Tuesday, July 10, 2012

pasta alfredo with crab and broccoli

I know, you must be sick of alfredo recipes from me by now. I've given you plenty. (Heck, even the non-alfredo pasta recipes I've given you involve cheese. There is pesto on my horizons though, and I promise I will come out with a few cheese-less recipes at some point.) But here's the thing: pasta alfredo is dead easy to make, and infinitely variable. You can add any ingredients you like, or none at all. You can make the sauce fancier by caramelizing some onions and garlic first, like I'm doing here, or you can leave things be.

This variation is inspired by my standby in university, which was pasta with Club House alfredo sauce, frozen peas and fake crab. Fastest, easiest go to meal of university. Or at least the most frequent one I made. I've stuck with the fake crab (for the sake of my pocketbook), but upgraded everything else. Frozen peas have been switched for fresh broccoli, and I'm using my same basic alfredo sauce. The onions and garlic are just to add a little more dimension.

I don't get bored of this, really. It's just all about changing things up. I think you've got a few ideas on how to do that, by now.

Ingredients:
  • about 500 grams dry pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used a fusilli)
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup butter + 2 tsp butter
  • 1/2-2/3rds cups cream (again, I'm using a light 5% cream, but go with what makes you happy)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Directions
  1. In a medium skillet over high heat, heat 2 tsp butter. When the butter melts, add the onions and garlic to the skillet, and cook at a high heat, until the onions start to go brown. This takes awhile.
    • I used a 9" nonstick skillet, and it took about 10 minutes for the onions to begin to brown around the edges.
  2. As you continue to cook down your onions, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When it comes to the boil, add your pasta and cook according to package directions. Throw the broccoli in with the pasta and let them cook together.
    • I used fusili, which takes about 9 minutes to cook. So all the time directions here are based on 9 minutes of pasta cooking. If your pasta takes less than 9 minutes, put the broccoli in first. If it takes more than 9 minutes, add your broccoli with about 9 minutes left.
  3. While the pasta cooks, continue to caramelize your onions. They'll get really dark and yummy. You've already spent about 10 minutes cooking onions by now, expect at this point to spend another 10.
  4. When you have about three minutes of cook time left on your pasta, turn the heat down to medium on your onions and add the rest of the butter to the skillet with the onions and melt it down.
  5. Once your butter is melted, add the cream to the pan. You'll want to vigorously stir this to incorporate both elements. After everything's mixed up, let the mixture bubble for a bit - that's the part that allows the cream to thicken the sauce. Stir it now and again to make sure things don't burn on the bottom of your pan.
  6. Set aside about a cup of your pasta water.
  7. Drain your pasta.
  8. Add the cheese to your sauce. Mix it up a bit. Let the cheese dissolve.
  9. Add the pasta and broccoli (that you put in with the pasta) to the sauce. Mix it all around.
  10. Optional: If you feel like the sauce isn't coating the pasta well, add some of your pasta water, and continue to mix it up. This will thin your sauce a little bit more than it already is, but since alfredo is so heavy that doesn't bother me. You'll also get the bonus of the starch water helping your sauce stick to your pasta.
  11. Serve. Eat. Garnish with a little more parmesan.

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