Alfredo basil sauce is a snap to whip up - in 30 minutes, dinner is served. This sauce is creamy, with a hint of garlic, and the fresh basil takes it over the top.
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Where did alfredo sauce originate?
Italy is where it has its roots, but the sauce there is different from its American variation. The authentic version has butter, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and pasta water to help thicken it.
How can I thicken this?
There are a few different ways to thicken alfredo sauce. Pick a combination of the following.
- Use a roux. It's made from equal parts butter and flour cooked together until smooth and lightly browned.
- Remove it from the heat and allow to cool.
- Add 2 tablespoons of pasta water.
- Add 2 ounces of cream cheese.
Why is it separating?
The most common reason is the heat is too high and possibly the milk has scorched. When making a cream sauce, like alfredo, don't ever let it boil. If this happens, the butter will separate from the rest of the sauce.
Why is my alfredo sauce grainy or gritty?
When your cheese curdles in the cream sauce, it can take on a grainy or gritty texture. To avoid this from happening, grate the cheese with a microplane, add it slowly to a mixture that isn't too hot. The heat needs to be medium low, or the saucepan can even be taken off the heat entirely.
How can I fix a broken sauce?
- If you catch it starting to curdle when adding the cheese, immediately halt the cooking process by placing the saucepan in an ice bath.
- If it has broken or separated, take ½ cup of heavy cream and simmer it until it has reduced by one third. Slowly drizzle in the reduced cream while vigorously whisking.
- Whisk one egg yolk with a tablespoon of water, wine or stock, and constantly whisk it then add one tablespoon at a time until a fresh elmusion happens and a stable sauce emerges.
What sides can I serve with this recipe?
- Dinner rolls
- Tomato olive salad or cucumber salad
- Roasted asparagus or grape tomatoes
- Fresh kale or baby sweet red peppers
How can I use this?
- on top of pasta (fettuccine, tortellini, ravoli)
- in a casserole with chicken, broccoli, and penne
- for a dipping sauce
- on pizza instead of a marinara
- on roasted broccoli, cauliflower, or potatoes
How long does this last?
If stored in the fridge in a jar with a tightly fitting lid, this should last up to 5 days. When ready to use, pour into a pan on low heat and slowly heat it up stirring often. It is best to only reheat it once.
Can this recipe be frozen?
Unfortunately, creamy sauces don't freeze well, because when it is thawed and reheated, it looses its original texture. The sauce separates and doesn't look as it once did.
What kind of variations can I use?
- Omit the fresh basil and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of pesto.
- Try Romano or Asiago instead of Parmesan.
- Add cooked baby shrimp instead of the roasted tomatoes.
- Add chopped asparagus or spinach with lemon zest.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Slice the spring onion, grate the Parmesan, and mince the garlic.
Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic.
Saute the onion until it's soft, then add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
Reduce the heat to medium, sprinkle on the flour, and whisk for two minutes so the flour can cook.
Deglaze the pan by pouring in the white wine and whisking until the pan is clean of browned bits.
Slowly pour in the heavy cream while whisking.
Add the chicken stock and whisk it into the mixture.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, then add all the grated Parmesan cheese or some other hard cheese like Romano or Asiago.
Keep whisking until all the cheese is melted. Simmer for 5 minutes, so it can thicken. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of pasta water if needed to further thicken it.
Reduce the heat to low and occasionally stir it while waiting for the pasta to cook or the tomatoes to roast.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Cover a small baking tray with foil. Rinse the grape tomatoes and spread them out.
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until soft and collapsed.
As you can see, it will thicken up as it cools.
When you're ready to serve, stir in some freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
As the finishing touch, add the freshly chopped basil.
Cook the tortellini according to package directions, reserve some pasta water to thicken, if needed, then drain and rinse under cold water. Add all the cooked pasta to the alfredo basil sauce.
Toss the tortellini gently with the alfredo sauce using a large wooden spoon.
Just before serving, add the roasted grape tomatoes and sprinkle on some grated Parmesan cheese.
- Don't want the extra carbs? Serve it over zucchini noodles, broccoli, or chicken.
- Need a lighter version? Reduce the cream to 1 cup, use 1 cup of half and half, and low fat cheese.
- Can't have flour? Use ½ cup butter, 1 cup heavy cream, and 2 cups Parmesan, some pasta water, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Want to add more spice? Try a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg or take it up a notch with crushed red pepper flakes.
- Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese, don't use pre-grated or the powdered Parmesan.
- Need to reheat? Use the stovetop on a low temperature. If microwaved, it will become oily and will separate.
- Emeril Lagasse Skillet: this heavy-bottomed pan cooks evenly and doesn't burn food very easily.
- Stainless Steel Whisks: we love these sturdy whisks for making smooth sauces.
- Cheese Grater: this sharp grater makes it quick and easy to grate cheese for this recipe.
- 9x13 Baking Tray: this small cookie sheet is the perfect size for roasting grape tomatoes.
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Alfredo Basil Sauce
For the Basil Alfredo Sauce
- 2 tablespoons green onions, white part only, sliced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup white cooking wine
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Pasta & Garnish
- 20 ounces three cheese tortellini
- 1-2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking the Pasta & Tomatoes
- Boil the tortellini in a large pot of salted water according to instructions on the package. Reserve some pasta water, then drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water.
- Preheat the oven to 450 F and line a small baking tray with foil. Rinse the grape tomatoes and spread them out on the tray. Bake for 9 minutes, or until very soft.
Making the Basil Alfredo Sauce
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter then saute the onion for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then sprinkle on the flour and whisk it in for a couple of minutes to let it cook off the raw taste.
- Whisk in some white wine, and cook off the alcohol for a minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the heavy cream until smooth, then add the chicken stock and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then mix in the chopped basil. If it needs thickening, pour in 1 to 2 tablespoons of pasta water. Remember, the sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Sprinkle with some black pepper and garnish with mini basil leaves.
- Gently stir the cooked tortellini into the sauce until it's evenly coated in the alfredo. Add the roasted tomatoes and serve.
- Don't use pre-grated Parmesan, use freshly grated.
- Use the stovetop on a low temperature to reheat. If microwaved, the dish will become oily and will separate.
This post was originally published on October 26, 2017.