Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guilt-Free (Almost!) Alfredo

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One of my favorite segments of Food Network Magazine is the one where they have readers write in asking how to put a lower-fat twist on their favorite full-fat recipes (i.e. scalloped potatoes, crab cakes, etc).

I've been meaning to try this version of chicken alfredo for month, but never really got around to it. I was somewhat skeptical that nonfat milk could thicken the way a full cream sauce does, but this one is fantastically flavorful and the texture is spot on. I couldn't tell that there wasn't cream and tons of cheese in it...and believe me, I'm someone who is a big fan of the flavor fat can lend to sauces!

This recipe also adds in zucchini, which is a great textural element with the chicken and pasta. For some reason they were out of zucchini at the grocery store when I shopped this week, so I subbed in yellow squash instead...with delicious results. Can't wait to give it a whirl with zucchini, might add some mushrooms next time too!

Chicken-Zucchini Alfredo

- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 zucchini, thinly sliced (or use yellow squash)
- 4 4-ounce thin skinless, boneless chicken breasts (sliced into bite-sized pieces)
- Salt and pepper
- 12 ounces whole grain fettuccine
- 1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold low-fat milk (I used skim)
- 1/2 cup evaporated nonfat milk
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp. dried parsley (if you use fresh, double it!)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cloves garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the zucchini (or squash), cover and cook until tender, stirring, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

2. Heat another tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, cooking through until you see no more rare poultry is a good rule of thumb! Once the chicken is done, remove it from the skillet and set it aside.

3. Cook the wholegrain pasta in the boiling water as the label directs (about 8 minutes), drain it and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot while you make the alfredo sauce.

4. Whisk the flour and low-fat milk in a bowl. Place the remaining clove of garlic and 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, 30 seconds. Add the flour-milk mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the Parmesan; stir to combine until the cheese is fully melted. Sprinkle in the parsley and stir well.

5. Toss the chicken, zucchini and pasta with the alfredo sauce, stirring well to coat. Add the reserved pasta water to the sauce if it seems too thick.

Serve it up and enjoy!

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