Fettuccine Alfredo – Authentic recipe

I was curious to find out exactly what fettuccine Alfredo is. I’ve frequently heard it mentioned in American TV shows and movies, but I’ve never found anyone in Italy who has heard of it. So I did a little research and came up with this.

Alfredo's restaurant

Alfredo's restaurant

Fettuccine dressed with butter and parmesan has been eaten for hundreds of years in Italy. The story goes that in 1914 Alfredo di Lelio



had the bright idea to add a lot more butter. Apparently he thought it might help his heavily pregnant wife keep her lunch down. Just what you need when you’re feeling queasy, half a pound of butter ūüėČ With the help of a bit of nifty PR (courtesy of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford), the dish became popular in the US. Alfredo’s restaurant still exists in Rome and enjoys a great deal of custom from American tourists. Alfredo’s now also has three restaurants in the states. Over the years American chefs have amended the recipe to include cream.

This is the original recipe from Alfredo’s restaurant. The recipe is for 4 portions, but it’s sooo heavy, I reckon 6 would be nearer the mark.

By the way, it does taste very nice, but I think I can feel my arteries hardening as I type ūüôā

Fettuccine Alfredo ingredients

Fettuccine Alfredo ingredients

  1. Beat the butter and cheese together in a bowl until you get a smooth paste.
  2. Cook the fettuccine for  3 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta quickly and add to the bowl with the cheese and butter. You should allow a little of the cooking water to cling to the pasta.
  4. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve.
Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

Black tagliatelle with prawns

campania crestTagliatelle nere con gamberi. From Campania. You can get black tagliatelle in larger supermarkets or good delis. I made my own. Just add a sachet of cuttlefish ink to the basic pasta recipe.

Black tagliatelle with prawns ingredients

Black tagliatelle with prawns ingredients

Black tagliatelle

Black tagliatelle

Serves 4

  • 350g black tagliatelle (dried)
  • 450g chopped tomatoes or tomato pulp
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 400g prawns, shelled weight
  • a handful of rocket, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Fry the garlic cloves in the oil until lightly browned. Remove the garlic and discard.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook over a high heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the prawns and cook until the prawns are done. Not too long as you don’t want them to shrivel.
  • Stir in the rocket and serve with the cooked pasta.
Black taglatelle with prawns

Black taglatelle with prawns

Ragu alla Bolognese – Authentic recipe

Bologna crestIn truth there probably isn’t one authentic recipe for Ragu alla Bolognese, but this one is close enough. There are however countless inauthentic ones. It bears little or no resemblance to the dish known as Bolognese or Bolognaise found outside of Italy. It is also never served with Spaghetti!

On October 17, 1982, the Bolognese chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, “after having carried out long and laborious investigations and conducted studies and research”, announced the following recipe to be the official one. I’m sure that every family in Emilia Romagna has their own version though. Serves 4.

  • 400 grams fresh tagliatelle or fettucine
  • 300 grams minced beef – The recommended cut is thin flank aka skirt (finta cartella in Italian) but any good quality mince will do.
  • 150 grams unsmoked pancetta — minced very finely
  • 50 grams carrot — finely chopped or minced
  • 50 grams celery — finely chopped or minced
  • 50 grams onion — finely chopped or minced
  • 30 grams triple concentrated tomato pur√©e(if using double concentrated, increase the quantity by about a third, ¬†pur√©e¬†is known as “tomato paste” in the US)
  • 1/2 glass red or white wine
  • 180 ml¬†fresh milk
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Fry the pancetta gently in a little olive oil until it starts to release its fat. Be careful not to burn.
  2. Add the vegetables and fry until the onions are transparent, stirring from time to time.
  3. Add the beef and cook until it is lightly browned. When it starts to make popping noises, it’s done.
  4. Add the tomato puree and the wine and mix well.
  5. Add the milk, little by little until it is completely absorbed.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook very slowly for 3 to 4 hours.
  7. Stir occasionally and if it looks like drying out, add a little more milk.
  8. Serve with Fettuccine or Tagliatelle (NOT Spaghetti!)
  9. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side. Alternatively toss the pasta first in a little butter and then in Parmesan before adding the meat sauce.
  • Variation: The Academy allows the addition of Porcini mushrooms.
Bolognese finished dish

Bolognese finished dish

This is a more detailed explanation of the dish from Bologna Cooking School

A ragu Bolognese style is a meat sauce that is slow simmered for at least an hour to develop a complex flavor and proper thickness. Cooking the ragu in a heavy-duty enamel or similar pot will hold the heat steady and help to give a velvety texture to the ragu. Bolognese ragu is a classic sauce for lasagne and tagliatelle. The sauce also freezes beautifully.

