A handful of ingredients transform into perfect, creamy, cheesy pasta

Cheesy Pasta

This dish is so simple to make even kids can help.
Photo by Joe Keller/TNS

By America’s Test Kitchen

Pasta with just butter and cheese might seem simple, but it actually has a fancy name when served in restaurants — fettuccine alfredo.

To make this dish at home, use authentic Parmesan cheese from Italy (look for the Italian words “Parmigiano-Reggiano” on the rind of the cheese). When the cheese, butter, and reserved pasta cooking water are stirred into the just-drained fettuccine, the dish will appear very watery. But don’t fret: After a covered 1-minute rest and a vigorous stir, everything will come together in a creamy sauce.

Best-Ever Pasta with Butter and Parmesan Cheese

Serves 1 to 2

2 quarts water

4 ounces fettuccine or other long-strand pasta

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Pinch pepper (optional)

1. In a large saucepan, bring water to boil. Add pasta and salt. Cook, stir-ring frequently, until pasta is al dente (tender but still a bit chewy), 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Turn off heat. Transfer 1/4 cup cooking water to a liquid measuring cup. Drain pasta in a colander. Return drained pasta to the now-empty saucepan.

3. Add cheese, butter, and 2 tablespoons of reserved cooking water to the saucepan with the pasta. Return the saucepan to low heat.

4. Toss and stir constantly  to combine, about 30 sec-onds. Turn off heat, cover saucepan, and let pasta sit for 1 minute.

5. Toss and stir pasta constantly again until sauce thoroughly coats pasta and cheese is melted, about 30 seconds. (If the sauce is too thick, thin as needed with remaining cooking water, 1 table-spoon at a time.)

6. Transfer pasta to a bowl. Sprinkle with extra cheese and pepper (if using). Serve.

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