Monday, April 1, 2013

Alfredo Toss

Whenever we were craving Italian but didn't want to go out, my mom used to make one of two things: her spaghetti or her alfredo. The alfredo recipe was quick and easy, so it made for a great weeknight dinner. When she put Italian sausage in it, we were really in heaven. However, while it taste greats, it's not really alfredo in the most traditional sense. The flavors are all there, but there isn't really an alfredo sauce. Instead my mom would toss fettuccini together with garlic, heavy whipping cream, melted butter, and parmesan cheese (the kind from a can/plastic jar, not the real stuff). The result tasted a lot like alfredo but didn't require you to go through the trouble of making a bechamel sauce and melting in all the cheese.

Justin and I recently visited a friend in Boston and decided to cook dinner for the three of us. Even though it's been years since I've had my mom's alfredo, for whatever reason that's what I thought of when trying to decide what to cook. However, now that I'm older, I don't love the original recipe quite as much as I did as a kid. I'm not a huge fan of the texture of all that powdery parmesan, and my stomach hates me if I eat that much butter or heavy cream. I did what any logical person would have done--I adapted it. Replace the canned parmesan with the real thing. Replace the heavy whipping cream with half-and-half and cut down the amount used. Leave out the butter. The resulting recipe gives you the alfredo flavor you're looking for but with much less trouble. As a bonus, it feels a lot lighter, too, especially if you throw in some veggies.

I made this again here at home so that I could share it with all of you. And because when we were making the grocery list, Justin said, "Let's have that pasta you made in Boston again," even though that was just a few weeks ago. I used linguini made from mushrooms (mixed with a bit of regular linguini because I didn't have enough of the mushroom one left), which gave it a nice earthy flavor. We threw in some chicken Italian sausage and a bunch of broccoli, but you can put in whatever you like. For the "sauce" I used fat free half-and-half to cut down on the calories a bit. This time we also used asiago cheese instead of parmesan because the grocery store was sorely lacking in that department, but Justin and I both love asiago anyway--you can use pretty much whatever hard, Italian cheese you like.


Cooked mix-ins (such as chicken, sausage, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.)
1/2 to 3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon minced garlic
16 ounces pasta, cooked according to package directions
8 ounces parmesan cheese, shredded


Place your mix-ins in a pot or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add half-and-half and garlic, and stir well. Heat through, stirring frequently. Add pasta, and toss to coat. Sprinkle cheese over pasta, and toss until well-mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Servings: 4-6

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