Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feta Alfredo

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


Since the technical definition of Alfredo is a sauce that uses butter, cream, and Parmesan, I'm totally cheating here in calling this dish 'Feta Alfredo' because there isn't a lick of Parmesan in it. I suppose I should have called it 'Pasta with Feta Cheese Sauce,' which doesn't sound nearly as sexy, does it? But beyond that it doesn't capture the mood of this dish, which is very much the mood of a real Alfredo dish--creamy, cheesy, finger-licking, and with the kind of sultry kick not just any cheese sauce will deliver. And if food romance isn't enough inspiration for you, how about the fact that this comes together in 30 minutes or less. 

Sadly, the idea of combining feta with cream was not my own. How could this be so, you ask? I do not know. Cream, feta, butter, pasta--it seems like I should have come forth from the womb spewing such words. (Fortunately for my mother, I did not, though maybe she would have gotten better hospital meals if I had.) Instead of my own cream-obsessed brain, the inspiration for this recipe came from a blog called Crumbs and Chaos. Thank you Crumbs and Chaos for opening my eyes and expanding my world. Let us all come to be so enlightened. Make this dish. 

Feta Alfredo
Adapted from Crumbs and Chaos, which was adapted from Lavender and Lime
Serves 4
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Cost: $4.00
bacon: .50, butter: .10, broccoli: .70, peas: .30, cream: .70, feta: 1.00, pasta: .60, other stuff: .10)

1/4 lb bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 head broccoli
1 C frozen peas
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
3/4 C heavy cream
2 oz feta, plus more for garnishing
pepper
8 oz pasta (we used bow ties)
salt to taste

Get your pasta water boiling. When it's boiling, add the pasta. 

While the water is coming to a boil, cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Put this and the frozen peas in a microwave-safe bowl. Add about 2-4 Tbsp water (enough to make 1/2 inch to 1 inch in the bottom of the bowl). Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until broccoli is tender, stirring one time in between. The broccoli should be fork tender, but not nuked into mushy mush. Note: I love this method for cooking broccoli. It's fast, many of the nutrients are retained, and it comes out perfect, bright green, and tasty. Remove from microwave with an oven mitt because it's really really hot. Also watch for steam when you remove the plastic wrap. Drain remaining water out. (Carefully--remember the steam.)

And while your pasta is cooking and you're multi-tasking your little heart out, heat a skillet and add bacon to it. Cook until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Wipe skillet out with a wadded up paper towel (don't burn yourself). 

Add butter to skillet and melt it. Add garlic and thyme. Give them a whirl in the butter for about 30 seconds. Add cream and let it get warm. Add feta to cream (crumble it up a bit before you throw it in). Stir it gently until melted. (Note: Unless you've done a superior job crumbling, it won't all melt and there will be a few lumps of it. That's okay.) 

Add broccoli, peas, and bacon. 

Drain your pasta. (It should be al dente, not just for food snob reasons, but because it's going to cook another few minutes with the cream and you want it to absorb a little of that awesomeness.) Add cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. I let mine cook in there for a few minutes, which allowed some of the cream to be sucked up by the pasta. 

Serve while hot with feta sprinkled on top. 

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