We wanted a sauce so that our cappellacci would stand out and look nice when we had them for dinner. We surely didn’t want to drown the things in a heavy red sauce after the effort needed to fill and shape them. But we didn’t want to go with the standard sage-butter sauce, or light wine sauce; we wanted something bright and colorful. And we found it. Well, at least the germ of an idea for it, and went from there.
As you know, we learned how to make cappellacci from Crossroads, by Tal Ronnen, Scot Jones, and Sarafina Magnussen, where we also saw a recipe for a bright, emerald-green, spinach sauce. That might be perfect, except we didn’t have spinach, but we did have bright green (albeit frozen) peas. Could we work with that? Of course. There were a few other things we were missing, but we went ahead and made our own version, anyway.
We prefer to use organic heavy cream because it’s nothing but cream, but, to be honest, we will buy non-organic heavy cream if the price difference is significant. While we don’t like the idea of diglycerides (what are those?) in our heavy cream, we balance what we want with what we want to pay, as does everyone, we imagine. We’d prefer fresh peas for this dish, but we almost never see fresh peas in the store, so we go with frozen. As an aside, peas are the only vegetable we buy frozen; the others just don’t taste that good.
Procedure in detail:
Blanch peas. With frozen peas, this really isn’t necessary, but it bothers us that the package says to heat the peas to 165°F for health safety. After all, they’ve already been cooked, but, apparently, something happens at the processing plant between cooking and freezing that might introduce germs, so we cook them. Since they’re already blanched, we just place the peas in a small saucepan along with 1/2 cup of water and place it over high heat. When it comes to a full rolling boil, drain immediately and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Cook onions. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to start adding flavor and draw out moisture, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent. Do not let them brown. Add the garlic and cook until nice and fragrant, about a minute more. Definitely do not let the garlic brown.
Add cream. Stir in the cream and nutmeg, reduce the heat to medium-low, and, stirring often, bring everything to a bare simmer. Don’t let the cream boil or it’ll separate. If you can, keep it at a bare simmer for about 5 minutes to cook some of the proteins in the cream and remove the raw cream taste.
Blend. Pour the mixture into a blender and add the peas. Blend until very smooth, remembering to vent the heated air from the blender so the lid doesn’t pop off, allowing the mixture to spew everywhere (most people only make that mistake once).
Serve. To serve, strain the sauce into bowls, place three of the Acorn Squash Cappellacci (Monday’s and Tuesday’ posts) in each bowl, and top with Maple Candied Squash Seeds (yesterday’s post). Or use the sauce with your favorite pasta.
We liked the color of this pea sauce, but the flavor was mild, maybe even a bit too mild for our cappellacci, which have a mild filling to begin with. It might be better with a bolder-flavored filled pasta, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t sop up every drop with some bread. It was good, but lacked that certain oomph, so four stars.