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~ All-in-the-Pantry One-Pot Creamy Spaghetti Alfredo ~

IMG_4357Any time of year, at the end of a bad day or a great day, served as a side-dish or a main-course, a creamy-dreamy bowl of luxurious Alfredo-sauced pasta can be just what the doctor ordered.  A few pantry ingredients, cheese and cream, plus, one-pot on the stovetop.  Fifteen minutes later, you stick a fork in it and all is right with the world.  There is no trick to Alfredo.  About the only thing one can do wrong is to purchase a jar of bottled glop, which, never mind, let's not go there.

A bit of history about the iconic fettuccine Alfredo: 

6a0120a8551282970b014e8bb97814970dAlfredo is an Italian pasta dish in which any type of stranded pasta, most famously "fettuccine" (which means "little ribbons" in Italian), is enrobed in a rich sauce usually made from butter, cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black pepper.  A Roman restauranteur, Alfredo di Lelio first created this dish for his pregnant wife in 1914.  As the story goes, she had lost her appetite or was having trouble keeping food down, either while she was pregnant or after the birth of their son.  Alfredo, set out to create a dish that would not only appeal to his wife, but would be nutritious (calorie and carbohydrate packed) as well.  He developed his dish based on the traditional pasta al burro, which was simply paper-thin ribbons of hand-made pasta with butter.  Alfredo made egg fettuccine, tripled the amount of butter and laced it with copious amounts of Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese.  His wife loved it, so, he added it to his restaurant menu.

As the story goes, as fate would have it, in 1927, the American silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, while honeymooning in Italy, stopped into di Lelio's Alfredo alla Scrofa restaurant, ate the dish and the two lovebirds adored it.  They loved it so much, before they departed, they presented him with a golden fork and spoon along with a picture of them eating in his restaurant.  When the famous newlyweds returned to Hollywood, they began serving fettuccine Alfredo at their dinner parties.  It didn't take long for the news to spread throughout Hollywood, making di Lelio's restaurant and his pasta dish world famous.

A bit of history about my famous spaghetti Alfredo:

IMG_4371It was November, 1981 or 1982 -- one or two days before Thanksgiving.  It would turn out to be one of the worst-ever total snowfall years in the history of State College, and this storm snuck up on everyone.  The snow piled high that afternoon, leaving over two feet on the ground. Trees came down and power lines snapped.  Lights went out all over town.  Our house at the time had a soapstone wood-burning stove in our family room.  I hated that stove and the mess involved with it, but, it did help with the heating bill, so, Joe kept it going.  Sans electricity, I put a pot of water on the stove to boil and wrapped a loaf of frozen garlic bread in foil.  Using what I had on hand, we five had this pantry version of  "spaghetti Alfredo", by candlelight, in a warm house, for dinner.  

IMG_431612  ounces thick spaghetti

1  tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning water for pasta

8  tablespoons salted butter, cut into bite-sized pieces, at room temperature, the softer the better

1 1/2  teaspoons garlic powder

1  teaspoon Italian seasoning blend

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less, to taste (optional)

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1-1 1/4-1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature

IMG_4318 IMG_4318 IMG_4318 IMG_4324 IMG_4324~Step 1.  In a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil.  Add the 1 tablespoon sea salt.  Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10-11 minutes.  Turn heat off.  Thoroughly, drain the pasta into a colandar, then immediately return the hot pasta to the still hot stockpot and place the stockpot back on the still hot stovetop.  

IMG_4328 IMG_4328 IMG_4328~Step 2.  Add the butter pieces, along with the spices:  garlic powder, Italian seasoning, nutmeg, black pepper, red pepper flakes and sea salt.  Using two forks or two spoons, toss like you would a salad, until butter is completely melted and pasta is evenly coated in a flavorful butter and spice mixture.

IMG_4336 IMG_4336 IMG_4336~Step 3.  Toss in the finely-grated cheese followed by the cream.  Again, using two forks or two spoons, toss as you would a salad, until the mixture is thoroughly combined.  Cover and let rest, 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally, to allow pasta to absorb all of the cream mixture.  Portion into desired-sized serving bowls.

Top w/a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes & serve:

IMG_4354All-in-the-Pantry One-Pot Creamy Spaghetti Alfredo:  Recipe yields 2-4 larger main-dish servings and 4-6 smaller side servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; microplane grater; wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot w/lid; colander; two forks or two spoons

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2e8758b970cCook's Note: The Italians came up with the cure for the late-night snack-attack centuries ago: Pasta al burro con formaggino (pasta with butter and cheese).  It's a no-nonsense, feed-me-now-snack, a quick-to-make side dish, and, it's a delicious foil for flavorful pasta sauces too.  Choose any shape of pasta (short, fork-friendly shapes work best), and, if you have a link or a patty of breakfast sausage on-hand, not only do the flavors melt into the mixture like they were born to be there, without almost any extra effort, it transforms the dish into a hearty meal for one or two.  Try my ~ Pasta with Butter & Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


Good morning Lilly -- Perhaps we will "agree to disagree" on this point, but, pantry cooking, more often than not, commonly includes one or two refrigerated items. For example: Dry Knorr sauce and Hidden Valley dressing packets require milk or cream; Cake and brownie mixes use eggs; Rice-a-Roni calls for butter, etc. Common sense tells us that if one is out of milk, evaporated milk is always an option, and, while a compromise, green-lidded shelf-stable cheese will work just fine. FYI: Di Lelio's original Alfredo did not use cream or egg (perhaps you are confusing it with carbonara), or, parsley nor any spices (except for pepper) for that matter (I add them because they taste great in this dish). Di Lelio's dish was a copious amount of butter, lots of fresh-grated cheese and black pepper + fresh (homemade) egg pappardelle pasta. When prepared the Italian way, Alfredo is NOT, NOT, NOT a separately prepared wet sauce that gets tossed into pasta -- wet sauce is an all-American bastardization (ok, but, meh). Ideally, the ingredients get added to the pasta, and, as the butter and cheese melt, the pasta gets enrobed in a sauce-like coating -- in the case of my version the pasta absorbs the cream too. There's nothing soupy about it when made correctly. ~ Melanie

The definition of "pantry" foods are foods that do not require refrigeration. Yet you've got cream, butter and cheese from the refrigerator.

I'm not sure what this is, but the addition of the herbs, spice and nutmeg (huh???) means it's not even a first cousin to Alfredo. Alfredo is about the cheese, it's front and center.

How does the sauce not become a thin soup without the tempered egg yolk?

I expected to find a sauce featuring evaporated milk and jarred shelf-stable grated cheeses. I'm baffled on what makes this a "all pantry" version and what the other version would be.

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