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A Cure for Curdling

Front Burner | Culinary SOS

January 16, 2002|CINDY DORN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DEAR SOS: I'm trying to make a light cream sauce for pasta that is flavorful but healthful. I start with a few vegetables and a reduction of white wine, then add milk rather than cream. Usually the milk separates. I assume it is the acid in the wine that causes the separation. I assume cream works because of the extra fat. Any suggestions?

BRYAN GROS

Oakland

DEAR BRYAN: Yes, we have suggestions. Never assume, would be the first one. For the sauce we recommend using ricotta cheese in the wine reduction, and not much wine, by the way. For liquid, use the pasta water. As the pasta cooks, it releases starch into the water; using this water in your sauce will thicken the sauce as it cooks down. Cook the vegetables separately, then add them to the finished sauce, or toss them on the pasta before pouring the sauce on the pasta.

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Send requests to Culinary SOS, Food Section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 or e-mail to: cindy.dorn@latimes.com. Please include your last name and city of residence for publication. Include restaurant address when requesting recipes from restaurants.

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Pasta for Two

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes * Vegetarian

Bowl from Pier 1 Imports.

1/2 pound penne

Salt

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Whisk in the flour.

Combine the ricotta and reserved pasta water in a bowl and whisk into the pan. The sauce will thicken immediately. Add the drained pasta to the sauce. Top with grated Parmesan before serving.

2 servings. Each serving: 338 calories; 261 mg sodium; 47 mg cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 36 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 1.99 grams fiber.

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