In Hasty Gourmet, The Takeout writers offer reliable recipes that are dinner-party worthy with only a handful of ingredients and a minimum of effort.
Everyone should have a good alfredo sauce recipe at the ready. I spent years honing mine. It was when my kids were considerably younger and at peak picky eater stage, so “creamy pasta” became a staple. At that point, I didn’t even put garlic in it (due to pickiness), but the rest: butter? Cream? Cheese? Even small children couldn’t say no to all that dairy richness.
To this day, I often pull this recipe out when it’s 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday and dinner plans are still a mystery. You can add spinach or broccoli and/or a protein (chicken, salmon) to make a more complete one-pan-dinner dish. You can also prepare this with a pack of those fancy prepackaged raviolis (crab, mushroom), for a pretty spiffy meal in under 30 minutes. I even recently used a version of this as a white sauce on a pizza.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be pushing this so hard if I didn’t know from years of experience what an easy dinner it is. If you’ve never made a roux (butter mixed with flour, then whisked with milk until it thickens), the secret here is patience. My husband used to get fed up too quickly and then the whole sauce would curdle, which is a nightmare. You stand there and whisk that butter and flour and milk until it gets thick. That is an order.
Once the roux has thickened, you’re golden. Then, you add your creamy cheese and tons of parmesan. My husband the cheese snob likes to stand over the pan with the hand grater, but who else has that kind of tenacity? I say a prepackaged plastic tub of grated or shredded parmesan works just fine. My dash of nutmeg may be stronger than your dash of nutmeg, and personally I like to garnish with some fresh basil on top. You may like other things. But feel free to use this sauce as the base to make the alfredo of your dreams.
Makes enough to accompany 8 oz. pasta
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 cup plus 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 oz. cream cheese (Boursin is great)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A dash nutmeg
Sauté garlic in butter, then add flour and whisk together. Slowly add 1 cup milk, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Then add cheeses, oregano, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and continue to stir until thick. Add the remaining 1/2 cup milk, or a little more until sauce is at your preferred consistency. Serve quickly.