When I come across a recipe that I really want to try, I usually follow it to the letter so that I have an idea of how it should work, and then as soon as I'm done eating it, I am already coming up with ways to alter it. In this case, I can't say that I can come up with a single improvement.
The other day, I bummed a copy of Edible Portland (they're free in grocery stores around town) off my buddy so I could check out a recipe, and instead of making the one I'd planned to, I stumbled across this one instead. It requires prepping a day ahead, but since I plan my meals in advance, it wasn't a problem.
From Edible Portland (adapted from Cathy Whims, Chef/Owner, Nostrana)
2 cups whole milk yogurt
extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 lb fettuccine
2 cups fresh herbs (a mixture of chervil, basil, parsley, chives, and fennel frond) roughly chopped
2 oz Proscuitto di Parma, thinly sliced (optional)
1 bunch green onions
1 cup grated pecorino
1. The day before, fold a long piece of cheesecloth in fourths. Spoon yogurt into its center and tie the bundle to the center of a long, wooden spoon. Lay the spoon across a bowl, so that the yogurt drains- whey will drip into the bowl below. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove yogurt from cheesecloth and bring to room temperature. Discard whey. (Editor's note: that business with the spoon sounds rather complicated. If you have one of those wire colander things, you can just set the cheesecloth in it, then spoon the yogurt on top, then set it in a bowl. That's what I did.)
2. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onions, toss well and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the onions turn creamy and golden brown. Turn heat to low if onions darken too quickly. While cooking, add salt to taste, a little at a time. The onions can be caramelized in advance and kept in the refrigerator. (That's what I did. It made dinner prep go a lot smoother.)
3. Bring a six-quart pot of water to a boil. Season with sea salt- enough so that the water tastes like seawater. Drop in pasta. Cook until al dente and drain, reserving a half-cup of water. (Whoops, I just realized I used a whole cup. Oh well.)
4. Place thickened yogurt in a large bowl and whisk with the reserved hot water. Toss pasta with yogurt until coated. Add caramelized onions, herbs, proscuitto, and green onions. Season with salt & pepper and toss well.
5. Place pasta in a warm serving bowl. Garnish with pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve.
(Makes 6 servings.)
Woo! The only thing I'd do differently next time is cut the recipe in half for my own little family. We were lucky to have a dinner guest this evening, or we'd surely have had a ridiculous amount of leftovers (though there's still a good sized portion sitting in my fridge right now). The tanginess of the yogurt was delicious, the caramelized onions gave the whole dish a sweet and savory touch, and the fresh herbs were delightful, of course. I loved that it had the weight and feel of a nice thick alfredo sauce, but without making me feel like total crap after I was done eating it. I didn't have any proscuitto or bacon or anything like that on hand, but next time I make this, I'm definitely going to throw some in. Because you know- meat.