One of my favorite dishes growing up was my mom’s fettuccine alfredo. When I moved out at 19, I asked her to send me the recipe because I wanted to replicate it in my own home, which was really a renovated one-stall garage (I wish I was kidding).
Once I had the recipe in hand, I remember being horrified at the amount of cream and butter it took to get the end result that I had loved so much as a kid. Ever since, I have shied away from both consuming and cooking cream-based dishes. In fact, the only time I generally allow myself to indulge in alfredo sauce is one the rare occasion that she whips up a homemade batch of fettuccine alfredo. After all, who can say no to a home-cooked meal?
Let’s face it: Cream and butter do taste good, even if they do have detrimental effects on our bodies. So when I found a recipe from The Minimalist Baker for Butter-Less Alfredo, I was extremely skeptical because it doesn’t contain butter or cream and instead uses skim milk and vegetable stock. I was convinced it would end up more like a broth than a real sauce, but I had some vegetable stock on hand that I needed to use, so I decided to give it a try.
Oh. My. Goodness. I have never been more excited to be proven wrong!
I seriously licked the plate when I was done (Again, I wish I was kidding. That’s slightly embarrassing!).
I made a few changes just based on the ingredients we had on hand, so the original recipe does differ, but here’s what I did to create the beautiful end result you see above!
Helpful Tip: Remember that all taste buds vary, so I would strongly recommend tasting as you go. It’s an added perk of being the cook! I prefer mild amounts of salt and pepper in my cream sauces, but Chris ended up grinding quite a bit of pepper over his pasta as he ate his because he would have preferred more.
What do I need?
- 3/4 box whole wheat pasta (I used linguine, but any long, thin, pasta would work well with this sauce!)
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic (You could certainly mince it yourself, but I prefer to go the easy route and buy it in a little glass jar available in most produce departments.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3/4 cup skim milk (The original recipe called for 2% milk, but increasing the amount of flour called for in the original recipe and using skim milk proved to work really well. If you use 2% milk, I would recommend only using 2 tablespoons of flour.)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded julienne-style carrots (The original recipe called for peas, which I think would also be delicious; I just didn’t have any on hand when I made this recipe! Next time I might try 1/2 cup of each vegetable for some variety.)
What do I do?
1. First cook the pasta according to the package’s directions. Make sure to do this before you start making the sauce, as it will call for your undivided attention if you don’t want it to burn! In the last couple of minutes before the pasta is finished boiling, add your vegetables to the pot. Drain the pasta and veggies and set to the side.
2. Heat a saucepan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and olive oil, stirring to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the pan and/or burn.
3. Slightly reduce the heat and add flour. Whisk the flour with the garlic and olive oil to combine.
4. Add vegetable stock and milk to the liquid and stir to combine. Then use a flat spatula to press down and mash any remaining flour into the sauce.
5. Add salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese, stirring constantly. Cook on medium heat until the liquid is bubbling; then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer.
6. Pour the sauce over the veggies and pasta, mix well. You may even want to serve each dish topped with some extra parmesan cheese as a garnish.