i kid you not: healthy fettucini alfredo

Mother Nature provides so many delicious treats that taste great and are good for ya, too.  Grapes, for example.  And strawberries.  And blueberries.  And sweet potatoes.  Oh, and definitely baby carrots.  And then there are foods that are out-of-this-world delicious AND absolutely terrible for you, even though they contain Mother Nature’s bounty in its *almost* natural form.  One such food is fettucini alfredo.

Made with cream, butter, cheese, and flour (i.e. pasta), fettucini alfredo brings together all of the fattiest, most wonderful foods and puts them in a big, overflowing bowl of Italian goodness.  Nate and I love love love fettucini alfredo, but we often feel like bears that have been shot with tranquilizer darts after polishing off a bowl of this heavy treat.

So I went searching for a lighter — yet still yummy — version, and found it in Ellie Krieger’s Chicken-Zucchini Alfredo.  Calories are saved with the use of 1% and evaporated skim milk (instead of heavy cream) and less Parmesan.  No doubt to bulk up the recipe, and add a little green to your plate, Krieger throws in two zucchini for good measure (which, if you’ve ever had zucchini with Parmesan, you know is a fantastic combination of flavors).

There are quite a few steps in this recipe for such a basic dish.  But the result is very good; garlicy, creamy, and hearty, and for 500 calories, this dish makes for a fantastic and filling dinner.

Chicken-Zucchini Alfredo

Serves 4
From Food Network Magazine, Volume 3, Number 2
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 4 4-oz thin skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces fettucini pasta, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk (not condensed milk) — be sure to shake the can before you measure!
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 clove of the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to a bowl.

Heat another TBSP oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper and cook through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions on the package. Ladle out a half cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and return it to the pasta pot.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Whisk the flour into the low-fat milk until it is completely dissolved. Put the remaining TBSP of olive oil in the skillet and heat over a medium-high heat. Add the remaining clove of garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the flour-milk mixture and cook until the mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp salt and the cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Season with additional salt to taste.

Cut the chicken into strips.  Toss with the pasta, sauce, zucchini and parsley, adding the reserved pasta water to loosen.


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