Let's be honest here. I don't truly believe that Alfredo is Alfredo without some cream--usually a lot of cream. Without that, in all honesty, it's really just a white sauce. But this is a very delicious and rich and Alfredo-esquewhite sauce, especially considering we will be using mostly items from our pantry. You can call it diet Alfredo if you want since it uses whole milk instead of actual cream, but then--and I just don't know how to say this politely--you'd kind of be an idiot because this is a whole milk-based cheese sauce with a butter roux. But, you know, whatever makes you and yourn feel good about life.
The real purpose and reason for this recipe is that sometimes you run out of cream. Or milk. Or both. And then you get a hankering for creamy pasta. Wow, life can be really hard sometimes. I mean, wait till our grandchildren hear these stories of deprivation. But I digress. The point is I wanted Alfredo and had no cream. I didn't want to run to the store. And, truly, if one of your New Year's Resolutions involves saving a little money this year, then running to the store every time you want a food is a bad idea. So here you go. Now you can have your Alfredo and eat it too.
This is a super easy recipe that involves shelf-stable foods and takes less than 10 minutes to pull together. Additionally, you get it for less than $2. Hello pasta night. (Note: Butter is often refrigerated, but does not actually need refrigeration--at least in the shortish term. While you probably don't want to leave it out for a year or anything, it'll be good on your counter for several weeks. We leave our butter on the counter all the time so it's easy to butter bread. I'm not truly sure how long it will stay good on the counter, because we go through our counter stick of butter in less than two weeks--usually less than 1 week. But I've never ever in all my 13 years of married life had counter butter go bad.)
Pantry Alfredo Sauce
Prep and cook time: less than 10 minutes
butter: .25, evaporated milk: .70, cheese: .75, other stuff: .05 (Aldi prices)
1/4 C butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 can whole evaporated milk
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the powdery kind)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
the juices from a can of diced tomatoes (optional, but a very very nice touch if I do say so myself)
Melt butter in a pot on medium heat. Whisk in flour. Let cook for 30-60 seconds. Add salt and garlic powder if using and whisk. Whisk in evaporated milk. Keep whisking till it's nice and smooth. Keep stir/whisking every minute or so until it thickens slightly. Now whisk in the cheese (you may want to turn the heat down or take it off the heat entirely here). Stir it for a few minutes until it melts and the entire mixture thickens.
Now I would recommend opening a can of diced tomatoes (we used tomato and basil, but any kind would work.) Pour the liquid from the can into your sauce and whisk it. This makes the sauce a pretty color and just really adds a nice little flavor. Then, I served the remaining tomatoes with my pasta and Alfredo. It was fabulous.