Classic pasta sauces should be part of every cook’s repertoire. Made with the simplest of ingredients, they can be used time and time again and never fail to satisfy the hungriest of diners. Ranging from creamy Alfredo, hearty Bolognaise, spicy Puttanesca, summery Primavera, to tangy Pesto, there is a pasta sauce for every season and every appetite.
Often the ingredients are ones you already have in your pantry, and, along with the help of a few key seasonal ingredients, you can easily create a meal in a matter of minutes that tastes so much better than anything you could buy in a jar.
One of the simplest and most luxurious of sauces will take no more time than it takes to boil up a pot of pasta. The classic Alfredo is a rich, creamy sauce traditionally served with fettuccini, but any long flat pasta such as linguini or tagliatelle will soak up its creamy sauce perfectly.
Italians have been eating a simple variation of pasta tossed with butter and cheese for hundreds of years, but it took a Roman restaurateur to create a legend that made the sauce famous the world over. Giving his own name to the dish, he served up in his restaurant, Alfredo di Lelio made Fettucino Alfredo popular among US tourists visiting Rome. Legend has it, that when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks dined at Alfredo’s in 1920, they loved the dish so much that they presented his with a golden fork that he displayed in his restaurant. When they returned home to Hollywood they took the dish with them, and it soon became fashionable in the United States.
The Alfredo sauce popular in the United States is richer and creamier than the one traditionally served up in Italy, and it is often complemented with extra ingredients such as chicken, broccoli or seafood. But the classic dish is a luxury in it’s own right, and incredibly simple to make. As in all Italian cooking, it pays to use the freshest of ingredients.
To make Alfredo Sauce for four people, you first need to melt ¼ cup of butter over a low heat. When it’s melted, add one cup of cream, and let it simmer on low heat for five minutes. Be careful not to let it boil, as the cream may separate.
Next, add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic, (depending on your tastebuds) and 1 ½ cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a little at a time. It pays to use the fresh cheese, as the prepackaged cheese does not melt smoothly (Ask your deli to finely grate it for you). Whisk this sauce quickly to ensure it all melts together smoothly. Finally, add ¼ cup of parsley, and stir to combine.
Finally, stir the Alfredo sauce through some al dente fettuccini, and you have a dish fit for Hollywood royalty! If you want to mix it up a little, stir some pan-fried chicken pieces into the sauce, or perhaps boil some broccoli florets in with the pasta for the last four minutes of cooking time, and then drain the pasta into a colander before stirring through the sauce. Buon appetito!