I crave creamy pasta pretty much constantly. There is nary a time I would turn it down, and I often search high and low for an acceptable version. If we are to go out for Italian, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t want to dine at the “authentic” Italian place full of red sauces and uber-thin crust pizza. I want to go to the American-Italian joint that serves noodles drenched in creamy cheese sauces, garlic bread, and crappy iceburg lettuce salads with ranch dressing.
I know, I know. I’m a bad foodie. I’ll say 20 Hail Mary’s and whap myself with a Le Creuset spatula.
Since I like to dine at these less-than-reputable “Italian” eateries, it shouldn’t surprise you that I sometimes leave disappointed. And it’s always for the same reason: the pasta sauce. I like my alfredo cheesy and thick. Not under-salted, not bland, and not runny, as lots of restaurants serve.
It should cling to the noodles, wrapping them in a thin layer of salty creaminess. This sauce’s hint of blue cheese is more of a flavor enhancer than the dominant taste—a sauce of entirely blue cheese would be too rich. Instead, it plays up the decadence of the sauce while keeping it interesting. I like to add chicken, peas and broccoli to this pasta, but feel free to play around with whatever combination you like best.
If you’ve never attempted a creamy sauce at home before, don’t be scared—it’s so easy. And once you learn how, the possibilities are endless. The flour and butter mixture that you’ll start with (called a roux) serves as a sauce thickener. Just stir in your milk and cheese, season, and you’re ready to eat. Easy enough for a last-minute meal, but tasty enough to serve to your family every night of the week.
Well, not every night. But once in a while as a decadent, fattening pasta treat.
This little one can’t get enough. But she needs not watch her girlish figure. No you can’t read her pasta face…
Best of all, we eat it together at home at the dinner table. No crappy Italian restaurants, no overpriced check, and no disappointments.
Blue Cheese Chicken Alfredo
The blue cheese flavor in this pasta isn’t overwhelming—it just gives the sauce a nice tang. For some, this recipe may make more sauce than you’d like to use in one batch of pasta. If so, reserve some of the sauce for another use. Yield: 6 servings.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 c milk
- 1 c half and half
- 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 c blue cheese crumbles
- 1 lb fettucini or other flat pasta
- salt and pepper
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink in the center, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cook broccoli and peas, stirring occasionally, until broccoli turns bright green and peas are no longer frozen, about 2 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a plate.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly, until a smooth paste is formed. Stir in the milk and half and half and bring just to a simmer, stirring frequently. Stir in cheeses and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you would like the sauce thicker, keep sauce simmering for a few more minutes, stirring frequently. If not, remove from heat.
Toss sauce with pasta, chicken and vegetables. Serve garnished with parmesan or blue cheese.