Creamy Parmesan Shells with Toasted Garlic
Chef Kayla Howey
While I’m still very much excited about all of the end of summer tomatoes, corn, and peaches…and there’s still a bit of grilling to be done and lots of fresh salads to be made, the start of September is making me crave all the cozy comfort foods that come with the fall season.
We had a cooler, rainy night here in Chicago, and a satisfying, simple pasta dish seemed like just the thing to make. I didn’t have much on hand at all, but with a few ingredients and the addition of Spice Tribe’s Porcini Paradiso blend…we had the most decadent & delicious plate of creamy parmesan shells that my family and I devoured in minutes.
The inspiration to make this pasta ridiculously simple was the porcini spice blend that is already full of SO much flavor (garlic, porcini, rosemary, mustard, thyme, basil, and calabrian chile). It’s bold, earthy, and has hints of warmth to transition us into the colder months ahead. With so much good flavor, I kept the rest of the ingredients as minimal as possible. And the process couldn’t be easier.
While the shells cook in boiling water, the sauce comes together in a skillet in just the same amount of time. It’s extremely quick, so make sure to have all of your ingredients out and ready to go. You’ll melt some butter to start and toast up the very thinly shaved garlic until it’s golden and crisp. Then you’ll add some cream and start to simmer it down with the spices and fresh herbs.
When you see bubbles all the way across the surface of the cream, whisk in your parmesan cheese. That’s really all there is to it, but the key is to cook the cream sauce long enough so it’s thickened, but not so long that it turns clumpy and overcooked. The goal is a silky smooth sauce that effortlessly coats the shells when it’s all tossed together.
Top with freshly cracked black pepper (and maybe a little more parmesan), and you’re good to go!
- 1 lb large shells (conchiglioni pasta)
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly shaved
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 tbsp Spice Tribe Porcini Paradiso blend
- 2 large sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
- .75 cup parmesan cheese
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a palmful of salt. Drop in the large shells and stir really well. Cook for 1 minute less than the package’s instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat a large 12” skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the shaved garlic and quickly toast it in the hot butter until golden brown (be careful not to burn).
- Add the heavy cream and immediately whisk in the Porcini Paradiso blend. Add the oregano and rosemary. Bring the cream to a simmer and cook for a minute or so to begin thickening. At this point, when the cream has bubbles across the entire surface, whisk in the parmesan cheese.
- Continue to cook the cream sauce for another minute or so until thickened, stirring continuously and lowering the heat as needed so that the sauce doesn’t overcook and lose it’s silkiness. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the sauce.
- Stir the pasta with a wooden spoon for another minute to allow the sauce to coat the pasta as it finishes cooking. Serve the shells in a large bowl with lots of freshly cracked black pepper on top.