Giada de Laurentiis’ Lemony Fettuccini Alfredo

Sometimes, you just need creamy pasta–especially when the weather demands comfort food.

In spite of the ample amount of cream in this dish, lemon juice and zest brighten the whole thing up–and you can’t help but feel like you’re getting away with something as you dish up another forkful of heavy-cream-coated carbs, without the associated heaviness plastering you to your chair like the lead-filled protective apron the doctor drapes over you when it comes time to get x-rays.

I distinctly remember the first time my mother told me to add freshly grated nutmeg to ricotta cheese. I remember thinking, “Nutmeg? In cheese?” My understanding of the spice up until that point was pretty much exclusive to “pumpkin spice” flavored things. Though I was somewhat aghast at this idea, my mother informed me that this was, in fact, the traditional way to make lasagna–and my trust in her knowledge had handsome returns when it came time to eat. Needless to say, I’ve never looked back when it comes to adding nutmeg to savory dishes. A warming spice with an almost menthol-y personality, a little nutmeg goes a long way; but if you skip it, it’s often the “missing link” at the flavor party. The point is, don’t skip the nutmeg. Freshly ground is best. (That goes for all spices, all of the time, by the way. But that might be another blog post.)

I will say this is another recipe that truly is at its best when prepared right before dinner. The leftovers are, well, not a prime example of what the original dish can be–I’ll put it that way.

But if you’re having company, or even if you want to spruce up date night with your partner, this recipe has an element of indulgence, and the romance that pasta brings. (Why do I think pasta’s romantic? It might have something to do with this iconic scene, not gonna lie.)

this recipe tastes complex, but relies on a few “big player” ingredients–lemon, parmesan, and nutmeg…and of course, butter!

One of my favorite aspects of this recipe is, there’s no thickening agent to make the sauce coat the pasta, like cornstarch or flour. The sauce relies on the cream curdling slightly with the addition of lemon juice; then the flavor is softened slightly with the addition of a few pats of butter. What could be bad about that?

i even drizzled some sauce over my panfried chicken…because you can never have too much cream, right?

Giada de Laurentiis’ Fettucine Alfredo

Serves 6

  • 18 oz fettucine (fresh is yummy but dried is great too)
  • 2 ½ c heavy cream
  • ½ c lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 12 Tbs butter 
  • 2 c grated parmesan
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1-2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil (garnish)

Juice and zest lemons, and grate parmesan and nutmeg.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add fettucine and cook until al dente, 6-8 minutes, and drain in a colander in the sink. Do not rinse the pasta.

Stir 2 cups of cream and lemon juice into a heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Add butter and cook over medium heat until butter melts, about 3 minutes. 

Remove from the heat, add pasta, remaining ½ cup of cream, parmesan, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and toss until cheese is melted and pasta is coated. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper as needed, bearing in mind the parmesan contains a lot of salt.

Return pot to burner and warm over low heat, about one minute, or until sauce thickens to desired consistency. Plate with fresh basil and serve immediately. Simple steamed greens, salad, and meat are great compliments, as is a glass of white wine.

Simple Chickpea Ricotta Pasta

Are there things in your pantry that you tend to hoard? How about cans and dry goods that sit on the shelf for months at a time?

For me, one of those items is pasta. It’s hard for me to say “no” to a new experience, especially one costing only a few bucks–so when I pass by a new shape or brand of imported pasta in the grocery store, it usually ends up in the cart.

When the pandemic first started, like many people, I stocked up on nonperishable foods. This, coupled with a frankly obsessive amount of time spent scrolling through the New York Times’ cooking app, yielded some fruitful results, alerting me to recipes which I will no doubt be riffing off of for years to come. This is one of those recipes.

This dish is simple, so if one makes too many substitutions in terms of ingredients, it’s essentially a new dish–that being said, it could be made gluten-free by subbing wheat-alternative noodles. I have yet to come across a vegan ricotta substitution out there, unless one were to spring for some vegan cream cheese and whip it up with a dash of sugar.

But if you are a full-time or even part-time dairy eater, I say go for it and eat the dang ricotta! It’s a truly remarkable, natural compliment to pasta of any sort.

This recipe is great for easy weeknight dinner, or for a meat-free meal. Makes for an excellent lunch, also.

one item i’ve tucked away: squid ink pasta…

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. While that’s boiling, “bloom” the red pepper flakes along with a few cloves of garlic in a skillet with olive oil. Once the oil starts to change color and become fragrant, add drained chickpeas and sauté for a few minutes, until chickpeas are coated in spiced oil and warmed through.

Add cooked noodles, ricotta, some reserved pasta water, and a splash of quality olive oil to the pan and mix.

I added some cherry tomatoes–the last of the season!

Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and torn basil, adding salt and pepper to taste.

this made for a very satiating fall lunch

Simple Chickpea Ricotta Pasta

Serves 2

  • 8 oz pasta, or enough for two servings
  • 3 Tbs olive oil for sauteeing, plus 1 Tbs for final assembly
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ½ small lemon, for final assembly
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn, for final assembly
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-12 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain. 

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the first measurement of olive oil and red pepper flakes until the pepper has “bloomed” in the olive oil, about 2 minutes. (Oil should change color and become fragrant.) Add smashed garlic cloves and lower heat to medium, cooking just until they begin to lose their pearly white look, about 3 minutes. Add drained chickpeas and halved tomatoes and stir, coating everything in oil over heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the garlic has changed from white to translucent beige. 

Change heat to low and add drained pasta, ricotta, a squeeze of the half lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining 1 Tbs olive oil and stir everything together.

Plate with torn basil leaves and serve immediately. Pairs excellent with a buttery white wine or plain bubbly water, whichever you prefer.