Pasta Primavera Alfredo

The following recipe was made during my Summer Produce cooking class. You can read about it and get other recipes HERE.

Pasta Primavera Alfredo – this is also an easy recipe that took little effort to make. We chopped up a handful of the random vegetables including broccoli, english cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, and green onions. We sauted the veggies in a little cooking spray, added 3 cloves of minced garlic and about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper to taste. Once everything was softened, we added 2 cups of cooked macaroni. One of the guests suggested using a prepared alfredo sauce to tie everything together so we added about 1 cup of alfredo sauce. After it was all heated through, it was done!

Alfredo Secrets!

One of my indulgences when I’m dining at an Italian restaurant is ordering fettuccine alfredo. I never seem to manage pulling it off consistently at home from scratch… and when compared to the restaurant versions, mine just doesn’t come out the same. Until now… and its better!

I’ve been on a cookbook kick and here’s another recipe I tried from Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen (2006). The result was a silky, creamy cheese sauce that didn’t glop up. I added some chicken and asparagus to round out the dish… and it was perfect!

Another note is that time and temperature matter. The temperature of your serving bowls should be warmed (No wonder the plates at the restaurant are always hot when I order fettuccine alfredo!). According to ATK, serving the alfredo in warmed bowls helps to retain its creamy texture. Also, this dish must be served immediately because it does not hold or reheat well. Here is the recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo:
Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen
page 177

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
( I used dried taglieattelle pasta)
1 1/2 ounces ParmigianoReggiano, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Bring 1 cup of the heavy cream and the butter to a simmer in a 3- to 4- quart saucepan over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. While the cream reduces, bring 4 1/2 quarts water to a rolling boil. covered, in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop about 1/2 cup boiling water into each serving bowl; set the bowls aside to warm. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the pot of boiling water; cook the pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

3. Meanwhile, return the cream mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low and add the pasta, Parmesan, and nutmeg to the cream mixture. Cook over low heat, tossing the pasta with tongs to combine, until the cheese is melted, the sauce coats the pasta, and the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water; the sauce may look rather thin but will gradually thicken as the pasta is served and eaten. Working quickly, empty the serving bowls of the water; divide the pasta among the bowls, tossing the pasta to coat well with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Spinach Alfredo Dip

Here are the recipes for the appetizers I’m serving up 2 hours prior to the Thanksgiving buffet dinner. I figured I’d post the recipes now before the kitchen chaos begins (and I’ll post pics of the final products by Thursday)…

Spinach Alfredo Dip
& Gruyere Artichoke Dip
with Garlic Crostini
Spinach Alfredo Dip

1 1/2 cups homemade or prepared alfredo sauce
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, garlic powder & onion powder to taste

Combine all the above ingredients and place in a small serving dish.
Prior to serving, heat up until warmed.You could also serve it in a “Lil Dipper” mini crockpot or oven proof baking dish.
If using a casserole dish, bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until bubbly.
If using a lil dipper crockpot, plug in and allow to warm at least 30 minutes before serving.

Garlic Crostini
ciabatta, french baguette or italian loaf
1/2 stick butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 – 1 tablespoon chopped fresh italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut bread on a bias across, about 1″ thick, into small serving slices.
Combine the butter, garlic and parsley to make a compound butter.
Spread butter on one side of bread.
Bake on a cookie sheet until slightly browned.
Serve with your fave dip or with cheeses.

Creamy & Delicious Shortcuts

It’s Friday night and after a busy day of running errands, I wanted something quick and easy for dinner. Fortunately I defrosted a whole chicken earlier which I seasoned and baked in the oven. From that chicken alone, I’m able to make a few dishes for future meals. (A big reason why I *love* already cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket!) Speaking of which, I highly recommend this book – which I found at a dollar store of all places!
Here’s the super quick Chicken Fettucini Alfredo w/Broccoli (w/ lots of shortcuts!):

handful of dried fettuccini
water for boiling pasta
chopped or shredded cooked chicken
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1/2 – 2/3 cup prepared alfredo sauce (or homemade if you prefer)

Boil water & cook pasta until tender.
Drain pasta and return to pot.
Add chicken, broccoli, and alfredo sauce.
Warm up all ingredients on medium low heat until fully warmed.