Christy Rost
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Pasta Dish A Recipe For Romance

Christy Rost |
2 min read

No matter the time of year, a bowl or plate of pasta makes me feel cozy inside. It’s the ultimate comfort food for busy weeks, chilly days, and romantic dinners a deux. If I want that meal to be a meatless one, I turn to one of my favorites – Pasta Alfredo.

When I see Pasta Alfredo on a menu, it always reminds me of romantic anniversary celebrations with my husband in a Houston neighborhood Italian restaurant. This elegant restaurant featured a wide menu, but their linguine with creamy Alfredo sauce was simply the best. Add a little candlelight and a glass of wine, and it was a recipe for romance.

This simple, but delectable one-pot dish is easy to make at home and requires only a few ingredients – your favorite pasta, a shallot, heavy cream, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and a garnish of chopped parsley. A surprising, but integral ingredient is the water in which the dry pasta is cooked. Once the pasta is al dente, which means “to the tooth”, I reserve two cups of the cooking water before draining the pasta in a colander. Many cooks dump the water without a second thought, but the cooking water is rich with flavor and starch from the pasta which ultimately helps to thicken the Alfredo sauce. Sauteed minced shallot, heavy cream, and a little of the pasta water are brought to a boil and cooked until the amount of liquid is reduced by half. As the liquid reduces, it concentrates the flavors and thickens into a silky Alfredo sauce. After seasoning the sauce with salt and pepper, the cooked pasta is transferred to the pot and gently stirred into the sauce minutes before serving.

Pasta Alfredo is divine on its own, but like risotto, it also provides a foundation for a more complex meal. Grilled shrimp or a sauteed medley of sweet bell peppers or mushrooms may be served alongside or gently stirred into the pasta just before serving. Big on flavor and comfort, Pasta Alfredo is a quick and easy dish that’s ideal for meatless meals as an entrée or side dish. Don’t forget the candlelight!

Pasta Alfredo

  • ½ pound dry linguine or other pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated for garnish
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley, stemmed and chopped, for garnish
  • Reserved pasta cooking water

In a large pot filled with water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Pour two cups of the pasta water into a heat-proof liquid measure, drain the pasta in a colander, and set it aside.

Heat the pot over medium heat, add olive oil and minced shallot, and saute 1 minute until it is fragrant. Add cream and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water. Stir, bring it to a boil, and cook until it has thickened and reduced by half, stirring occasionally. If the sauce has reduced too much or has become too thick, add a little more of the cream and pasta water, stir, and cook several minutes.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper and gently stir in the drained pasta. Heat several minutes, stirring frequently, until the pasta is hot. Transfer the pasta to serving dishes, top with any remaining sauce, and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Chef’s Note: Cover and chill remaining cooking water if there is leftover pasta. To reheat leftovers, pour a little of the pasta water and an equal amount of cream into a saucepan, bring to a boil, cook 2 minutes, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the leftover Pasta Alfredo, heat until hot, and serve.

Yield: 2 main servings or 4 side servings

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