Bolognese sauce (rag√Ļ alla bolognese in Italian) is a meat- and tomato-based pasta sauce originating in Bologna, Italy. It is typically made by simmering ground meat in tomato sauce, white wine, and stock for a long time (often upward of four hours), so that the meat softens and begins to break down into the liquid medium. The original sauce is not done with minced meat; instead, whole meat, usually beef or veal, is chopped with a knife.
Spaghetti alla Bolognese, or spaghetti bolognese which is sometimes further shortened to spag bol, is a dish invented outside of Italy consisting of spaghetti with a meat sauce. In Italy, this sauce is generally not served with spaghetti because it tends to fall off the pasta and stay on the plate. Instead, the people of Bologna traditionally serve their famous meat sauce with tagliatelle (‘tagliatelle alla bolognese). Outside the traditional use, this sauce can be served with tubular pasta or represent the stuffing for lasagna or cannelloni.

While “Bolognese” is undoubtedly the most popular rag√Ļ in this country, it is also the most misunderstood.
The rag√Ļ you get by that name is usually a characterless tomato sauce with pea-like bits of ground beef floating in it, bearing little resemblance to anything you’d find in Bologna.
And not, in any sense, a rag√Ļ.
True rag√Ļ alla Bolognese contains no tomato sauce ‚ÄĒ just enough fresh or canned tomato to add a hint of sweetness and another layer of flavor to a subtle, complex mix. Like all rag√Ļs, Bolognese is characterized by its long, slow cooking, which in this case starts with simmering the meat in milk (to mellow the acidity of the raw tomatoes added later) and wine (some use white, others red), after which the tomatoes are added. The whole lot is cooked together for about two hours

Tagliatelle with broad bean puree

Lagane con pure di fave. From Puglia. This is another example of la cucina povera or peasant food. It uses very frugal ingredients but the results are delicious. These dishes have enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently in Italy. Rightly so in my opinion. Serves 5

  • 500 grams tagliatelle (preferably fresh) (known locally as lagane)
  • 250 grams dried, skinned broad beans — soaked overnight
  • 50 grams onion — thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
  1. Put the beans into a saucepan and cover with twice the depth of water. Add salt (the original recipe called for a tablespoon!) and cook over a medium heat, without stirring, until the beans are very soft. Mash with a wooden spoon.
  2. Fry the onion in plenty of olive oil until they are starting to caramelize.
  3. Cook the tagliatelle al dente, drain and mix with the puree.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish, pour over the onions and their cooking oil and serve immediately.


Chickpea and tagliatelle soup

Matera crestMinestra di ceci from Matera. A few weeks ago some friends and I visited the beautiful town of Matera in Basilicata. After a very pleasant morning sightseeing we visited a restaurant that had been recommended in the ‘Slow Food’ guide – ‘Le Botteghe’ in Piazza San Pietro Barisano. Wonderful simple food. This is my attempt to recreate one of their specialities.

botteghe entrance

Chickpea soup ingredients

Chickpea soup ingredients

  • 250g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 150g fresh tagliatelle, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 30g smoked pancetta, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Fry the pancetta and garlic cloves in a little olive oil for a few minutes.
  2. Add the chickpeas together with a litre of water and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the rosemary, cover and cook over a moderate heat for around 2 hours.
  4. Remove the rosemary and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the taglietelle and cook for a further few minutes.
  6. This dish is sometimes served topped with fried breadcrumbs.

Variation: When the chickpeas are cooked remove half the chickpeas, liquidize them and return them to the soup.

