Francine Segan calls the avocado sauce in this dish from her new cookbook, Pasta Modern, a healthy alternative to dairy-based cream sauces, but it hardly tastes like bland diet food. The buttery fruit gets a quick buzz in a blender with plenty of lemon juice, turning velvety thick. It melts into the hot, white wine-scented pasta, adding a flavorful coating to the red onion, and shrimp. A dusting of lemon zest enlivens the dish, making the spaghetti impossible to put down.
Why I picked this recipe: Who can say no to avocado cream sauce?
What worked: This dish is a wonder—every element has a purpose, and each sings brightly throughout every bite.
What didn't: Again, Segan doesn't say to save pasta cooking water, but a little bit is helpful here to bring the dish together.
Suggested tweaks: You could simplify the dish further by cutting out the shrimp if you'd like. Or, change the protein entirely to a bit of bacon or small pieces of chicken.
Reprinted with permission from Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy by Francine Segan. Copyright 2013. Published by Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1 large red onion, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
- 8 ounces (225 g) small shrimp, shelled and deveined
- Olive oil
- 1 pound (455 g) spaghetti or any pasta, preferably Felicetti Monograno
- 1 avocado
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a skillet large enough to hold the pasta, combine the onions and wine over medium heat and simmer until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and raise the heat to high to evaporate any remaining wine; cook until the onions are caramelized and the shrimp are cooked, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and salt to taste.
Boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the onions.
Meanwhile, peel and pit the avocado and puree it with the lemon juice, in a blender or small food processor until very smooth. Stir the mixture into the pasta and add half the lemon zest until well combined; re-season the dish with salt, if needed. Top the pasta with the remaining zest and pepper.