Last night I was craving fettuccine alfredo from the popular restaurant I’ll call “Schmalloff Garten.” I don’t eat at restaurants like that any more because of their impact on local economies and the environment, but I still crave junk food sometimes!
I wanted to make a version of the dish that would be easier on my waistline, and that would utilize some of the wonderful, local produce hanging out in my fridge. To lighten up the fat and calorie content, I skipped the heavy cream found in traditional alfredo sauces and used skim milk instead, with a little cornstarch as a thickening agent. I used full fat butter and heart-healthy olive oil in this recipe, and I added mushrooms and dark greens to increase the calcium, fiber, and vitamin content of the dish. As a bonus, the sauce for this dish is gluten free, so all my celiac friends can enjoy this with GF pasta!
I used portobello mushrooms from Kitchen Pride, penne from Austin Pasta Company, and mixed greens from My Father’s Farm in this recipe, but any variety of mushrooms, dark greens and pasta would work with a similar result.
Portobello Parmesan Pasta (makes 6, 1-cup servings)
1 lb. pasta*, use gluten free if you wish
1 lb. dark greens, like kale, beet greens, spinach, whatever!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped portobello mushroom pieces, about 2 large caps’ worth**
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cup skim milk, plus 1/4 cup milk to make slurry
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Chop greens and set aside. Boil water for pasta and prepare as usual, adding greens to the pot one minute before pasta is finished cooking. Drain pasta and greens together. For sauce, melt butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop mushrooms and garlic and add to pan. Saute until tender. Make a slurry of 2 tablespoons constarch and 1/4 cup milk; pour into pan, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes until the mixture is thick and gooey. Slowly pour in an additional 1 1/4 cups milk, stirring constantly. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and add cheese, stirring constantly until all cheese is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Pour finished sauce over hot pasta and greens; stir gently to combine. Garnish with cracked pepper and a little more parmesan cheese.
*If you’re making this dish for company, it’s worth taking time to remove the dark brown gills from the mushroom caps. They taste fine, but they’ll turn your cream sauce a gray color as they cook.
**If you want a more authentic Schmalloff Garten white-colored dish, you should use fettucine pasta made with refined wheat flour. Pictured is a delicious pumpkin penne from Austin Pasta Company. It was yummy, but resulted in a more yellow appearance than what I was originally going for.
Finally, here’s the nutrition information for my recipe, calculated on About.com’s very useful recipe calorie counter. The serving size here is 1 cup of the finished recipe.
If you’re interested, here is the nutrition information for a dinner portion of Schmalloff Garten’s fettuccine alfredo, as published on their website:
The restaurant only discloses those 5 categories of info, so there’s no telling how large the serving size actually is, and what specific ingredients are in the dish. The percentage of daily values were calculated by me according to the standard FDA values. (Please don’t sue me for doing math, Schmalloff Garten!!)