Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Something old, something new....

Okay, so when my husband said he wanted a lighter version of his favorite meal for his birthday I thought this would be a challenge. Ready for it?

Fettucine Alfredo.

Yea. Ever have this dish out at a restaurant and then you get home and your stomach is still digesting it? How about all night long? Yep. This was a toughie. Then, lo and behold, Cooking Light magazine had a healthier version of the recipe that received rave reviews on line. So Fettucine Alfredo is my "Something Old" with a lighter twist. Here's the recipe:

1 tablespoon butter 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 1/3 cups 1% low-fat milk 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided 2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 cups hot cooked fettuccine (8 ounces uncooked pasta) 2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley Cracked black pepper

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook 6 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream cheese, and salt, stirring with a whisk until cheeses melt. Toss sauce with hot pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and chopped parsley. Garnish with black pepper, if desired.

Serve immediately.
4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 399(30% from fat); FAT 13.5g (sat 8g,mono 3.4g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 21.3g; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 451mg; SODIUM 822mg; FIBER 2g; IRON 2.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.9g

Mary Creel/Alison Ashton ,
Cooking Light, JANUARY 2007

My thoughts on the recipe:

  • If you can't find Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I can never find it at Giant), you can use grated Parmesan cheese. I did and it worked well.

  • When you're cooking the garlic on the first step, definitely keep a watchful eye. This is not the time to walk away from the stovetop. If it burns, start again. It didn't happen to me last night, but it's happened to me before. Since the cooked garlic is setting the stage for the flavor of the alfredo sauce, this is important to get right.

  • I used spinach pasta instead of whole wheat or white pasta.

  • I only used a pinch of fresh parsley. Flat leaf parsley belongs to the same family as cilantro. It has a citrus flavor to it. Flat leaf parsley also has a much stronger flavor than curly parsley that you're used to seeing. I'm not a fan of either parsley or cilantro. But I keep trying to get myself to like it because it's a common herb to flavor a dish.

  • This dish was quicker to make than I expected. I was combining the cooked pasta and the finished sauce just when my hubby called and told me he was running twenty minutes late. The texture of the dish changed in that short amount of time. Basically this is a perfect dish when your family is ready to sit down to dinner. When they say "serve immediately" they weren't kidding! It was still tasty just "stickier."

  • Try a little oil in the saucepan when cooking the pasta. The noodles won't stick together so much.

Something New!

So what do I serve as a vegetable with the fettucine alredo? The pasta was already spinach based so I didn't want to use green leafy vegetables. Since the sauce was white, I decided to go with that same color palette and make Roasted Cauliflower. I have never in my life tried this before. I've never even eated cauliflower raw off the crudite platter at parties. I can't believe I was going to try this for the first time for my husband's birthday dinner, but I've heard so many great things about cauliflower (made right), that I had to try it. Also, I've been roasting veggies for so long now, I knew that the technique was a sure fire hit.

I received a hint about the technique at cooking class. But the recipe is really made up. Here it is:

Roasted Cauliflower

One head of Cauliflower, cored and cut into florets, 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

After cutting the cauliflower into florets, I dunked them in a bowl of cold water for 25 minutes. Apparently this helps keep the moisture in the veggie while it's roasting. After draining them in a colliander, I laid the florets out evenly on a 9X12 casserole dish and added the oil. Then I tossed them with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. The oven was preheated at 375F. I knew it would take 30 minutes, but I set the timer to go off every ten minutes so I could add 1-2 tablespoons of water to keep it moist. I also took the opportunity to push the florets around to make sure all sides were browning evenly.

I read somewhere that roasted cauliflower tastes delicious with fresh lemon juice. I place a lemon cut into four halves on the table with the cauliflower.

So how did it turn out?? I couldn't believe it. It was extremely yummy!! It just melted in my mouth. I'm totally serious. I had no idea that roasted cauliflower could be so good. I'm definitely putting in my rotation of side dishes. I will probably start serving it at dinner parties, too.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable because the leaves form a cross underneath it's head. Here's a great fact about cauliflower that I found online:

"Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage,
and kale, contain compounds that may help prevent cancer. These compounds appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, and they increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens." (from http://www.whfoods.com/)

I also learned that cauliflower is in season from December to March. So try it now! I promise you will LOVE it.


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