That being said, sometimes I have to substitute just like everyone else.
I wanted to make shrimp ravioli/agnolotti with a cream based tomato sauce but I didn't have any heavy cream, only milk. I really didn't want to drag the kids to the store for one thing so I thought I could substitute some coconut milk instead.
Turns out that the combination of the kind of garliky shrimp filling and a sweeter sort of note in the tomato sauce was a really good combination.
Shrimp Agnolotti with Coconut Tomato Cream Sauce
For the shrimp filling:
8 oz shrimp
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 clove of minced garlic
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 an onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Small handful parsley, minced (about 1 tablespoon, minced)
1/2 up grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 batch Thomas Keller's pasta recipe:
1 3/4 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon coconut oil (can sub butter, but not olive oil)
1/2 an onion, diced
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup coconut milk
Splash of sherry vinegar, maybe 1/2 teaspoon (can sub balsamic)
Salt & pepper
I began by making the filling.
Thaw your shrimp.
Pop into a food processor.
Give it a couple of pulses.
Add 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp baking soda. This helps to season the shrimp but also gives it kind of a nice body - keeping it from getting mushy, even when pureed.
Also toss in a clove of minced garlic.
Dice half an onion.
Add a tablespoon of butter to a non-stick pan over medium heat.
Toss in the half diced onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic.
Give it a stir.
While that sweats a bit, grab a small handful of parsley.
Mince it up.
Toss it in with the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. You want to keep this moving around a bit.
Add the shrimp paste to the pan.
Break up the chunks and cook for 3 more minutes.
It'll turn pinker.
Throw this mixture back into the food processor.
Gather 1/2 cup of grated parmesan. Mine weighed 1.7 oz but it's not a big deal.
Toss it in.
Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Pulse a few times.
Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil if it seems a tad dense.
Transfer the mixture to a ziplock bag.
Scoot it to one corner and seal it up.
To make the agnolotti, you'll need to prep a baking sheet with some flour to gather the finished pasta.
I didn't detail the making of the pasta because I've done it before and this pasta recipe in particular is very forgiving as it's very rich and awesome. I always use this recipe for filled pastas, though it makes perfectly good pasta in any form.
Just keep it in a ziplock bag so it doesn't dry out as you are making the agnolotti.
I work with half a batch at a time.
Have your helper at the ready!
Cut the tip of your bag of filling off and pipe a line down the bottom edge of the pasta sheet.
Fold up the edge until it just clears the filling.
Use your fingers to press each side of the filling in one inch segments.
Then, crimp-seal the edge using a pasta crimper.
I don't do the double fold over that's traditional with agnolotti because I find it wasteful so, sorry if you are offended.
Separate the line from the sheet.
Cut along your finger marks.
Use a bench scraper to help transfer the agnolotti to your floured baking sheet. They'll be fragile and moist.
Repeat until you're out of pasta.
I had quite a bit of filling leftover. Freeze it for next time!
To make the sauce, add the other half of your onion from the shrimp filling to a blender or food processor.
Here, I'm using a hand blender.
To it, add 1 can of diced tomatoes.
Season with salt and pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon of each.
Blend it up.
OK! When you're ready for dinner, get a large pot of salted water (1 tablespoon kosher salt to 1 gallon of water) on the boil and start your sauce.
Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter to a large skillet. I tend to use a non, non-stick pan for pasta. Not sure why.
Anyhoo, put this over medium heat.
Toss in your tomato/onion mix.
Give everything a stir to combine.
Let this go until it comes to a boil, then drop the heat a touch to maintain a simmer.
We want to cook most of the liquid out since we'll be replacing it with coconut milk. It'll take about the time the pot of water takes to come to a boil.
Once you reduce the sauce, add the coconut milk.
Stir to combine.
Give it a splash of some sherry or balsamic vinegar to cut the richness.
Toss your agnolotti in the water when it's at a boil.
After it floats, give it 3 minutes to fully cook.
Scoot your sauce pan next to the pot and scoop the agnolotti directly into the pan.
This adds some pasta water to the sauce and helps get a nice emulsification.
Stir well (but gently) to combine.
This dish was a complete surprise to me. I kind of thought it would taste weird with the coconut milk added to the sauce but it was really good.
The filling had a great texture and the sweet, brininess of the shrimp worked really well with the tomato sauce and sweetness of the coconut milk. The acid in the sherry vinegar cut through the richness of the pasta and filling and tied everything together very well.
Overall, I was very happy with this and would make it again!