After my #1 reader (thanks, Mom!) informed me that I was slacking on my blog, I decided (well, she decided) that it would be smart to take a little holiday, so this will be my last entry until after the holidays. To keep it sweet and simple, I decided to take on Alfredo Sauce, which holds a sweet memory in my mind as the food I ate at the Olive Garden the day of my middle school graduation. That dry, summery San Diego afternoon, I sat surrounded by family, sipping on an Italian soda, sharing food and laughter over the large dining table. It truly did look like an Olive Garden commercial... "When you're here, you're family."
This is something that I will always love about food. No matter how old you get, how refined your palate becomes, or how many "better" versions of a dish you experience, any food memory has the power to extract vivid moments in time and bring them into the present. It's the sort of thing, as my cousin Lorri so eloquently puts it, that makes you go:
Of course, my smile faded a bit when I looked at the ingredients and realized it was butter plus cream plus cheese (and a few extras). So I turned to one of my favorite parts of America's Test Kitchen Feed, the section called It Doesn't Taste Low Fat. They did not let me down, and I was able to find an Alfredo Sauce recipe "minus 261 calories and 31 grams of fat." Let's see how it fares for this week's memorized family dinner.
The Recipe: Lower-Fat Fettucini Alfredo, adapted from Cook's Country on America's Test Kitchen Feed
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 (9-ounce) package fresh fettuccine
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming.
- Whisk in flour until mixture is smooth and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Whisk in milk, half-and- half, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and bring to simmer.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Discard garlic, stir in Parmesan, and remove from heat.
- Stir 1 tablespoon salt and pasta into boiling water and cook, stirring constantly, until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.
- Return sauce to low heat, add ⅓ cup pasta water and cooked pasta; toss until evenly coated.
- Cook until sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute.
- Add more cooking water as needed to thin sauce to proper consistency and adjust seasonings.
- Serve immediately.
Time to Memorize: 3 days