Callie’s Cabin: Fettuccine Alfredo to thrill
Pasta is good. Fettuccine Alfredo is great. A simple dish (with roots from Rome) is made from fettuccine, Parmesan cheese and butter. I’ve enjoyed it at Italian-style restaurants at Tahoe, frozen in a box to pop in the microwave, and Alfredo sauce in a jar topped on linguini. But I discovered another route to a perfect plate of pasta.
Last fall I was booked for a Barnes and Noble bookstore signing in Anchorage, Alaska. Fantasies of eating fish and fettuccine (on the menu at a luxury hotel with a swimming pool and city view overlooking Cook Inlet) were on my agenda. Two days before my departure, the Alaska Dispatch News reported PR on my event but the Bering Sea Storm with “hurricane force winds and rare wind shear” was the story.
I called the tour guide named Lake. “It’s all good,” he said, adding I was the only one booked for the tour. I darted, “Turnagain Arm is flooded!” My exciting scenic road adventure the day after the signing had gone south thanks to the rain gods. I canceled.
I was relieved to escape rough air en route to the Pacific Northwest, but I felt sad that my journey to Alaska and food fest was toast. I whipped up a meal that included salmon and fettuccine Alfredo. My escapade in the kitchen wasn’t Alaska but it was a rewarding exploration.
Health Nut Fettuccine Alfredo
½ cup European style butter
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 cups organic half and half
1 teaspoon garlic, fresh, minced (optional)
Ground black pepper to taste
Oregano to taste (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh basil
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (a mix of Asiago and Romano make it better)
¼ cup pine nuts
½ pound fettuccine (or spaghetti), whole grain, cooked
½ cup broccoli spears (or zucchini), chopped, cooked (steamed or nuked)
In a skillet on medium heat, melt butter, add cream cheese, followed by half and half. Mix in spices and basil. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in cheese and remove from heat. Serve on top of pasta or fold in. Top with vegetables. Sprinkle with nuts and Parmesan cheese. Serves two to four.
Pair it with baked fresh wild Alaskan salmon fillets (ask your butcher how long to cook), and whole grain rolls with butter or dipped in olive oil.
This is not your mom’s fettuccine Alfredo — it’s got a 21st century earthy and exciting twist. A plain creamy fettuccine Alfredo is nice but adding vegetables for texture, herbs for extra flavor, and nuts for crunch makes it more fun, like a trip to Alaska. No, I didn’t see the Northern Lights or get an up close moose encounter, but the hot pasta with fish cooked properly thrilled me.
Motto: Adventure is what you make it, whether it’s at home or afar. As long as you go out of your comfort zone, new experiences can titillate the palate wherever you are.
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.