It's a Friday in Lent! Time for a meatless meal. I don't know about you, but I'm personally really burnt out with cooking. The kids really have me feeling defeated in the kitchen because every single thing I have cooked this week has been met with at least one of the following comments upon serving (and I quote): Blech! Yuck! Ewww! That's not my favorite! I don't want to eat that!
I swear I'm not a bad cook. My kids think I am though.
So tomorrow, I am doing something so simple and basic that the children are sure to not turn up their little noses. Alfredo sauce served over macaroni. Because that's really all Alfredo sauce is, right? Fancy cheese sauce. I could certainly dress the meal up by sauteeing some shrimp in a bit of butter and then tossing it together with the noodles and sauce OR roasting some vegetables with garlic and herbs and then throwing them into the noodles as well. But then the children certainly wouldn't eat it. And tomorrow I just want them to eat, to not complain, and then to go to bed on time so I can finally relax.
Thankfully, Elise posted this marvelous recipe for a Make-Ahead Alfredo Sauce. It can be prepared and then refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for even longer. I just whipped this up while I was already in the kitchen earlier in the week preparing a different meal and it is currently taking up shelf space in the fridge just waiting for its Friday evening debut for the children. I'm lucky there was some left to store. I kept eating it by the spoonful because it's pretty amazing. But what Alfredo Sauce isn't?!
I love how customizable this recipe can be. You can make a pretty pure Alfredo Sauce or you can branch out to create a luxurious, cheesy concoction more suitable for your tastes. Add Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, or a combination. Throw in some minced fresh herbs or dry mustard. Add some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to kick up the heat a bit. There are so many ways you can amp this recipe up. But the single best part is that it can be made ahead of time and then reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop for a quick, easy dinner. I'm in love.
Of course you do realize that the kids probably won't touch this either. If that's the case, I'm definitely adding some vegetables!
Make-Ahead Alfredo Sauce
from Simply Recipes
Note: This makes enough sauce for 16 ounces of pasta lightly dressed. If you like it a little cheesier, make a double batch!
1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus extra as needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (3 to 3 1/3 ounces)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
First, warm the milk in the microwave in 30-second increments on HIGH. The milk does not have to be boiling, just warm to the touch and a bit steamy. Set aside.
Make a roux by melting the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over top, then whisk together well. Continue to cook the roux, whisking constantly for 1 minute. The roux will begin to smell toasty and turn a golden hue.
Whisk in the warm milk by adding about 1/4 cup of the warm milk to the roux at a time. Never stop whisking. The roux will seize up into clumps and look terrible, but all will be well as long as you keep whisking. continue adding the milk in small increments until it all has been added. Continue cooking the sauce over medium heat, whisking constantly, for the next 3-5 minutes. When the sauce is ready it will have the appearance thick and silky appearance of heavy cream.
Once this happens, turn off the heat and add all the cheese at once. Whisk until the cheese has melted into the sauce and is no longer visible. At this point, the sauce should look quite thick and creamy.
You can return it to the heat and cook it a little longer, whisking occasionally, to let it thicken a little more if you like, but it's better to err on the side of a too-thin sauce at this point. It will thicken a bit more when you reheat it after storage.
Transfer the sauce to storage containers (I like to use a glass Mason jar) and cool completely. A skin will form on the surface of the sauce and the sauce will thicken to a paste-like consistency; this is normal. Refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to a month.
To reheat the sauce from frozen, transfer it to the fridge to thaw overnight before reheating.
Transfer the sauce into a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Gently warm over low heat, or in 30-second bursts in the microwave, until warmed. Stir occasionally, or between every 30-second burst in the microwave. It will start off very thick and paste-like, but will soften and return to a sauce as it warms. If the sauce seems too thick, whisk in a splash of milk, broth, or water until the sauce is as thinned as you like.
Use reheated sauce immediately: Toss with cooked pasta or pour over cooked vegetables, chicken, or fish.