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~So Easy -- Mushroom Ravioli Alfredo alla Primavera~

IMG_8725I'm not a vegetarian, but, as a card-carrying carnivore, I can tell you, if I were, this easy-to-make creamy-dreamy pasta dish would be at the top of my weeknight menu rotation.  Why?  Because when I indulge in this decadent dish, I don't miss the meat for a second.  In Italian, fettuccine means "little ribbons", which is why stranded pasta is always used.  In Italian, primavera means "Spring" and culinarily, primavera just means that fresh vegetables (raw or blanched) are added to the dish during or at the end of its preparation.  Long story short, fettuccini Alfredo that has vegetables added to it is simply referred to as Alfredo alla primavera -- and it is awesome.

A bit of history about the iconic fettuccine Alfredo:  

6a0120a8551282970b026bde8a8b22200cAlfredo 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.

High-quality store-bought mushroom ravioli makes this a super-easy-to-make, decadent, weeknight, family-friendly meal:

IMG_86872  10-ounce bags high-quality mushroom ravioli

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

1  cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

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

2  16-ounce bags frozen vegetables, your favorite combo, freshly-prepared (simmered, steamed or microwaved), well-drained, and, ideally, still slightly warm

IMG_8685 IMG_8694 IMG_8695 IMG_8699 IMG_8701~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 ravioli and cook until al dente, about 3-4 minutes.  Turn heat off.  Thoroughly, drain the ravioli into a colander, then immediately return the hot pasta to the still hot stockpot and place the stockpot back on the still hot stovetop.

IMG_8704 IMG_8705 ~Step 2.  Add the butter pieces, along with the spices:  garlic powder, Italian seasoning, nutmeg, black pepper, red pepper flakes and sea salt.  Using one or two spoons, ever-so-gently gently toss, like you would a salad, until butter is completely melted and ravioli are evenly coated in a flavorful butter and spice mixture.

IMG_8709 IMG_8711 IMG_8714 IMG_8717 IMG_8720 IMG_8722~Step 3.  Toss in the cheese followed by one cup of the cream.  Again, using oe or two spoons, gently toss like you would a salad, until the mixture is thoroughly combined.  Gently toss the cooked and drained vegetables into the mixture.  Cover and let rest, 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally, to allow pasta and veggies time to absorb all of the cream mixture.  Continue adding additional cream, in small 1/4 cup increments, until desired consistency is reached -- the longer the ravioli sit prior to serving, the more cream will be needed.

Portion into desired-sized serving bowls & serve immediately.  

IMG_8738So Easy -- Mushroom Ravioli Alfredo alla Primavera:  Recipe yields 6-8 main-dish servings.

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

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3e1d465200bCook's Note: Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.  When serving any sort of Italian-American fare, a double-whammy of calories and carbohydrates, in the form of garlic bread, is huge hit.  Why?  Because eating Italian-American fare without a great big basket of garlic bread on the table is, gulp, culinarily criminal. Make a salad too, because it too goes great with it too (and makes one feel a bit less guilty). Try my recipe for ~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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