Thursday, January 11, 2007

More Comfort Food

Fettuccine Alfredo - yet another comfort food dish and yet another Cooking Light recipe to come out of our kitchen this week, also from the January issue.

Some people find Fettuccine Alfredo to be too rich. I wish I was one of those people. Me, I love the stuff and could eat a really big plate of it. Fortunately for my health, I don't do that very often. Knowing how much butter, cream and cheese is in most restaurant variety alfredos, I usually cannot bring myself to order it. An example - according to Calorie King a serving of Fettuccine Alfredo at Macaroni Grill is 1130 calories and 81 grams of fat. Now, part of the problem is that it's probably a huge portion - maybe 2-4 meals worth of food. But even so, if you look at percentages, you're still talking 65% of the total calories coming from fat which is way over the recommended 30% or less. What's worse, the fat in this dish is largely saturated, accounting for 51 grams of the total 81 grams. While I don't shy away so much from healthy fats like olive or canola oil, I do try to limit the saturated fats found in butter, cheese and such. Emphasis on the word "try".

While this lightened version certainly cannot be compared side-by-side with a full-fat alfredo, it is still a cheesey, creamy dish with a surprising amount of flavor. You'll get the best results if you use Parmiggiano Reggiano. I used a Parmesan cheese that was a little cheaper and while it was still good, it would have been much better with the real thing. I also used full-fat cream cheese because that's what we had on hand, but I'm quite confident that the less-fat cream cheese would work just as well. I also used skim milk instead of 1%. Cooking Light recipes tend to call for 1% or 2% milk quite a bit, but we only drink skim and since milk just doesn't keep well, I find it tiresome to run out and buy different kinds of milk every time a recipe calls for something other than skim. I will sometimes up the fat a little bit elsewhere by maybe adding a bit more butter or a little more cheese. Knowing that this dish would need flavor where it wasn't getting it from fat, I upped the garlic to 3 cloves.

One thing to note - this calls for 8 ounces of pasta for 4 servings, so the servings are on the small side (especially since there are no add-ins such as meat or vegetables). Still, if you're practicing portion control, it's plenty of pasta. We served it with a big bowl of spinach salad - eating a large salad is quite filling, making a large portion of pasta unnecessary. However, if you have a crowd that will want a big old plate of pasta, you might want to double the recipe.


  1. Just found you on foodie blogs!

    I used to waitress in this little, tucked away Italian restaurant and the chef would always peek and try to peg the Alfredo personality as each walked through the door. I just thought they life-embracing foodies who knew a great dish when they saw it! Count me in!

  2. Anonymous10:31 PM

    That looks good. Strangely enough I just came across a recipe on the CL BB called FETTUCINE with LOW FAT ALFREDO, Still Life with Menu Molly Katzen. Hmmm, maybe I need to try both, all in the name of science and compare. Thanks for posting. Really enjoy your blog.

  3. i saw the recipe too and copy it for my cookbook folder. thought of trying it some time for weekend lunch/dinner. so it's good, huh?

  4. talkoftomatoes - Hi. I wonder if I would have been pegged as an Alfredo person? ;)

    Anonymous - By all means try both and let us know which one wins!

    Eliza - It is good and easy to throw together. The extra garlic really did help add flavor.