recipe remix: lightened up fettuccini alfredo

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Welcome to Recipe Remix #1–Fettuccini Alfredo!  My college friend Claire Steinbeck made this special request.  Claire is a fellow teacher in search of healthy meals, and I have to give her a personal thank you for pushing me to try out this dish.  I hadn’t had fettuccini alfredo in years–partly because of watching what I eat, but also because I’m a little bit lactose intolerant (self-diagnosis, mind you), and I tend to steer clear of creamy pasta dishes because of the subsequent tummy ache.  Not only does this dish not give me tummy issues, but it also includes extra fiber from the secret ingredient: cauliflower.

Before I share the recipe with you, let me say that I tried three different sauces for this one: one with lowfat milk and flour, one with lowfat Greek yogurt and flour, and one with pureed cauliflower.  While I liked all three, the cauliflower version was Alex’s favorite, and I have to agree that it was the one that tasted the most like regular alfredo.  The lowfat milk version tasted too diet-y and left a little to be desired.  The Greek yogurt version was a close second, but it did have an ever-so-slight tang from the yogurt that Alex said reminded him of sour cream, which he doesn’t like.

“But wait, I don’t like cauliflower,” you say.

Think again.  This recipe couldn’t be easier, and the cauliflower couldn’t be less apparent.  You boil a chopped head of cauliflower for 25 minutes, saute some garlic and shallot, add some evaporated milk and chicken broth, then give it all a whirl in the food processor with some parmesan, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  The cauliflower serves as the thickening agent and is flavorless, especially against the nutmeg, garlic, and shallot.  Even if you don’t think you like cauliflower, I challenge you to make this recipe.  I did some research and borrowed several ideas from several recipes, and I will definitely make this again.

Nutrition breakdown: 10 Weight Watchers points, which is roughly 500 calories per serving.  Compare that to 1200 calories for many restaurant versions, and you’ll be slurping up this pasta guilt-free.

If you’re gluten-free or low-carb, you could always use this sauce with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash–that would be an especially healthy version.

I served this dish with a small green salad and a side of roasted broccoli.

Lightened Up Fettuccini Alfredo

1 head cauliflower

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk

1/2 cup fat free chicken broth

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. white pepper

8 oz. fettuccini pasta

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Give the cauliflower a rough chop, and when the water is boiling, add the cauliflower florets to the water, turn down the heat to simmer, and place the lid on the pot.  Cook for 25 minutes.

Cook pasta according the package directions.

When the cauliflower is cooked, drain it and set it aside.  In the same pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add the garlic and shallot and cook for about 2 minutes.  Next, add the evaporated milk and cook for about 1 minute.  Turn off the heat.  In a food processor or blender, combine the warm milk mixture with the chicken stock, parmesan, cauliflower, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Blend the ingredients until smooth.  Pour the sauce back into the pot and add the pasta.  Use tongs to combine the pasta with the sauce and top with fresh parsley.

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