Seafood Fettuccine

The next time you enjoy a plate of Fettuccine Alfredo, thank Alfredo Di Lelio who created this Italian classic for customers at his restaurant in Rome. Like many works of genius, Fettuccine Alfredo is remarkably simple: Make a sauce of butter, cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and mix with cooked fettuccine noodles.

Versions of this simple recipe are available in restaurants around the world. I have enjoyed Fettuccine Alfredo in many of them, and some versions were better than others, but I have never found one that I did not like–clearly not the observation of a gourmet but a statement of fact.

Here is a really simple way to make Fettuccine Alfredo with imitation seafood that we (and lots of friends) think tastes pretty good. A real chef might frown at this recipe, since the sauce ingredients are mixed directly with the pasta rather than being cooked separately and added to the noodles just before serving. A lazy cook like me, however, appreciates the fact that the way I make this dish takes less time and uses one less pan than the traditional method.

Since many versions of Fettuccine Alfredo were too rich for my tastes, I reduced the amount of butter and used half and half instead of whipping cream. We like the results and hope that you try it.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black or white Pepper
2 cups half and half
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more to pass at table
12 ounce package Imitation crab or lobster
12 ounce package fettuccine

PROCEDURE:

Bring the butter to room temperature. Put the water on to boil in a large pot for the fettuccine. Break or cut the seafood into bite size pieces and grate the cheese. If you like, this is a good time to make a simple garden salad or get the vegetables ready.

Warm the half and half in a measuring cup in the microwave. Cook the fettuccine just barely to al dente, following the directions on the package. Drain and return it to the pot and add the butter. Turn the heat to very low and stir the pasta to melt the butter and coat the noodles. Add the half and half and continue stirring.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, add the imitation seafood pieces, salt and pepper and continue stirring for a minute to mix with the sauce and make certain everything is warm. If the sauce is too thick, add some milk or half and half. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve with a garden salad, crusty bread and butter and a light white wine. Steamed broccoli or green beans also go well as a vegetable with this dish. Pass the Parmesan grater so guests may add a little more cheese if they want.

It’s not fancy, but it’s good. And only one pot!

NOTE: It is vital that the Parmesan cheese be freshly grated. Period. The coarsely grated Parmesan sold in the refrigerated section of your local supermarket might be okay, but I have not tried it. Since we generally have imitation seafood in the freezer, I defrost it in the microwave while the pasta is cooking. Try to have it at or near room temperature when you add it to the noodles.

VARIATIONS: Use shrimp instead of or in addition to the imitation seafood.

Sarah’s Salmon Sauce

My best friend and his wife at the University of Virginia had a baby daughter who has grown up to be a talented writer and the patient wife of a diplomat who travels the world, as well as a devoted mother and good cook.

Like my wife, Sarah believes in the “make do” school of cooking.  Here is what she wrote when I asked for more guidance on making her salmon sauce.  “I’m a great fan of experimentation….Sadly, some of the quantities are terribly lacking and I threw this together as “a little bit of this, a little bit of that, hmmm, how much of something do we have in the fridge?…”

Her explanation really describes how all recipes came to be.  Some overworked woman getting supper in the cave said to herself, “There’s not enough meat to go around, so I’ll just throw some of these leaves and roots in the pot” and the next thing you know, people were eating vegetable mammoth soup.

“Sarah’s Salmon Sauce” actually was named “Sarah’s Divine White Saurce” by her husband who first had it when they were living on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.  With her permission I have renamed it “Sarah’s Salmon Sauce” because when I make it, it is salmon colored and has salmon in it.  Maybe I put too much tomato pesto in it, but it is a delicious way to serve salmon.

INGREDIENTS:

2 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch (8 or 10) green onions
1 medium or 2 small Zucchini
3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 can cream of asparagus soup
Fresh ground black lypepper
1 T sour cream
1 T tomato pesto
Two shakes hot sauce
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 lb. salmon fillet
Spice rub for fish
1 to 2 tsp. capers

PROCEDURE:

Rub the fillets with your choice of spice rub and grill or sauté them until done,  Remove from heat.  Wash and finely chop the parsley, discarding the large stems.  Mince 3 large cloves of garlic and clean and chop the onions. Clean and chop the zucchini into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a tablespoon of  oil in a 3 ot 4 quart pan and sauté the garlic and onion for about two minutes.  Add the zucchini and sauté for another minute.  Add the soup, half and half, sour cream, pesto, capers and about 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Drain the water chestnuts and add them to the sauce.  With a fork break the fish into bite-sized flakes and add them to the sauce.  Stir in about a quarter teaspoon hot sauce and the parsley.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve over rice or pasta with bread and a green salad.