I have a thing for Alfredo. I have an even bigger thing for Alfredo with a hearty dose of chopped basil. People make Alfredo sauces differently, ranging from the purist's version of cream, Parmesan cheese, and butter to the more Americanized cream cheesy versions or the foodie ones with a dash of nutmeg or whatever else is the seasoning de jour. I like mine pretty pure and I usually make it as a sauce. But this recipe caught my eye because it is just so darn simple, so delightfully one-pot. You finish cooking your noodles in the cream, which really incorporates the cream into your dish (a trick Cook's Illustrated also suggests). It's a well-balanced, one-pot, 25-minute meal that would cost you $15 at Applebees.
It's also a great way to use up random vegetables that you have. Broccoli, cauliflower, spring peas, spinach, asparagus--whatever you've got or a combination thereof. I used spinach and the peas from my garden. In that way it was sort of a celebratory dish as well. I've never gotten enough peas from the garden to satisfy both the garden snackers (me and my girls) and actually have enough leftover to create a dish. It was very exciting. I'll be making it again tonight with the last of my peas. Here's to the exit of spring and the onslaught (which is certainly how it felt this weekend) of summer.
Easy One-Pot Pasta with Alfredo
adapted from Everyday Food
Prep and cook time: 25-30 minutes
pasta: .75, vegetables: .50-1.00, basil (I'm guessing here; I grow it myself): .50, cream: .35, Parmesan: .75
3/4 lb short pasta (something with swirly parts is nice--it catches the creaminess)
3 garlic cloves, halved
3-4 C vegetables of your choice (peas, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower--go with a cool-season vegetable and you'll likely be okay)
1/2 C fresh basil leaves (or several tablespoons of pesto)
1/3 C heavy cream
3/4 C grated Parmesan
In a pot of (preferably salted) boiling water, cook pasta and garlic 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Add vegetables and cook for 1 minutes (Note: I know I'm giving exact times here, but I didn't use exact times--essentially get your pasta almost cooked, throw the veggies in near the end so they get a quick boil--they'll cook a bit more in the cream, so this isn't all the cooking they get, but it gets them started.)
Reserve 1/2 C pasta water (um, I forgot to do that and all was still well) and drain.
Add cream and basil to the pasta in your pot and heat over medium with the pasta. If you need to add some of the reserved cooking water to thin it (I didn't need to). Cook this, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Stir in Parmesan and remaining pasta water if you need to loosen it up a bit (I didn't need to). Season with salt and pepper.