Back to school, back to Year 2 of Operation Dinner Table in which I try to bring some quick, yummy dinners to my Misses after school and work schedules become hectic. Total success all the time? No way. A for effort? Most of the time. Sitting down together for a few quiet moments during the day. Absolutely.
This recipe is bound for heavy rotation on school nights. The original recipe (link below) calls for fresh pasta, but I used dried. Easier for an “on hand” dinner! Once you put the pasta in the pot to boil, start the sauce and the whole thing is done in about 10 minutes!. If you don’t want to defrost the peas in advance, put them in the strainer and they will thaw as you pour the drained pasta water over them. So easy!
Lighter Fettuccine Alfredo
3/4 cup half and half, divided
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp. plus 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. cornstarch
9 oz. fettuccine
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Frozen green peas, thawed (optional)
1. In a large pot, bring water (about 6 quarts) and 1 tablespoon of salt to boil for pasta. Once you place the fettuccine into boiling water, cook to al dente according to package directions.
**Disclaimer – I skipped step two for 8 and 10 years olds… 2. Ladle 1/2 cup of the boiling water into the serving bowls and set aside (the boiling water warms the bowls which will help the sauce keep a warm and creamy as long as possible).
3. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup of the half and half, the nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a simmer.
4. In a small measuring cup, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/4 cup of half and half until smooth.
5. Add to saucepan, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from heat and cover.
7. Remove the cooked pasta from heat; reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining, then drain the pasta.
8. Return the sauce back to the stovetop over medium-low heat.
9. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Gradually add the cheese, whisking constantly to incorporate, until the sauce is smooth.
10. Add the pasta, and peas if desired, to the cheese sauce and heat for about 1 minute, or until the sauce thickens enough to lightly coat the pasta. (Add some of the remaining 1/4 cup pasta water to thin the sauce if it seems too thick.)
11. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
12. If you heated the serving bowls, empty the water from them. Divide the pasta among the serving dishes and enjoy.