Ellen Clifford
February 07, 2016 9:01 am
Image courtesy author

Happy National Fettucine Alfredo Day, y’all! I’m all about celebrating this one because Fettucine Alfredo was created for a woman. Sure, it was named for a man (don’t you just love patriarchal history), but it was invented for a lucky lady. Alfredo di Lelio was the fella. 1908 was the year. Italy was the country. Alfredo’s wife Ines was the woman for whom the dish was created. Ines was either pregnant, or had recently given birth–I have seen stories telling it both ways–and she had lost her appetite. Alfredo made the dish up to tempt her into eating again. A lavish concoction of noodles, cheese, butter, and cream, the dish was made in the trattoria run by Alfredo’s mother Angelina. So between the Angelina and Ines I am declaring this the pro-woman pasta day.

I am betting that not all of us have the time nor inclination to create make this the way Alfredo might have. Nor do we have handsome chefs making sure that our appetites are properly whetted. I have no idea if Alfredo was handsome or not, but hey, this is my fantasy. A classic fettucine alfredo is all about good ingredients and timing. Handmade pasta is boiled, while butter, cream, and cheese lie in wait. As soon as the fettucine (which means “little ribbon”) is al dente the you reserve a bit of the pasta’s cooking water and drain the pasta. Here’s the timing part: the hot pasta is put into a bowl with the butter, cheese, cream and some of the cooking water, and then tossed gently until all is melty and good.

Technically you should not be able to have pre-made Alfredo sauce. Not if you want to be authentic. It is a temporal dish. However, as I said this is the modern age. Not only can you buy jars of sauce, you can by refrigerated packaged sauce. You can buy pre-made noodles. And if you put them together yourself and add a couple of special enhancements you can have a dang fine meal without having to roll out your own pasta dough.

I know I am veering even further from authentic, but I ended up using this Porcini Mushroom Parmesan Alfredo Sauce by Three Bridges. You could use the regular alfredo sauce too but I have a great love of mushrooms. I did my best not to eat the little carton of it, straight-up with a spoon. Holy heck it is umami-rich and addictive. I bought some pre-made fettucine noodles too. However! I did gussy the dish up to make it special.

This is your fettucine hack! In addition to the noodles and sauce you will need freshly ground pepper, parsley, and some shredded cheese. I opted for some pre-shredded parmesan cheese from Whole Foods that was vegetarian. I would have gotten authentic parmigiano but that is made with rennet, rendering it non-vegetarian. If you are not vegetarian though, go for the authentic stuff.

Boil up the noodles according to package instructions. Drain, reserving just a tiny bit of the cooking water. Then toss it with the sauce you bought, a twist of black pepper, and just a splash of the cooking water from the pasta. Add more pepper if you want, then top with some of the shredded cheese and a bit of Italian flat-leaf parsley. The parsley really freshens the whole deal up. Oh, and I poured myself a celebratory glass of wine (it was this SIMI cab) to celebrate the general fabulousness pro-woman pasta. Bon appetit! Or should I say, buon appetite! Dig in.

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