Creamy Tomato Parmesan Alfredo Linguine – Peas and prosciutto optional since the sauce is phenomenal on its own. However, it’s also really great with cooked, chopped bacon or seafood, like shrimp or crab. Try it with other pastas too, like,penne, fettuccine, bows, rotelli, spaghetti, etc.!
Yield: 5 servings
1 pound linguine (any other pasta is fine and fresh is ideal since sauces cling better to fresh pasta)
Set aside about 1 cup of the water the pasta was cooked in before you strain the water out of the pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 shallot, chopped finely
1 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) with liquid
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Red hot pepper flakes (the amount depending on how hot you like it)
1½ cups fresh or frozen peas (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
¼ lb sliced prosciutto (optional, but taste it before buying if using; you don’t want it too salty)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)
In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water plus a generous pinch plus plus of kosher salt to a boil (about 1 tablespoon per 2 quarts water, so 3 tablespoons in this case). Taste the water, it should be salty like the ocean.
While waiting for the water to boil, pour the can of tomatoes with juice into the work bowl of a food processor. DO NOT turn on the processor at full speed because you will end up with pink foam. Just pulse until you have a smooth puree. If you want a chunkier sauce, just dump the can of tomatoes and juice into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes with your impeccably clean hands.
Over medium heat, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep pan or skillet. Add the chopped garlic and chopped shallot to the oil. Saute until soft and translucent, then slowly pour in the pureed tomatoes and their juice. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, seasoning it with salt and pepper to taste as it simmers (go easy on the salt because of the cheese that will be added). If you’re using the red hot pepper flakes, add them now. Simmer until it reduces a bit about 10 to 15 minutes tops.
While the tomato sauce simmers, add the linguine to the boiling pot of water and cook until al dente (about 6 to 8 minutes, keep checking by biting into a strand). In the mean time, once the sauce has simmered for 10-15 minutes, stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter, then add the peas (if using) and let them cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on their size (fresh peas are bigger). Slowly pour the cream into the sauce, swirling the pan and stirring, then add the sliced prosciutto (if using), stirring to distribute it evenly.
Immediately strain the linguine, pouring some of the pasta water into a cup (about 1 cup) in case you need to initially thin the sauce once the cheese is added, then cook it down until the starch in the pasta water thickens it so it’s creamy. So, essentially, it thins the sauce, then thickens it in a good way, if that makes sense!
If your pan or skillet is big enough, dump all the linguine right into the sauce and toss, adding all the parmigiano-reggiano cheese at once and tossing over the heat until it coats the linguine. If your skillet or pan isn’t big enough, dump the pasta into a large bowl and pour the sauce and cheese on top of it, tossing until all the pasta is coated.
If the sauce is too thick once tossed with the linguine, add in some of the reserved pasta water,(in this situation, since it’s no longer cooking in the pan or pot, heat the pasta water in the microwave until very hot before adding it to the linguine in the bowl) which will at first loosen it, then bring it together in a creamy way (the starch in the water) as you toss it.
Top with the chopped parsley (if using), some more fresh ground pepper, if needed, and serve immediately, passing extra Parmigiano-Reggiano or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.