Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo

A title that seemingly defies the laws of physics!  We’re all familiar with the amazingness that is Alfredo.  And most of us are also painfully aware of how bad it is for you.  I can still remember the first time I made it at home and how shocked I was to find out the particular recipe (which is right up there with the best I have ever had btw) called for not one, but TWO sticks of butter, a TON of parmesan and cream.  It’s no wonder it tastes so good!  After that day I vowed to find a more guilt-free, or least less guilty version to satisfy that craving.  I actually have found some rather great alfredos, that are indeed lower in fat or calories, but far from “healthy”…… until today that is!

I won’t sit here and try to tell you this tastes as good as the full fat, cheesy, creamy version… that would be ludicrous.  I can however, in all honesty, tell you that this recipe definitely delivers on the creamy factor and the taste is surprisingly much closer to actual alfredo than you would imagine.  In case you haven’t figured out my dirty secret by now, this recipe is made with a cauliflower based sauce.  You do get that hint of cauliflower in your bite, but the texture is so rich and creamy and the garlic masks a lot of the veggie taste.  It’s not perfectly smooth like some alfredo sauces, but then again, neither are some of the other low fat versions I have tried.  For a person who is quite picky about textures I found it not only NOT bothersome, but pleasant in it’s texture.  I did cheat just a little and added some fresh grated parmesan to the sauce, in part because I had it and didn’t want it to got to waste, but also because I admit I was a doubter and couldn’t imagine alfredo without parmesan.  I only added a little… probably not even enough to notice, but I think it could be a good addition nonetheless.  It certainly didn’t take away from it in any way.

The recipe comes from a blogger in the Philippines, and there seems to be some difference in our produce from what they have over there.  So her estimation of using three small heads of cauliflower was a bit tricky to figure out.  I ended up going with about 1 2/3 heads of cauliflower, and the heads were just your average size I’d say.  I only had one box of vegetable broth on hand, which is 4 cups, but that seemed to be just enough to cover my cauliflower, which I assumed was the point since you only use about 2 cups of it later anyway.  I ended up with almost exactly that amount after the cooking process.  Unlike the recipe I was following I didn’t see a need to add any of the pasta water to my sauce, so I would just make that call when you get to that point on whether you think it is necessary or not.  The other thing I did differently was in my haste to get dinner on started and while struggling to keep my youngest out of the way I used the olive oil while sauteing the garlic and skipped the butter altogether.  I didn’t go ahead and add any extra olive oil in the blending and didn’t have any problems.  I used a food processor to blend mine which worked very well.

I took a few extra pictures of this particular dish in an attempt to prove to you how good it really was by how beautiful the sauce looked both in the skillet and on the pasta.  If someone had not told you it was cauliflower you honestly might not have figured it out.  The recipe included a nutritional calculation, and though I imagine it could vary slightly depending on ingredients used and measurements being exact, the calorie count was at only 316 calories a serving, and fat was a measly 5 g.!!!  Finally alfredo you can enjoy without the guilt!

Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo

Serves : 8          Time to make : 30 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 3 small heads of cauliflower (I used 1 2/3 heads, see note above)
  • 1 lb. uncooked fettuccine noodles
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (I found 4 cups to be enough)
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup starchy pasta water (see note above, I didn’t need to use any of this in mine)
  • Fresh grated parmesan (this wasn’t included in original, but is something I added, and I would just add however much you like)

Direction :

  1. Chop the cauliflower.  Bring the vegetable broth to a boil over medium high heat and add cauliflower.  Cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes.  The softer it is, the smoother your sauce will turn out.  Meanwhile melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft and fragrant.  (4-5 minutes seems like a long time to me for garlic so I just did it until it started to turn golden)
  2. As the garlic and cauliflower are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the fettuccine according to package directions, reserving some oft he starchy pasta water for the sauce.
  3. Transfer cauliflower along with 2 cups of the vegetable broth to a blender (or food processor).  You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender.  Add the sauteed garlic, salt, nutmeg, and black pepper, and puree until very smooth.  Once mixture is moving stream in olive oil.  Add more broth if the mixture is too thick.  When it is very smooth return it the skillet.
  4. Add the cream and cook over low heat.  Add the starchy pasta water (I didn’t need any, and I suggest adding it a little at a time if you feel it might be necessary until you reach a desired consistency) and keep warm until ready to serve.  Combine noodles and sauce in a large pot and serve immediately.

Recipe from pinch of yum

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