What to Cook Right Now

Conjuring the fettuccine Alfredo from Bamonte’s, a new recipe for papadzules and more.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. For a long time I thought the only fettuccine Alfredo that mattered was the one served at Bamonte’s restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’d order it elsewhere and receive a plate of goop, but never there. Rich with heavy cream, butter and Parmesan, the sauce cloaked the pasta with a silky sheen that took well to a grind of black pepper, a pop of sharpness against the salt.

During the pandemic, though, I started making fettuccine Alfredo (above) at home. (Try the vegan version, if that’s your bag.) This was maybe as good as a trip to Bamonte’s, and it also led me to think about the possibilities the sauce presented: as something fantastic to drape over roasted chicken thighs, for instance, or spears of asparagus; as a base for white pizza; as a foil for sautéed shrimp.

Alfredo’s a heavy sauce, but the recipe’s still a good trick to have up your sleeve. Pork tenderloin with Alfredo sauce, rice and green beans? Give that a try!

No? Too rich for your blood? I’ve been thinking a lot about this terrific Melissa Clark recipe for a white bean and asparagus salad with tarragon-lemon dressing. (You could flake some canned tuna in there, if you wanted to.) Also, this spring tofu soup from Alison Roman. And this fine vegetable shabu shabu in kombu-ginger broth from Kay Chun.

Rick Martinez has a good new one, too, for papadzules, an enchilada-adjacent dish from the Yucatán Peninsula. In his recipe, tortillas are dipped in an uncooked pepita purée, then filled with boiled eggs and asparagus, rolled, and topped with more sauce. Not exactly traditional, but so fantastic.

Melissa’s skillet chicken and farro with caramelized leeks is also worth a look this week, as is — to bring things back to the excess I championed above — Julia Moskin’s adaptation of the carne asada cheese fries served at the Piper Inn in Denver. “My husband barely spoke whilst eating it other to say, ‘oh my word’ repeatedly,” a subscriber wrote in a note below the recipe.

There are thousands and thousands more recipes waiting for you on New York Times Cooking, along with plenty of inspiration on our TikTok, Instagram and YouTube accounts. Yes, you need a subscription to access the recipes. Subscriptions support our work. If you haven’t taken one out already, will you consider subscribing today? Thank you!

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Now, it’s a far cry from maple syrup and the merits of particular brands of fish sauce, but Sasha Frere-Jones’s newsletter turned me on to this time-travel Spotify playlist that highlights every listener-chosen song of the week played on the New York radio station WLIR (later WDRE) between 1980 and 1997. Bangers, we call them now. Screamers, they called them then.

For the Guardian, Simon Hattenstone interviewed Graham Nash, who was a little wilder than I thought — still is, really.

You should read Emily Bingham’s “My Old Kentucky Home,” about the dark past of an iconic American song, but don’t take my word for it. Rick Bragg wowed it in The Times.

Finally, it’s the poet Charles Simic’s birthday. He’s 84. Read his “Talking to Little Birdies,” and then get yourself to the kitchen. I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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