Midnight Alfredo with Broccoli

Okay, okay, it wasn’t midnight. It was around nine, but it felt like midnight.

This recipe produces a very rich alfredo sauce that might be a little more watery than what you’re used to. The flavor is light, but powerful. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients; trust your nose! Cooking is an organic process and recipes are designed to change—and I’d love to hear about any modifications you do for this one!

Speaking of organic processes, I have to recommend that you try to find the freshest ingredients possible. The closer to your home that they’re grown, the better. And—it’s true—organic isn’t a bad idea either.

I know cost is a concern for many people (it is for me, too). But don’t worry! By buying smart and cooking more of your food at home, you can end up saving money.

Not only that, but 80 cents out of every dollar spent on produce from local farmers markets or produce stands goes directly to the farmer. Only 20 cents ends up in their hands when you purchase your produce at chain grocery stores, including Whole Foods.

Whole Foods’ redeeming quality is that they do feature a lot of locally grown produce (look for the orange or yellow signs). If you can’t find local produce at your grocer, ask. It does make a difference.

Enough about that. Let’s cook. (Recipe after the jump.)

Buy these:

Butter

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Grated Parmesan cheese

One small-ish head of broccoli

One pint of half-and-half (can be substituted with heavy cream)

One large garlic clove (or the equivalent in smaller garlic cloves)

Black pepper

A little bit of salt

Pasta (unless you want to drink the sauce, which I doubt.) The pasta steps aren’t included in this recipe because I tend to have leftover pasta that I just reheat (I used fusili for this). But if you’ve never tried whole wheat pasta, this recipe is good for first-timers. Follow the instructions on the pasta box before you start the sauce, and then put the pasta aside until the last step.

Do this:

  1. Heat about a half cup of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. While it’s melting, mince the garlic. I’ve found that organic garlic cloves are much harder to peel than conventionally-grown, but put in the time. The taste is more pure. Also, chop your broccoli now. Tiny pieces are always nice in an alfredo, but go ahead, go nuts!
  2. When the butter has melted, stir in the minced garlic and almost the whole pint of half-and-half. Also, add about five shakes of the pepper, depending on how fast it comes out. You want a good cloud of black in the middle of the sauce.
  3. Raise the heat under the saucepan until it’s simmering.
  4. Add three handfuls of the shredded mozzarella, and about a half cup of the grated Parmesan. Now is the time you’ll want to stir pretty regularly; we don’t want the cheese to, for lack of a better word, clot.
  5. Stir in the chopped broccoli.
  6. Stir frequently for about eight minutes. Smell the sauce often and add more of what you feel is missing. The one I did tonight could have used a few dashes of salt. Now would be a good time for that.
  7. When it smells ready, pour it carefully over whole wheat pasta. I recommend using a bowl for this; some liquid can accumulate at the bottom, but that’s okay.
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