Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus: A small amount of reduced-fat cream cheese replaces the heavy cream and turns this dish into a guilt-free, delicious meal.
Our family doesn’t do meatless Mondays. I wouldn’t dare set a day without out meat to a schedule because then my beloved family would find reasons not to be home for dinner.
Instead of an official meatless day, I tend to throw one in here and there, sometimes more than once a week. I used to try and be sneaky about it, but I have an 8 year-old in the house. It’s amazing how observant those young ones can be when the subject matter is anything than the cleanliness of their rooms (‘What mess? I don’t see a mess. I think my room looks fine.’)
The child can’t see half her wardrobe lying on her bedroom floor, but she sure has no problem picking up on the fact that there isn’t a packet of meat sitting out with the other dinner ingredients.
Which is what she did last night; on Meatless Sunday.
Unfortunately, asparagus aren’t really in season at the moment so the stalks I found at the store were pretty skinny. That worked well for Hubby and Dudette, however, since they’re not big fans.
Cutting the asparagus, mincing the garlic and chopping up a few chives are really the only prep work that needs to be done. That was done in mere minutes so the rest of the time was spent in front of the stove.
I ended up using three burners and three pots for this dish. One had the pot of pasta cooking on it, the second is what I sautéed the asparagus and garlic in and the third heated the alfredo sauce.
I used a whisk to combine the cream cheese, milk and Parmesan, then switched to a wooden spoon. I ended leaving the asparagus in the large skillet and pouring the cheese sauce over it and then adding the pasta and pasta water to that.
I hate to say it, but none of us were wowed by this meal. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing special either. I thought the amount of lemon and pepper were a little much. Aside from the fact that neither Hubby or Sophie care for asparagus, they felt the same way about the alfredo and pasta.
It was a filling dinner, but not something I’d make again.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d definitely cut the amount of lemon used, maybe even skipping the juice entirely. I’d also only use a quarter teaspoon of pepper.
- 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon vodka or water
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese
- ¼ cup fat-free milk
- 1.5 ounces vegetarian Parmesan cheese, grated (about 6 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add asparagus, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; sauté 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat. Add rind and juice; toss. Keep warm.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add vodka and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add cream cheese, stirring until smooth. Stir in milk, Parmesan cheese, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir in reserved pasta water, pasta, and asparagus; toss to coat noodles. Sprinkle with chives.
As a side note, there’s a blurb in the magazine about how best to heat up the leftovers. I did as they said, gently heating a quarter cup of milk in a saucepan and then adding the pasta, and it worked well.