Great food is about balancing flavors.
One of my favorite balancing acts is warm and cool. By that I mean the wonderful combination of spicy foods with cool refreshing dairy – whether that dairy be cream, butter, yogurt, or milk. It’s all good.
Look at Indian food for example. They eat a lot of spicy food. They are known for their Lassi yogurt drinks that go perfectly with a spicy meal.
My first venture into playing around with this combo is when I made Creamed Corn with Hatch Chile Peppers. You get hit the heat at first, but then the cream mellows it out. It’s a perfect marriage. Why do you think people who eat a really hot pepper and need some relief turn to a cold glass of milk?
For my new adventure into hot and cool, I am combining a spicy Sriracha pasta with a cooling Alfredo sauce. It’s such a wonderful flavor combination.
My friends at Sfoglini Pasta were ever so kind to send me three different boxes of pasta to try out. I will be posting recipes featuring all three of these. One of the varieties was Sriracha Fusilli. Sfoglini has a huge selection of varieties they make in different pasta shapes, colors, flavors, etc. They even do seasonal flavors like Chestnut, Basil, and Cocoa.
Their pasta is made with bronze dies. This gives the pasta a rough texture that will help your sauce adhere to it better. Look for the words “made with bronze dies” on any box of pasta you are looking to purchase.
What is Fusilli Pasta?
Fusilli is a corkscrew shaped pasta. Sometimes in the U.S. people will call it rotini. But the Italian call it Fusilli so I am going to go with them, they are the pasta experts.
Fusilli is often used to make different colored pasta. This is usually done by adding things like beet, spinach, or tomato. In the case of the pasta I am talking about today it is given it’s pretty orange color from the Sriracha that is added.
Inspiration for this Dish
The Sfoglini Pasta is something special I have never had before. I needed to ome up with a good idea to use. The first step was to cooked up a little bit of it to give a try – to see if it really packed the flavor and spice.
I can attest that this Sriracha pasta stuff is legit. It doesn’t just say Sriracha on the box. There was some definite heat to it. Not crazy, but I haven’t ever had a spicy pasta before. It left an (good) impression on me.
While wandering the aisles of my closest Kroger store – which happens to be small and lacking in my opinion – I saw a a jar of sauce that caught my eye. Kroger has a store brand called Private Selection. And I must say that do have some cool products with great flavors. I am a sucker for their Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream.
The jar of sauce that got my attention was a Basil Pesto Alfredo Sauce. That immediately got me thinking, I need Alfredo sauce to go on my Sriracha Fusilli. And why not some basil as well.
PSA – Grow Your Own Basil
You need to grow your own basil. I grow basil in my garden. I planted it as soon as possible each year, which means when there is little to no chance of getting frost again here in Michigan.
Growing your own herbs is a great way to save money. At the grocery store you are going to pay an arm and a leg to get fresh herbs. I once calculated the per pound price of fresh herbs at Whole Foods Market. The price came out to be over $50 per pound. That is insane. A small container usually goes for $2-3 a piece. For that price you can buy a basil plant or two (I got 4 of them for $1.99 this year) and have all the basil you want fresh at your fingertips.
A Simple Sauce
The pasta by itself is so good that you don’t need a super complex sauce to enjoy it. The Basil Alfredo sauce is a simple, yet delicious combination of flour, butter, milk, and cheese topped off with some fresh basil and salted to taste. My little secret ingredient is including a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Most people seem to just use nutmeg for sweet desserts or egg nog, but nutmeg plays really well in savory dishes – so keep a nut on hand to grate.
- Bring a gallon of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta. Cook til al dente, drain, and set aside.
- Melt the butter in the bottom of a large sauce pan over medium high heat.
- Add the flour. Stir until combined and the flour is cooked, less than a minute.
- Add the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring consistently.
- Remove from the heat, and add the cheese and chopped up basil. Salt to taste.
- Serve over the pasta or mix it all together to combine. Add freshly grated nutmeg (optional)