Awesome Fettuccine

Once upon a time (and by that, I mean up until a year ago), I worked the night shift at a newspaper. Working nights is great for lots of things: Sleeping in, avoiding pointless meetings, dodging the company Christmas party. It is not great for dinnertime. I took dinner at my desk most nights, eating whatever microwaved diet entree I had dug out of my freezer.

I lost a lot of weight while I was working at newspapers. Malnutrition and constant deadline pressure will do that to a person.

When I started working from home, I really wanted to start doing dinner justice again. I dug out my recipe card file and started tweaking recipes from my childhood. This is one of my favorites. My mom found the recipe in a Weight Watchers cookbook in the early 1990s; I kept most of the low-fat aspects of it, but added more veggies and meat and cut the pasta. Whenever Josh and I have this for dinner, there is no conversation. There is only the sound of chewing and the occasional grunt when one of us comes up for air as we empty the entire pan in five minutes or less.

Ingredients:

Half a package of fettuccine
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
4 teaspoons butter
4 ounces of cooked, diced pancetta (or ham from the deli)
2 cloves minced garlic
1-2 cups broccoli, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Boil the fettuccine until al dente. Drain and set aside; the cooked pasta should be equal to about 2 cups.

Combine the ricotta cheese and milk in a blender or food processor. Blend until combined, about 30 seconds. Do not skip this step. You may think you can whisk these ingredients together, but whisking doesn’t break down the cheese enough to make a smooth sauce. It’ll just separate as soon as it’s left to sit.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta and garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden, then add the broccoli and ricotta cheese mixture. Turn down the heat to low and stir the sauce until it begins to bubble. Add the cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese. Heat through and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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