Sunday, April 24, 2016

Crème fraîche linguine with white wine and shallots

Some images of food speak to our primal instincts. The image of bread is invariably one of them. A crusty, plump loaf is always tempting even when you're full. For meat eaters, a juicy steak can never be resisted. A dish of glistening, rich pasta is yet another one; it can evoke so many feelings and desires that it’s impossible not to crave it or want to have it right at the moment you see it.

This explains why so many people liked the photo of my panful of pasta that I posted a couple of weeks ago on instagram. So many people got excited by that image and were asking for the recipe even though I had not written one thing in the caption about the ingredients it contained. It wasn’t hard of course to figure out approximately what went in it, but isn’t it remarkable how people can react to an image of pasta?

So, I made the dish again and I’m posting the recipe so that each and every one of you out there who felt the need to jump into your screens when you saw my photo, can now go make it yourselves and enjoy it.

It is a linguine pasta with white wine and crème fraîche, some sautéed shallots in olive oil, lots and lots of Pecorino cheese, black pepper and a wisp of parsley to freshen things up.

It is light, tangy and sweet at the same time, with acidity from the wine and creaminess from the crème fraîche that when it mingles with the pasta water (which is key to this dish) it creates a creamy, silky sauce.

Tag me in your photos on instagram if you make this. Would love to see your versions of the dish.

By the way, Greek Orthodox Easter is just a week away and I have already started baking paschalina koulourakia (Greek Easter cookies) and tsoureki (Greek Easter sweet bread). If you want to make them too, you can follow my recipes:
Greek koulourakia (Greek Easter cookies)
Tsoureki Politiko (Greek Easter sweet bread)

Crème fraîche linguine with white wine and shallots

Add as much pasta water as needed to achieve a silky, creamy sauce. The crème fraîche alone is not enough; it needs to be kissed by the starchy water and emulsify to create a smooth sauce that will coat each and every strand of linguine in a delicate way.

Yield: enough for 2 very hungry people (or 3 people who, unlike us, eat reasonable amounts of pasta)

300 g dried linguine pasta
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots (about 120 g net weight), thinly sliced
¼ cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
140 g crème fraîche, full-fat
Freshly ground black pepper
A small handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Grated pecorino (or parmesan)

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil over high heat and add the linguine. Cook until al dente (firm but not very hard) or cook to your liking.

While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. You will need to add pasta water to it so keep that in mind.

In a wide sauté pan (one that will fit the pasta as well), add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the shallots and sauté until they soften, but don’t let them brown. Add the wine and using a wooden spoon, scrape any shallot bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan (this is called deglazing the pan) and cook the wine until it has almost evaporated. Add the crème fraîche, a little salt and black pepper and stir. Turn heat down to low and add some of the water that the pasta is boiling in, stirring with the wooden spoon, in order to loosen the sauce and to make it very smooth and creamy.

By now the linguine should be cooked. Using tongs, add the pasta to the sauté pan. You don’t need to strain the pasta because the pasta water is valuable and will help you adjust the consistency of the sauce, so it’s best if you add the past straight from the pot. Add a handful of grated pecorino and mix everything together with the tongs, gently, to coat the pasta with the sauce and emulsify the cheese into it. Add more pasta water, enough to achieve a creamy sauce. It should not be cloggy or clump together, but have a silky smooth consistency. Taste and add salt if needed. The cheese is already salty so most probably you won’t need salt but you never know.

Serve immediately in individual plates (or straight from the pan) topped with a good grinding of black pepper, some fresh parsley and more grated pecorino.

Secret: Sometimes I have leftovers of this. What I do is keep some of the pasta water and when I reheat the pasta in the pan, I add the water to make the sauce creamy again. That’s of course on the same day. I don’t keep pasta water for the next day even though I know some people do.


  1. This is our absolute favorite kind of pasta dish. There is nothing better. Nothing.

    There is a low fat crème fraîche?? That is wrong on so many levels.

    xx, David

  2. Your pasta with the addition of crème fraîche looks terrific. It must give it a nice rich tang.

  3. Hahaha, I love your observation of how people go gaga over certain food images. It's so true though. I have just had lunch and I am simply salivating over your pasta. It made me think though, what other food images do this to me? It's a fun game to play...