Sunday, February 23, 2014



 Excerpted from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke's "SUNDAY SAUCE"  When Italian-Americans Cook

   In the 60’s and 1970’s Fettuccine Alfredo was one of  the great favorite dishes on Italian restaurant menus throughout the country. It was in the late 80’s that the popularity of the dish started to wane for a couple of  reasons,  one being  the Genesis of the health movement in  The United States and two being the start towards more authentic Italian dishes and  the almost  total  disdain of the so-called cliché dishes, Fettuccine Alfredo being one of them.
    Being in the restaurant business, I have people request this dish to me several times a week. Let me tell  you, “this is the sign of a great dish, regardless of  what  anyone thinks otherwise.” Fettuccine is quick and easy to make. Once you know how to make the sauce,  you  will be able to make  a number of  other  dishes simply by changing or adding different ingredients.
    You can make Tortellini Panna by substituting tortellini for the fettuccine, add a few cooked veget-ables like mushrooms, peas, carrots, and broccoli florets and you have another hugely famous dish of the 70’s and  80’s,  “Pasta  Primavera”,  supposedly invented at Le Cirque by Sirio Maccione and still a popular dish there.
    It’s not on the menu and you have to be an insider to  order it. When I was a Sous Chef at Caio Bella Restaurant, one of the hot trendy restaurants of the late  80’s,  I used to make a dish called “Fettuccine Lemone” that only the regulars knew about. It was not on  the menu,  but if you were in-the-know  you could get it. I used to make this dish for a rich Oil Baron’s daughter from Kuwait and you can make it too simply by adding the zest from a couple lemons to the basic Fettuccine Alfredo recipe, and a few leaves of Fresh Basil is nice addition as well. Buon Appetito!

Daniel Bellino-Zwicke


1 lb. fresh Fettuccine
1 pt. heavy cream, ½ stick butter
1 cup grated Parmigianno
2 egg yolks, salt & pepper

1. Put the cream in a large frying pan. Bring to the boil,  lower the flame and let  the cream cook. Season the cream with salt  and pepper to taste.  Reduce volume by One-Third, this will thicken the sauce.

2. Cook the fettuccine and drain it. Put the fettuccine in to the pan with the cream. Add butter and stir.

3. Turn the flame off. Add egg yolks and Parnigianno and stir. Serve and pass around extra Parmigiano.

Note: You can make Fettuccine Lemone by adding the zest of two lemons to this recipe. Fresh basil is also another nice addition for the Lemone Sauce.


3/4 cup heavy cream
1 - 10 oz. Box Frozen Peas
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese or more heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 cup white mushrooms, caps only, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 cup zucchini, split lengthwise then sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 cup very small broccoli florets
12 pencil-thin asparagus, green part only, cut in 1-inch segments
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, peeled and finely chopped
10 to 12 leaves basil, chopped or shredded
1 cup canned, peeled plum tomatoes in 1/2-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of salt. Add the peas and boil for 3 minutes. Drain in a strainer. Run under cold water. Set aside.
In a small pot over low heat, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir well and let the sauce bubble gently until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
In an 8 to 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, toss them in the oil, and toast until very light brown. Be careful not to burn them.
Add the sliced mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, and asparagus and toss for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add a heaping tablespoon of salt.
While the water is coming to a boil, in a small skillet, heat 2 more tablespoons of olive. Add the garlic and basil and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the diced tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinding of black pepper. Stir, then cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes.
Put the spaghetti into the boiling water. Stir and cook at a full boil until slightly underdone. Drain in a colander, then return the spaghetti to the pot it cooked in or to the pan you will be tossing it in at table. Place over low heat.
Add all of the cheese sauce, all of the chives, and half the peas, half the sautéed vegetables, and half the tomato sauce. Toss well for 2 minutes over low heat. Add a little more Parmesan if the sauce needs thickening (or more to taste), or a few tablespoons of hot water if the mixture gets too thick. There should not a lot of sauce, just a coating.
To present the dish, pour the dressed spaghetti into a warm serving bowl, or divide it between individual pasta bowls. Top with the remaining peas, sautéed vegetables, and tomato sauce. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve with more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side.

Pasta Primavera alla Le Cirque

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