Penne Alfredo Carbonara (The easy, cheaters way - in honor of my 17 year old daughter)

My favorite pasta sauce is a homemade Alfredo sauce that I add something to, depending on what sounds good at the time.  Easily whipped up with a little butter, cream, garlic and cheese, I can add bacon, basil, smoked cheese, fresh peeled shrimp, broccoli, tomatoes... etc. etc.  However, I have a 17 year old daughter whose favorite food is Fettuccine Alfredo... but doesn't like to take the time to make the sauce, doesn't 'want' to make the sauce and wants to know why we can't just buy some?  So... for my teenager, I try to keep a jar of store bought Alfredo sauce in the pantry.

But between you and me?  Even the best brands still taste....  bought.

So, start with your favorite brand Alfredo Sauce and with a couple steps, make it special.  This time around I got my George Foreman grill out, let some bacon crisp in it while I warmed the sauce and then added a couple ingredients to give it a 'homemade' flavor.
Quick and Easy Penne Alfredo Carbonara

12 oz. penne or other favorite pasta, cooked and drained
1 jar of your favorite Alfredo Sauce
6 slices bacon
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped or minced
Parmesan, freshly grated

In a sauce pan over medium heat, warm the sauce while you fry or microwave bacon until crisp.  Crumble in the bacon, add fresh garlic to taste and fresh basil.  When warmed through, pour over hot pasta in a serving bowl and garnish with a sprig of basil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan or a Parmesan blend.  Goes well with garlic bread!

Adding fresh basil


I'm going to briefly mention the herb chopper I am using in the photos. My oldest daughter bought it for me for Mother's Day from William Sonoma - however, I found it on Amazon for those who are interested. It's a sharp, easy to use, good chopper IF your herbs are dried. The instructions do say this, but if you are like me you tend to think "oh, it won't matter" and try it on damp, fresh rinsed herbs anyway. It does matter.

They will ball up a bit and not really fall freely into your dish. And when you go to wash the chopper it's a pain as the 2 blade disks are very sharp and have to go together 'just right'.

After a couple months of trial and error, I don't think it works well for thin, tiny dried herbs like rosemary or thyme because they are so little they fall through the blades. I also didn't care for it for coriander because again, the little ball seeds slip through.

However! I have come to love it. I use my chopper for 3 items; parsley, cilantro and basil. Because I only use it for these items I found it's not necessary to dismantle it and wash it all the time. These herbs dry and shrink very quickly so after using it, I just leave it alone over night and the next morning, a couple quick flicks of the wrist dislodges tiny bits of dried herbs and it's clean and ready to go. I still use 'fresh' herbs from my kitchen garden but I simply grab twice what I think I'll need to make up for the way the wet or damp herbs tend to stick in the sharp blades. If you have herbs planted and are like me, they grow CRAZY fast and I can't use them all up anyway so grabbing a couple extra sprigs or leaves is never, ever a problem.

I use this Microplane chopper for basil, parsley and cilantro

This week Amazon links are being wonky. The links below may or may not show up based on how Amazon 'feels' that day.  But the photos above should link to the product too.

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