Pasta with butter and cheese was rare for us when we first started eating whole food. With so many new foods to experiment with, we focused mainly on experimenting whole grains and fresh vegetables. (I also used to limit my carbs, so pasta was considered the enemy at one point.) But those days are over, and our “moderation is key” approach has us experimenting with whole wheat pastas studded with veggies. Plus — newsflash — butter’s back to being good for you.
Instead of the typical cream-based alfredo sauce we’re used to here in America, this fettuccine alfredo uses the “traditional” method: tossing the warm pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, which melts into a gooey, savory sauce. We’ve added spinach here to pack in some nutrients; you also could use other greens like tender arugula (just make sure it’s not too spicy!).
Funny story: we originally made this dish with arugula, and when we went to test it a second time, somehow the arugula didn’t get completely washed. We took our first bite and CRUNCH. It was literally like eating sand. The entire pot ended up in the trash. Lesson learned. (And in the end, we also changed the arugula to spinach since the spicy flavor overpowered the dish. Another lesson learned).
We hope you enjoy this take on classic Italian comfort food! We’ve used whole-wheat pasta here, but you could certainly use gluten-free if you have allergies.
We got our arugula and spinach at Indy Winter Farmer’s Market - if you’re local, make sure to check out the market as it’s packed with greens of all kinds.
- 1 pound whole wheat fettuccine pasta (or gluten-free if desired)
- 1 bunch spinach (6 to 8 cups)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Fill a large pot with water and add several pinches of kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil and add the fettuccine.
- Meanwhile, wash the spinach and remove any large stems. Cut 6 tablespoons butter into small pats. Grate 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese.
- When the fettuccine is al dente (cooked, but still a little firm), reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Then drain the pasta into a strainer.
- Return the pot to the stove and add a small amount of the pasta water (about ½ cup). Add the spinach and cook until bright green and wilted, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on the firmness of your spinach). Then add the pasta and toss thoroughly to combine.
- Add the butter, half of the Parmesan cheese, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Continue to toss the pasta until the butter and cheese form a sauce. As necessary, pour very small amounts of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce. Then add the remainder of the cheese and toss until integrated. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately.