Making a white-sauce pasta dish from scratch is one of my favorite cooking activities. There are several variations to this meal – with or without pesto, egg yolks, wine, etc – but this is its most basic form, and a great starting point.
This recipe calls for rice pasta, but if you’re not Paleo(ish) like me, you can use regular pasta. I’ve found that although most people associate alfredo sauce with fettuccine, mixing up the pasta shapes can really add some variety to the dish as well.
12oz cooked pasta
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken pieces
2 cups veggies (recommend broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, or artichokes)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups parmesan/romano/asiago blend
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cloves chopped garlic
salt/pepper to taste
Your first step is to prep the pasta’s ingredients. You’ll want to boil the pasta a couple of minutes less than its directions (since it will cook a little bit more later), strain it in a colander, and rinse it in cold water. Drizzle a tbsp or so of olive oil onto the rinsed pasta and mix it together (this keeps the pasta from sticking together while you cook the rest), set aside. Steam or prep whatever veggies you’d like (steam the broccoli, slice the mushrooms, etc) and set aside.
Next, melt some butter in a pan on medium heat, add the garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant. Stir in the cream.
You’ll want to keep the cream on medium heat, constantly stirring. This is usually when I add salt and pepper to taste, paying special attention to add lots of pepper. Wait until it starts to bubble up, which is a signal that it’s ready.
Stir in the pasta and chicken, stirring occasionally, and wait for the cream to bubble up again. If you’re using mushrooms, add them with the chicken/pasta to give them time to soften. Once the cream is ready, add the veggies and 1 cup of the cheese blend.
Continually stir the dish until the cheese melts and thickens the cream.
Lastly, turn the heat off and add the sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. I usually put a lid on it and put it in the center of the table, so that I can make a big reveal and have the guests scoop out their portion themselves.
I’ll probably explore some variations later down the line on the site, but it’s a good idea to practice your timing with a simpler dish like this. This is also a great dish to make in excess, as its leftovers are just as tasty the next day.