What's the easiest, cheapest dinner you turn to when in a pinch? A box of pasta and a jar of sauce, right? Yeah, me too, until I learned to turn a box of noodles into a celebrated meal, minus the jar. With some help, of course.
Way back in the 80s, when I was a mere teen, my BFF's mom, Pam, used to make a fettuccine alfredo that would knock our aerobics socks right off. She'd cook the pasta, al dente, of course, saving about a cup of pasta water to use in lieu of heavy cream. This trick, which I would later learn is commonplace, was embedded in my brain by Pam's firm instructions to whoever was manning the pasta pot: "SAVE THE PASTA WATER! DO NOT THROW AWAY THE PASTA WATER!" Boy was she right.
A while back, I found what I thought was a version of Pam's recipe in Real Simple Magazine (which calls for broccoli). I read the recipe to my friend who confirmed my suspicions. I tried it out and while it'll never taste quite the same as Pam's, it's pretty darn close.