Its Saturday afternoon. Between the weekdays and Sunday church, today is the only day when we can sleep in late. So when we wake up, we wake up with a pretty ravenous appetite. Generally Mohit makes a pretty mean brunch with bacon, eggs and milkshakes. But since bacon and eggs don’t sit well with me now and since I was in the mood for fancier fare, I thought why not some pasta. So I went into the kitchen and whipped up a very simple Mushroom Alfredo Fettuccine. This pasta tastes so good that my very non vegetarian, hates everything vegetarian husband had two servings of it.
Let’s talk about pasta and sauces. There are so many varieties of pasta-: Penne, farfalle , spaghetti, macaroni, linguini, fettuccine, rigatoni, lasagne and so many more. The beauty of pasta is that, the pasta itself provides such a different taste to every dish. For example-: Alfredo Fettuccine and Alfredo Spaghetti taste different. Fettuccine make the dish more meaty and hearty where as the spaghetti makes it more delicate. So each pasta provides a different bite and texture to the dish.
Now the sauces. There are 6 types of basic sauces-:
1. Butter or oil based sauce-: A southern Italian classic base sauce with little more than olive oil and garlic. Butter in simple herbs provides a very mild but luscious sauce
2. Vegetable sauce-: A mix of local vegetables in a basic olive oil sauce.
3. Pesto sauce-: The classic sauce of Genoa, made from fresh basil, cheese and pine nuts in a simple basic olive oil sauce.
4. Cream/ Cheese based sauce-: This sauce is a hearty, thick sauce which uses cooked flour and cheese as a thickening agent ( macaroni and cheese) of just cheese in a wonderful cream sauce ( Alfredo )
5.Tomato based sauce-: Garlic, onions, carrots and celery sautéed in olive oil and stewed with tomatoes and fresh herbs. This is the most common and the most versatile of sauces.
6. Meat based sauce-: This sauce is made with meat browned in flavourful olive oil and a few tomatoes. Its hearty, meaty and extremely tasty.
So now that we have covered the basics of pasta and sauces, let’s get on with the recipe. If you don’t have Fettuccine, just use spaghetti. It will still be a fantastic dish that will keep you diving back in for more.
•3 cups of sliced mushrooms
•10 large cloves of garlic diced into small pieces
•3 shallots diced into small pieces
•1 cup heavy cream
•1 cup whole milk
•1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•4tbsp of unsalted butter
•salt to taste
•pepper to taste
•Box of Fettuccine Pasta
• Fresh Parsley for decoration
1. Bring water to boil in a pot large enough to contain the pasta. Season it with enough salt. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and let it cook. Once its cooked, reserve 2 cup of the starchy water and then strain the pasta and keep aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, in another pot, sauté the mushrooms in olive oil. season it with salt and pepper. The water from the mushrooms will start releasing. Do not let it evaporate. When it is half cooked, reserve the mushroom with its liquid.
3. In the same pot, sauté the garlic in 4tbsp of butter over medium low heat. When the garlic cooks half way through, add the shallots and sauté it till its translucent. This is the basic flavour profile. The shallots are mild and not overpowering like onions and the garlic provides a nice undertone to the sauce. So make sure not to burn the garlic and the shallots as this will make the sauce bitter and give it a burnt after taste.
4. Once the shallots and garlic has cooked all the way through, add the half cooked mushroom along with all its juices.
5. Add the cream and milk to the above mix and bring to a gentle simmer.
6. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir well. Since the cheese is salty, taste and add salt only at this stage. Adding salt anytime before this ( other than while sauteing the mushrooms) will make the sauce too salty. If you think the Parmesan is too overpowering, just add a little more cream to mellow it down.
7.Keep stirring the sauce and scraping the bottom of the pan as the cheese can sink to the bottom and stick to the pan.
8.Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce and let it sit for 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken and coat the pasta properly.
9. Serve hot with a light sprinkle fresh parsley above.
To include chicken in this dish, dice chicken into bite sized pieces. Saute it with a little salt and pepper and cook all the way through. Reserve the chicken and any broth released from the chicken. Add it to the sauce mixture after adding the mushrooms.