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Recipe Friday: Dry Pasta...The New Risotto

During Art of Catering Food (held this past March in Orlando, FL), Charlie Schaffer demonstrated how to prepare pasta dishes through the same technique used for risotto. This technique allows pastas to have the same creamy texture as risotto, which is the perfect vehicle for endless flavors and ingredients. 

"You can go a million different ways with this," Schaffer said during his session The New Risotto…Dry Pasta. "Guests want to see pasta on the menu, and this method holds up really well."

Check out Schaffer's recipe below. This pasta technique will be a strong menu candidate for your buffets, small plates, and plated services.

Photo courtesy Savannah Spirov

Shrimp, Artichoke, Peas & Lemon Orecchiette

Yield: 200

Recipe courtesy Charlie Scaffer, Schaffer LA


5 cups olive oil
10 cups artichoke hearts, canned, chopped small
10 cups English peas, frozen and defrosted
2½ lbs shrimp, small
10 cups leeks, small diced & washed
5 lbs orecchiette
10 cups dry white wine
To taste salt to taste pepper
5 T chili flake
20 cups water (veggie stock, shrimp stock)
20 T butter, cubed
5 cups parmesan, grated
1 cup lemon zest, microplaned (or lemon oil)
5 cups Italian parsley, chopped
2½ cups tarragon, chopped


  1. In a 14" sauté pan, cook artichokes with ¼ cup of the olive oil to heat up and lightly caramelize. Add peas to warm, remove all from pan and reserve.
  2. In the same pan heat another ¼ cup of the olive oil to high heat, add shrimp and cook until nearly done, remove from heat and reserve.
  3. In an eight quart pot, sweat leeks on medium heat with ¼ cup of the olive oil until soft.
  4. Add pasta to the pot, stir into leeks and toast the pasta one minute.
  5. Add white wine, chili flake, salt and pepper, and stir the pasta as wine evaporates for one minute.
  6. Add broth to nearly cover the pasta, bring to a simmer and stir as broth evaporates so the pasta cooks evenly for about eight minutes. The broth should evaporate by about two thirds leaving a slightly creamy sauce.
  7. When pasta is very al dente, add the artichokes, peas and shrimp. Continue to stir to incorporate.
  8. Remove the pasta from heat, and slowly pour in the remaining ½ cup olive oil. Once olive oil is fully incorporated, add the butter and continue stirring. Once butter is fully mounted into the pasta sauce, add the parmesan cheese, lemon zest and chopped herbs. Continue to stir until the cheese is melted and the pasta has a loose and creamy consistency that will gently spread out on a plate. 


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