Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A twist on your usual alfredo

One of the best things about volunteering with Brainfood is that you get to eat delicious food at the end of every class... unless you have to leave early.

After smelling chocolate banana cake and grapefruit cake with cream cheese frosting cooling on the countertop and discussing next week's workshop where the Brainfood MVPs will be teaching local middle schoolers how to make low-cal chicken and broccoli alfredo, I was STARVING. But alas, I had to get myself to UDC before the end of our session today and thus I left sans cake. (So sad.) Somehow the kale salad, carrot, and hard-boiled egg I brought for dinner during master gardening class tonight didn't do much to curb the grumbling in my tummy. I got home, still STARVING, around 10pm and started to rummage through my fridge with alfredo on the brain....

Lemons: check. Neufchatel (admittedly kind of random): check. Parmesan: check. Garlic, milk, fettuccine noodles: check, check, check. Broccoli... um... no. Chicken... um... no. Parsley... well, a bit... I think there's some out in the coldframe, which I could mix together with some of the recently maligned (but, to be fair, pretty tasty) cutting celery. Maybe there's something I could do with that baby bok choy I picked up from the Dupont market this weekend....

In the end, I concocted quite a delectable plate of pasta for my late-night Mardi Gras dinner, scarfed before I even got out my camera to snap a photo to include with the recipe. I can say with certainty that the creamy, lemony sauce was simply divine. Maybe not as good as the famous Madeira sauce, but maybe a reasonably close second, and a way faster and less labor-intensive recipe than the usual. Here's how to make your own in less than 20 minutes:

Creamy Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo with Bok Choy
(serves 2)

1-2 baby bok choy, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
½ box fettuccine noodles
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
zest from 1 lemon, freshly grated
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk (don't talk to me about skim milk, you're lucky this isn't cream)
½ tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons neufchatel (or low-fat cream cheese)
grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
a handful of fresh parsley (and cutting celery, if you like), finely chopped
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add noodles. Cook for 10-12 minutes. (Or use fresh noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes.) During the last 3 or 4 minutes of the pasta boil, toss bok choy into the pot as well. (And Ryan teases me for how many dishes I use. Psh. I just prevented using an additional pot here -- a little credit, please!) While the pasta and bok choy cook, sip on a glass of something tasty and start making the sauce....

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and saute for about 1 minute. Add in the flour and whisk until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the neufchatel and parmesan cheese and whisk until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in a few grinds of fresh black pepper and the chopped parsley.

Drain pasta and cooked bok choy and stir into the alfredo sauce. Serve topped with a bit more grated parmesan.

Oh, my, that was delicious. I've nearly all of the ingredients to make another batch this week. Maybe I'll try mixing in some sauteed strips of sweet potato with the bok choy. Heck, you could add just about anything to this and it would be delicious: broccoli, chicken, peas, cauliflower....

Happy cooking! Let me know if you try it out.

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