Pasta in bianco, pasta with butter, pasta with oil: called in different ways, it can be said to be the fastest pasta recipe; it is always believed that fewer ingredients means easier execution, but it is in the easiest things that error creeps in. And on pasta, mistakes are not allowed, although a recipe made with love is always good.
Pasta in bianco has been served as far back as the 1200s, and since the 1500s it has been in cookbooks under the name maccheroni romaneschi thanks to Martino de’Rossi, a Lombard cook serving in the Vatican and Rome, who included it in his famous Liber di coquina, spreading the recipe in Lazio.
The most famous plain pasta recipe ever: Fettuccine Alfredo
The recipe that holds true today, however, is known as fettuccine Alfredo and is named after the Roman innkeeper Alfredo di Lelio, from Trastevere to be precise, who in 1908 invented the world’s most famous butter pasta and which his granddaughter Ilaria continues to serve in the Il Vero Alfredo restaurant in Piazza Auguro Imperatore, Rome.
How did the recipe come about? Alfredo, at the birth of his son Armando, decided to cook for his wife who had just given birth a simple dish that could help her get her strength back.
The original recipe calls for hand-pulled fettuccine, but we, who called it simply pasta in bianco, will use simple pasta that you can find in the supermarket and realistically have in your pantry in the emergency situations mentioned above.
Recipe (for one serving)
- 4.4 oz of handmade and thinly rolled fettuccine
- 1.4 oz of high-quality butter
- 2.8 oz of young Parmigiano Reggiano, aged just 16 months, to melt when in contact with the hot butter, creating the famous creamy sauce.
When the water boils, add salt (here are our tips to not miss this delicate step), add the pasta and drain it when it’s “al dente” – but not too much.
Mix it strictly off the heat, in a preheated bowl, stirring the fettuccine with a spoon and fork so they soak up the sauce.
Optionally, add freshly ground black pepper.
Classic “Pasta in Bianco” Recipe (serves four)
- 14 oz spaghetti or egg fettuccine
- 5.3 oz butter
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta in abundant salted water and drain it when it’s very “al dente.”
Put it in a very hot bowl and mix in 1.8 oz of butter, stirring well with a large fork.
Once the butter is completely absorbed by the pasta, moisten it with a couple of spoonfuls of pasta cooking water and add the remaining 1.8 oz of butter.
Mix again until the butter is well incorporated with the pasta. Only at this point, add the remaining butter and more cooking water to obtain a creamy consistency.
Mix well and serve the pasta very hot with pepper and plenty of grated cheese.
Tips for making tasty “Pasta in Bianco”
The butter should be incorporated in small portions to allow the pasta to absorb the butter and cheese fats.
The amount of cooking water should be sufficient to create a creamy sauce and allow its heat to melt the butter and cheese and combine them with the pasta’s starches.
The bowl. The ideal way to dress the pasta is in a warm bowl: the pasta not only needs heat but also space to be mixed and thus allow the butter and cheese to combine with the pasta.
To warm the bowl, fill it with boiling water.
Leave the water in the bowl for a few minutes, then remove the water and dry the bowl.
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