Meatballs in tomato sauce

Polpettine al Sugo. A lot of people mistakenly think that this dish was invented in the USA, but although it’s not nearly as common here as it seems to be in the states, it is Italian through and through. It tastes even better heated up the next day. I served it with linguine(a bit of a crime: ragu should be served with a ribbon pasta such as tagliatelle) the first day and polenta the second, but it goes with pretty much every kind of pasta.

meatballs in tomato sauce ingredients

  • 300g¬† minced beef
  • 100g Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 4¬†sprigs¬†parsley, finely chopped
  • 2¬†cloves¬†garlic, finely chopped
  • 2¬†tbsp¬†parmesan cheese — grated
  • 1¬†egg
  • 30g dry bread crumbs
  • 1¬†onion, finely chopped
  • 500g passata
  • 1¬†handful¬†basil leaves, torn
  • olive oil
    1. Mix together the beef, sausage, the breadcrumbs moistened in a little water, garlic and parsley in a bowl. I find it easiest to use my hands. When it is well mixed, season with salt and pepper and mix in the egg.
    2. Form into small meatballs, about the size of a marble.


  1. Fry the meatballs in plenty of olive oil until they are evenly browned. Drain on Kitchen towels.
  2. Drain the excess oil from the pan, add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Add the passata and basil, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favourite pasta or with polenta.

meatballs in tomato sauce finished dish

meatballs with polenta


Now I’ve been here a while I realise that I’ve been very English and got things a bit wrong. :hangs his head in shame: The recipe above is still authentic, but the Italians don’t serve the meatballs with the pasta. They are eaten as the secondo.

Maryann puts it better than I can(see comments):

I think why most people say spaghetti and meatballs originated in American is that they eat it all on the same plate, in the same course. In my family, first the macaroni, then the meat from the sauce.

Tagliatelle with artichokes and anchovies

Tagliatelle con carciofi e acciughe. If you are unsure how to prepare the artichokes, click here. Serves 6
tagliatelle with artichokes and anchovies finished dish

tagliatelle with artichokes and anchovies finished dish


  • ¬†500 g fresh tagliatelle
  • ¬† 6 small artichokes
  • ¬† 1 lemon
  • ¬† 12 tinned anchovies in oil
  • ¬† 2 cloves garlic
  • ¬† 75 ml dry white wine
  • ¬† 100 ml vegetable stock
  • ¬† 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • ¬† 30 g butter
  • ¬† ¬†olive oil
  • ¬† ¬†salt and pepper
  1. Prepare the artichokes in the usual way. Slice thinly.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan. Fry the whole cloves of garlic until they are well coloured and then remove them from the pan. Drain the artichokes well and add to the pan. Fry for 5 or 6 minutes until they start to colour.
  3. Remove the artichokes and put to one side. Add the anchovies and break them up with a wooden spoon. When the anchovies have completely dissolved, return the artichokes to the pan. Add the wine and stock. Reduce the liquid to half over a high heat. Remove from the heat, seasons with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.
  4. Cook the tagliatelle. Drain and toss with the butter (optional). Add to the pan with the artichokes, mix well and serve immediately.


Tagliatelle with lemon

Tagliatelle al limone. Serves 4

tagliatelle with lemon ingredients

tagliatelle with lemon
  • 400¬†grams¬† fresh tagliatelle
  • zest of 3 lemons — grated
  • 50¬†¬†¬†grams¬† butter
  • 50¬†¬†¬†grams¬† single cream
  • parmesan cheese
  • salt
  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan until it starts to foam
  2. Add the zest from 2 of the lemons. When the butter is well flavoured with the zest, remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Cook the tagliatelle, drain and add to the Lemon sauce. Mix gently.
  4. Turn out onto a warmed serving dish. Sprinkle on the zest of the third lemon and plenty of parmesan.

Note: Use unwaxed lemons for this dish – see comments.

Taglietelle with lemon

Tagliatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu

Serves 4

tagliatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu ingredients

  • ¬† 500¬†grams¬† fresh tagliatelle
  • ¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† medium¬† carrot — roughly chopped
  • ¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†stick¬† celery — roughly chopped
  • ¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†medium¬† red onion — roughly chopped
  • ¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†medium¬† courgette — diced
  • ¬† 400¬†grams¬† italian sausage — skinned
  • ¬† 2¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†tablespoons¬† cream
  • ¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†glass¬† red wine
  • ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† olive oil
  • ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† salt
  • ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Fry the carrot, celery and onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes.l
  2. Add the courgettes and cook for a few minutes longer.
  3. Add the sausage and mix well. Season with salt and fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the wine and allow it to partially evaporate.
  5. Reduce the heat and cook for a further 20 mins
  6. Remove from the heat and add the cream
  7. Serve with tagliatelle and parmesan.

taglatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu finished dish