mmmm, pasta. my undying devotion to fettuccine alfredo.
I am definitely Filipino. I’m also definitely a Texan. But over the years, I have developed such a huge palate for world cuisine. I credit it to my travels (read about them here and here) and for being exposed to different kinds of foods abroad and stateside. I’ve never been to the Middle East or Italy, but boy do I love foods from there.
Case in point: fettuccine alfredo.
Ohmyword. I LOVE this stuff (see my post on angel hair alfredo here). Unfortunately, the town that I live in is lacking in the Italian food department. Sure, we’ve got Olive Garden and a few smaller Italian places but overall, it’s not authentic. (Then again, how Italian-authentic can you get in North Texas?) I do have to say that Olive Garden’s fettuccine alfredo is amazing. Fattening, so not good for you, but it tastes wonderful. And of course, it’s not very authentic. It’s an Americanized version, and that’s okay. But I am always on the hunt for authenticity when it comes to food.
I looked up some recipes online for a simple and authentic alfredo dish. I found a recipe on this blog, adapted from Saveur. Apparently, the real deal only has 4 ingredients: fresh fettuccine, water, butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese. The first time I ever made fettuccine alfredo from scratch (to replicate Olive Garden’s dish), I remember using a block of cream cheese. Other recipes call for the addition of heavy cream. Being pregnant (i.e. tired) and having just gotten off work, I wasn’t about to go to the store and buy extra ingredients. I had to make do with dried, boxed spaghetti (okay, so there goes some authenticity out the window).
This is a really basic recipe, so don’t be afraid! If you’re used to the really creamy Americanized version of fettuccine alfredo, I’m not sure if you’ll like this. I really do. It’s simple, not as bad for you (but still, not the healthiest – come on, butter and cheese!) and delicious, in my opinion. Good enough for my husband, in fact. (He dislikes Olive Garden’s version, because it’s so heavy on the stomach and very greasy.) He sampled a bit of what I whipped up as a small, pre-dinner snack (I’m eating for two, remember?!) and he said it was delicious. So, we’re having a full serving for lunch tomorrow. My heart is happy.
What did I do to achieve this?
I just cooked enough pasta for myself. As that was cooking on the stove, I set aside 1/2 tbsp of unsalted butter, grated approx. 1/2 cup or so of parmesan cheese with my handy dandy microplane grater (every home cook should have one) and got out my fresh nutmeg, pepper grinder, salt and garlic powder.
Once the pasta was cooked and drained, I quickly heated a bit of butter on a plate (maybe 30 seconds), then quickly transferred the pasta onto the plate. I added the rest of the butter, threw in the cheese and mixed everything (the hot pasta and plate helped to melt everything). Added a little bit of freshly ground black pepper (yum) and salt and garlic powder to taste. Did a few swipes of fresh nutmeg across the grater (actually done in a lot of Italian pasta recipes). To make it somewhat nutritious, I added lots of spinach leaves.
Again, not completely authentic with my addition of garlic powder and spinach (and the use of spaghetti and not fresh fettuccine noodles), but it’s still very good! I could have eaten another portion of it, I loved it so much. This will be my go-to method from now on, dried spaghetti or not.
If you’ve been afraid to make fettuccine alfredo from scratch, don’t be. It’s simple and fast. No need for it to be fussy or too fattening. Use the recipe I linked above or just kind of eyeball it like I did. Give it a try!