Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo (Lightened Up)

After a week off from blogging, I'm back! I can't promise that I will be posting quite as frequently as I used to, but I'm definitely not going to fall off the face of the Earth, either. There's been a lot of cooking going on around here, but for some reason when it comes time to post about the latest dishes I've made, I find myself highly unmotivated. I've decided that I should only blog when I really want to, rather than holding myself to a stricter schedule that sometimes becomes more of a hassle than a joy. I started blogging because I knew I would enjoy it, and I would like to continue to enjoy it. As soon as it becomes just another chore, I think it's a bit pointless to force myself to do it, you know?

But I came here today to talk about Fettuccine Alfredo, so that's what I'm going to do! I am pretty enamored with Fettuccine Alfredo, but I try to eat healthy more often than not, so that pretty much takes one of my favorite pasta dishes off the menu. I have tried countless times to recreate this creamy, decadent meal in my home kitchen, except I always try to lighten it up as much as possible. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Most often, the texture is just not right. Sometimes it turns out way too dry, and not nearly creamy enough. Sometimes the texture is right, but it doesn't seem as cheesy as I would like. A good homemade, healthier Fettuccine Alfredo is nearly impossible to achieve.

Thanks to Cooking Light, I think I have come pretty close. First of all, the addition of shrimp is genius. It bulks up the meal with lean protein so you can have a smaller portion and still be satisfied. Using a really good-quality Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is key here, too. You want that flavor to shine, so it had better be good. I used half and half, which is not as luxurious as heavy cream. Just a little bit doesn't set you back too far in the fat department, but it gives the dish that creaminess that's so essential. Finally, the secret weapon here is reduced-fat cream cheese. This, combined with a bit of reserved pasta cooking liquid, allows you to reach the desired consistency. There is one slight catch: you need to serve and eat this dish right away. If it sits too long, it can get a bit gluey and lose the creamy texture. If this does happen, just refresh it with a bit more hot water. This meal was the best kind for me; it fit within my nutritional requirements, but it totally tasted like cheat food!

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo
adapted from Cooking Light
makes 8 servings

3/4 lb. (12 ounces) fettuccine
1 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp
2 green onions, chopped (I subbed in a shallot)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup half-and-half
6 Tbsp. (1 1/2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4-1/2 cup cooking liquid. Combine shrimp, onions, and garlic in a small bowl.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil; swirl to coat. Add shrimp mixture, and saute for 4 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

3. Reduce heat to medium. Add reserved cooking liquid, Parmigiano-Reggiano, half-and-half, cream cheese, and pepper to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until cheeses melt.

4. Combine pasta, cheese mixture, and shrimp mixture. Toss well to combine. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. Yum, one of my favorites...I should try this as my plan for alfredo is to just make it with all the good stuff and only eat a slight portion and enjoy every single! This could be another option. Blogging inspiration comes and goes, doesn't it...the trick is to just roll with it as it always returns. I am posting my Ellie things on Fridays and have two banked for tomorrow...just the freedom to pick my own things has given me new drive for posting Ellie things and making was exciting to just pick up the book and think, "Oh, I want to do this one this week...." Your photos of this alfredo are really wonderful.