A grown-up rendition of my Mother’s pasta
My Mother’s cooking generally lacked variety, but there are a few things she made during my childhood that I look back upon fondly; one of which was her Sour Cream Pasta.
The gist of Sour Cream Pasta is pretty much just cooking some tri-color rotini and tossing it in sour cream and Parmesan cheese. The trick to it is finding the right ratio of ingredients (too little sour cream makes it bland, too much makes it too tangy, and too much Parmesan ruins the texture), and to toss everything in the still-hot pot so it gets properly creamy.
I recently had some goat cheese to use up, and it occurred to me it could be used to make a revamped version of sour cream pasta. Here is my revamped version:
Creamy pasta (single serving):
2 oz spiral pasta*
1/3 cup organic frozen peas**
1 oz nice goat cheese (chèvre)
1-2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese***
6 grinder turns of pepper
1. Liberally salt a pot of boiling water and toss in your pasta.
2. Measure out your cheese; I just put a bowl on my food scale, zero it, and squeeze the ounce of goat cheese into the bowl. Then I eyeball the Parmesan cheese and grate the pepper.
3. Halfway through the cook time, toss the peas in with the pasta; this way, they should just finish cooking when the pasta is done.
4. When the pasta is al dente, strain it and pour it back into the hot pot. Dump in the cheese mix and stir until creamy. Add more pepper to taste. Fun fact: sour cream pasta was the ONLY thing I would ever eat with pepper on it as a child. You could also get fancy and use a pepper spice mix seasoning, but I would stay away from one containing salt (the salt won’t dissolve, also both chèvre and Parmesan are generally plenty salty)
Lazy variation? I frequently use a small pot for this and don’t want to get the pot fully dirty, so I will dump the strained pasta and peas into my bowl of cheese/pepper and leave it covered for 2-3 minutes so the heat diffuses into the cheese, and then stir the pasta in the bowl until it’s coated. The results are slightly less creamy, because the bowl won’t have the residual heat the pot would have, but it’s still a great way to limit your meal to one dirty dish. The pasta in my photo was lazy method.
*e.g.: rotini, rotelle, or gemelli (pictured)
**Cascadian Farms sweet peas are hands down the best frozen peas I’ve found anywhere. Frozen peas are a staple in my freezer, because it’s an easy way to work something green into even the quickest and laziest of meals. I frequently use them in pasta dishes and omelettes.
***I recommend freshly grated. I used to buy it buy the block and chop it in my food processor, but my co-op sells some pretty good freshly grated parm in decanted bulk containers in the refrigerated cheese section that I buy for convenience. Just don’t get something like Kraft (or other canned stuff), because it’s not cheese and therefore doesn’t melt or crisp.
Disclaimer for vegetarians: please be aware that many goat cheeses and parmesans (especially ones from Italy), are made using animal rennet, which is a digestive enzyme taken from the stomach of calves used in the cheese making process. I try to avoid animal rennet cheeses, but I will still eat them. I believe Organic Valley’s parm uses vegetable rennet, not animal, but the ingredients lists on most of your better cheeses will disclose what type of rennet is used.