time so assembling this dish was actually pretty easy once our guests arrived.

In addition to the shrimp and penne we served fresh bruschetta, a tossed salad with Matt’s mom’s balsamic vinaigrette, and wedges of rosemary-studded Italian bread with butter.  We finished off the meal with a tray of Christmas cookies, chocolate-dipped coconut sticks, and white chocolate holiday bark.  Yum!

Shrimp and Penne in Herbed Cream Sauce (iPhone photo)

Shrimp with Penne in Herbed Cream Sauce  (from Giada De Laurentiis)
serves 4-5; we doubled this to serve 7 and had enough leftovers for dinner a few days later

You will need…
1 pound Penne Pasta
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves Garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 – 15 oz. can Whole Tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup Basil Leaves, chopped
1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup White Wine (we used a Chardonnay)
1/3 cup Clam Juice
3/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water then drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.  Cook the shrimp for about 3 minutes until they are pink and cooked through.  Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the tomatoes, 1/4 cup basil, 1/4 cup parsley and the red pepper flakes to the skillet.  Cook for 2 minutes while stirring constantly, then add the wine, clam juice and cream.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Add about half of the Parmesan along with the shrimp, pasta and remaining basil and parsley.  Mix well until the pasta is coated and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and top with the remaining freshly grated Parmesan.  Serve with a wedge of Italian bread and a glass of white wine.

Shrimp with Penne in Herbed Cream Sauce

Baked Tortellini with Peas and Ham in Cream Sauce

Happy Easter!  We spent our holiday weekend eating delicious, rich meals including my mom’s asparagus strata, Matt’s sister’s homemade strawberry shortcakes, and our very own scalloped potatoes with artichoke hearts and fontina cheese.  We decided to keep the heavy food trend going today by using some leftover ham to make baked tortellini with peas and ham in a cream sauce.  I used this recipe from the Food Network as a guide but made some of my own changes such as lightening the sauce a bit with fat-free half and half, subbing in the Easter ham for prosciutto, and broiling the individual-sized entrees in the oven just before serving.

Baked Tortellini with Peas and Ham in Cream Sauce

You will need…
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of leftover ham (or you can use prosciutto), thinly sliced in 1″ strips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fat-free half and half
Approx. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Approx. 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup peas
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese (or Parmesan/Romano blend)
12 oz. Tortellini, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup reserved pasta liquid

Melt the butter in a dutch oven.  When butter is melted, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the ham and saute for an additional 4 minutes or until the ham starts to brown slightly.  Add the heavy cream, half and half, salt and pepper and stir.  Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until cream mixture is reduced by half.

After mixture is reduced, mix in the peas and cheese, then add the tortellini and reserved liquid.  Stir well to combine, then transfer tortellini into two small baking dishes.  Broil for 4-5 minutes until top begins to brown, then remove from oven and enjoy!