Pasta with Chestnut Cream

MAKES: 4 About 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

This rich, traditional Mediterranean dish is a perfect first course for a fancy dinner, especially with fresh pasta. And you can make it vegan just by using nondairy cream and skipping the Parmesan.

Salt

1/2 cup cream or half-and-half

8 ounces fresh chestnuts, cooked, or thawed frozen or canned

1 sprig fresh thyme

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound dried or fresh pasta

Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the cream, chestnuts, and thyme in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.

Transfer the chestnut mixture to a food processor or blender and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. PurГ©e until smooth. (You can make the sauce to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to 4 days.)

Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. Drain it, reserving some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the chestnut cream sauce. If the sauce is too thick, thin with a little of the pasta water. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve sprinkled with the Parmesan.