Healthy and Delicious: Red Pepper Alfredo

| January 7, 2011 | 7 Comments

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My husband knows that when I want to make a dietary change (like when I decided to cut way back on red meat last year), the whole family is going to be in on it with me. Hey, I am no short order cook, and I am confident that whatever healthy meals I serve will be fine for all. When I told him about Eat. Live. Be. For a Better 2011, he was right on board with eating healthier. (Color me lucky, right?)

So, Shawn did a little reading up and discovered Cook This, Not That! Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals, a handy little cookbook all about low-calorie, high-taste meals. Of course, he ran right out and bought it. Like that day.

This cookbook is super visual, pitting the healthy meals that are roughly 350-calories or so each (the book says this one was 390 calories, but since I used low-fat milk, it was slightly higher) against high-calorie restaurant meals. It’s really interesting to see how the meals are slimmed and how many calories are saved. Eye-opening really.

At my suggestion, Shawn made us this Red Pepper Alfredo for dinner from the book. He cooks breakfast often, but dinner rarely — mostly because I like to do it. But I am warming to sharing the responsibility again a bit. A little, little bit.

So, anyway, the alfredo. Oh. My. Goodness. If I didn’t know that it was low-calorie, I would never ever guess it. The rich, slightly sweet, creamy sauce is amazing. Actually decadent is a better way to describe it. I swear, we all nearly licked our bowls. Loved it.

We’re really liking this cookbook and cannot wait to try something else from it. What’s your favorite healthy cookbook?

Red Pepper Alfredo
serves 4
recipe adapted ever-so-slightly from Cook This, Not That! Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals

10 oz dried fettuccine
1 1/2 tbsp salted butter
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
salt and black pepper, to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions, until al dente.

While the pasta water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Cook for a minute. Pour in the milk and half and half a little at a time, whisking as you add it. Stir in the roasted red peppers and garlic. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Return to the pan and whisk in the Romano cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain well. Then toss with the sauce. Divide evenly among four bowls and let sit for a few minutes (the sauce will thicken as it cools).

Enjoy.

Category: Cookbooks, pasta, Recipes, Stuff

About the Author ()

Sarah W. Caron is a freelance writer, editor and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in countless online and print publications including iVillage, BELLA NYC Magazine, Yum for Kids magazine and more. She lives in Connecticut with her two kids, two beagles and husband.

Comments (7)

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  1. Wow, with that ingredient list I wouldn’t have guessed it was low-cal, either. I guess it’s all about portion size, right? Looks delicious!

    • Sarah Caron says:

      Maryea, you know, I think the calories are kept down mostly because although it has butter and milk and half and half and cheese, it’s only a little of each — and divide it four ways and it’s even less. The roasted red peppers really add a lot to this dish too.

  2. Kate says:

    I have that book, but haven’t used it yet. I’ll have to give it a closer look. We had red pasta last night too, using a sundried tomato pesto I made which is probably far less healthy.

  3. Kara says:

    Um .. there is NO way that this is 390 cals per serving. I just put all the ingredients into the recipe maker at livestrong.com and it came up with 1908 calories for the whole recipe, which is 477 per serving. Plus

    Add to that, the recipe may be low cal, but low cal isn’t always the healthiest option. That’s why I HATE the “eat this not that” series of books. They focus exclusively on calories and totally ignore the fact that a low calorie meal that is entirely made of up carbs and saturated fats is NOT the better option.

    Sorry, don’t mean to be a grump. I really do loathe this series of books for the absolutely horrible (and I believe dangerously ignorant) information they provide.

    • Sarah Caron says:

      Kara, You piqued my interest, so I did the same thing at SparkRecipes.com. 407 calories there. There are variations in several of these ingredients that could cause the caloric fluctuations. For instance, the Romano cheese is freshly grated and measured in the recipe by cups. For an accurate reading on calories, it would have to be ounces — when I grate with my microplane, it’s far lighter and fluffier than the grated I would purchase at a store. Likewise, the recipe didn’t specify what type of milk to use. We keep low-fat in the house, so that’s what I wrote when I was typing the recipe. If I’d used skim, the calorie count would be lower (and roughly what the book said).

      There is no perfect system to doing this. Low-cal, low-fat, low-carb, etc — all have their pros and cons. And this recipe is certainly not something to eat nightly, but it’s a nice way to indulge without totally overeating. And if this cookbook gets my husband into cooking and trying new things (like the roasted red peppers, which he turns his nose up to usually), then I am okay with giving it a shot.

      Thanks for reading! And for making me think more about this.

  4. Katkat521 says:

    I love this recipe. I make it all the time since discovering it in the cookbook last year. The whole family enjoys it. Sometimes I add some sauteed shrimp for protein.

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