Acini Di Pepe in Adobo Cream | If you ever find yourself crashing weddings in the Italian countryside, you may stumble upon this little pasta – the acini di pepe. It is usually found in wedding soups since it’s so tiny and delicious. In fact, it’s such a popular pasta it also makes an appearance in Middle Eastern cuisine! But we wanted an American version – a version that knocked the pants off our flavor buds and made us the leader of the pasta free world. This is it.
In this recipe, we kick up our acini with some of our southwestern favorites – adobo, tomatillo and queso fresco. But we don’t stop there. We heat things up with a dollop of horseradish, then cool her all down with a lemon cream sauce finished with chives from the garden. Spicy, cheesy pasta. Just the way we like it.
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- Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Acini Di Pepe Pasta - 7 ounces (about ¾ cup)
- Cream - 1 cup
- Queso Fresco - ¾ cup, finely grated
- Sauvignon Blanc - 2 tablespoons
- Tomatillos - ¾ cup (about 2), fileted, small dice
- Shallot - ¾ cup, finely minced
- Garlic - 3 cloves, finely minced
- Tomato Paste - 2 tablespoons
- Prepared Horseradish - 1 tablespoon
- Adobo Sauce - 1½ teaspoons (from chipotle can)
- Lemon Juice - 1 teaspoon
- Chives - ⅓ cup, thinly sliced
- White Pepper - ¼ teaspoon
- Salt - 1½ teaspoons
- Peel the husks off the tomatillos.
- Cut up your shallot and garlic.
- Get all your other ingredients together.
- Fill both saucepans with water and bring them to a boil over high heat.
- Drop the tomatillos into one, lower the heat to medium-high, and boil them until they turn a light pale green - about 10 minutes.
- To the other saucepan, give it a huge pinch of salt, then pour in the Acini Di Pepe.
- Cook the pasta until it's al dente - about 9 minutes. Strain and return the pasta to the same empty saucepan. Keep it in a warm place.
- Set the tomatillos on your cutting board and let them cool. Then filet them (i.e. cut out the seeds) and cut the flesh into a small dice.
- Now go ahead and toss 1 tablespoon of the butter into the cast-iron over medium heat and let it get hot.
- Toss in the tomatillos, shallot and a pinch of the salt. Give it a stir and saute until the shallots are softened - about 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and garlic, another small pinch of the salt, and stir it again.
- Cook for just 1 more minute then deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring up any fond on the bottom of the pan.
- Once all the wine is reduced, pour in the cream , adobo sauce and lemon juice. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the cream for 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Now take the cast-iron off the heat and stir in the last tablespoon of butter, horseradish, white pepper and remaining salt.
- Season to taste and you've got one killer cream sauce!
- Slice your chives and toss them into the pasta saucepan.
- Now go ahead and pour the sauce slowly over the pasta while stirring, a little at a time, until it's nice and creamy (you should use almost all of the sauce).
- Give it a taste and season again if it needs it.
- Spoon a portion of pasta into a warm serving bowl.
- Grate a little of the queso fresco over the top.
- Garnish with extra chives and you've done it!
* You can add a touch of olive oil to the cooked pasta to keep it from sticking.
* Don't substitute milk for the cream or else your sauce will curdle!
* Feel free to obviously use this sauce with any other pasta. It's killer.
* And we always get our adobo sauce from one of those little cans of chiptole peppers.
* Did you know Acini Di Pepe means "grains of pepper" in Italian?
If you’ve read this far, then you need to check out Irish Mac & Cheese and Pub Sauce.
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