It’s National Fettuccine Day! This calls for a quick, easy, and healthy Alfredo sauce.
Healthy isn’t a word that is usually associated with Fettuccine Alfredo. But we can eat healthy without giving up creamy pasta. It just takes some creative sleight-of-hand cooking, and is easy enough for both novices and experts to pull together. Unlike traditional Fettuccine Alfredo – rich with heavy cream and butter – this recipe uses ricotta cheese for its creaminess.
How to Get True Alfredo Flavor
Use good quality Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese to re-creating true Alfredo flavor. Avoid that green can of “Parmesan” and look for wedges of cheese near the deli. Don’t be tempted to use another kind of cheese (yes, I am talking to you Cheddar lovers). Alfredo means aged Parmesan or other hard cheese.
A Creamy Sauce Without the Butter
There’s a reason why Fettuccine Alfredo is called “heart attack on a plate.” The traditional version calls for ½ cup of butter and 2 cups of heavy cream. I know, it tastes good but I would rather it wasn’t my last meal.
So we re-create the creaminess by combining ricotta cheese and evaporated milk. You can use low-fat versions of either or both. However, low-fat ingredients will result in a thinner sauce. Still good, Still great in fact. I always use low-fat ricotta and low-fat evaporated milk with good results. Don’t use non-fat ingredients though. These are held together with gums and stabilizers that won’t give you a creamy mouthfeel.
Using just a little bit of butter lets the richness come through, without all the fat. You may find that there is too much sauce for you. After tossing the sauce and fettuccine let it sit for about 5 minutes. The pasta will soak up most of the sauce.
Make the Recipe Your Own
I added about 3/4 lb. of chopped, fresh broccoli to the cooking water once the fettuccine was boiling. I also topped each plate with halved cherry tomatoes. Adding lots of broccoli helps stretch the pasta, and it’s an easy way to get your veggies too.
You could also add cooked chicken or a chicken substitute, or shrimp or ham. Chopped zucchini or pea pods will add crunch and color along with vitamins.
You can find the original recipe in the Fast and Simple section of my very first cookbook, I Want My Dinner Now! – Simple Meals for Busy Cooks. The book is out of print but I still have a few copies hanging around and you can get your own for only $5. Order a bunch and give them to all your busy friends, because everyone wants to save time and shipping is only $5 – no matter how many you order. But get them before they are gone!
- 12 ounces fettuccine
- 2 T butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- black pepper
- Cook fettuccine according to package directions.
- Add garlic to fettuccine and water during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and discard garlic clove.
- Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave.
- Blend milk, cheeses, and melted butter in a blender, or using a whisk.
- Add to drained fettuccine and toss to coat. Let sit for a few minutes so pasta will soak up the sauce.
- Garnish with plenty of course ground black pepper.
National Fettuccine Day is the perfect time for Alfredo, but with this recipe, every day can be Fettuccine Day!