by Carey of Petite Kitchenesse
Do sauces get any better than Alfredo? (That was a rhetorical question.)
The story goes that Alfredo, or more accurately, Fettuccine Alfredo, was created in the early 1900s by Alfredo di Lelio—a restaurateur and expectant father whose pregnant wife had lost her appetite. After several failed attempts at creating appealing meals, Alfredo found success in an extra-buttery version of a fettuccine and Parmesan dish.
I believe that the beauty of an Alfredo sauce lies in its simplicity. I refuse to use a roux as a thickener – that’s what the cheese is for – and while I love garlic, I stick to the holy dairy trinity for my Alfredo sauce: butter, heavy cream, and cheese. And when keeping things simple, the key is to use the freshest, highest-quality ingredients found. Locally produced butter and cream are ideal, and a block of Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is an absolute must.
Now I know that the richness of Alfredo can be a concern for some of us, especially when it’s coupled with a big ol’ bowl of pasta. Lucky us, it’s fall, the season for the perfect pasta substitute: spaghetti squash – lower in carbs and calories, and quite possibly one of the coolest vegetables around. Bring on that Alfredo!
Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese & Shrimp Alfredo with Spaghetti Squash
by Carey of Petite Kitchenesse
Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese Alfredo sauce (recipe below)
1 medium-to-large spaghetti squash (3–4 lbs)
1 lb of 31–40 count shrimp
2 broccoli crowns, cut into spears
5–6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into discs
3 cloves of garlic, minced and divided in half
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife, carefully stab a decent number of holes over the surface of the spaghetti squash. (This will prevent too much steam from building up inside the squash as it bakes.) Place the squash in a baking pan, cover with foil, and bake for about 40 minutes, flipping once half-way through.
Sauté half the garlic, the carrots, and the broccoli in a pan, until the carrots have softened. In another pan, add the rest of the garlic and the shrimp and sauté until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove both from heat and set aside.
When the squash is ready, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 10–15 minutes. (I use this time to prepare the Alfredo.) Cut off the ends and slice open lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard (or set aside, if you’d like to roast them later). Using a fork, scrape the squash out in long spaghetti-like strands. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese Alfredo Sauce
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 1/3 cups grated Wisconsin Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cream and simmer for a few minutes. Add the Parmesan, then whisk for a few minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
Add the shrimp and vegetables to the spaghetti squash. Pour Alfredo over top, and then toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve immediately.
Notes: To get the sauce to thicken properly, you want the cheese to be grated as finely as possible. I run the block of cheese through the grating blade on my food processor, and then switch to the chopping blade and pulse until the cheese is very fine. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the cheese through the fine side of a box grater. Also, when I make Alfredo for spaghetti squash, I like to add a dash of nutmeg to the sauce, just because nutmeg + squash = tasty.