Even on a pasta scale, alfredo sauce really takes the cake, so to speak. This cheese and cream-based sauce is certainly less healthy than its tomato counterpart of marinara sauce, but this distinctive Italian dish is both rich and fulfilling. Prepare a lighter and healthier version of alfredo sauce with this Orecchiette Alfredo and Vegetables recipe.
The most commonly seen alfredo recipe remains fettuccine alfredo, but try something outside the box with orecchiette. This unique pasta is shaped like tiny bowls, or "little ears" in the proper Italian translation. For a healthier twist on alfredo pasta, replace some of the starchy pasta content with broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, onion, and orange bell pepper. Finally, and most significantly, this alfredo sauce is cut with reduced-fat milk, less butter and a reduced amount of parmesan cheese than the original.
In a fortunate turn of events, alfredo sauce was first created by the Italian restaurant-owner for which it was named -- Alfredo di Lelio. In an effort to get his sickly, pregnant wife to eat, Alfredo created the rich, buttery, cheesy concoction that came to be known as alfredo sauce. (The takeaway here is that while you can happily enjoy this more nutritious recipe of Orecchiette Alfredo and Vegetables without pause, be wary of serving it to a pregnant woman craving the heavier, ultra-rich recipe!)
Make a guilty pleasure a little less guilty with this variation of an Italian classic. You will thank yourself in the long run with healthy recipe adaptations like this Orecchiette Alfredo and Vegetables.
- 1/2 package orecchiette pasta
- 1 cup broccoli, diced
- 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 2/3 cup orange bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced (plus additional for garnish)
Begin by preparing the pasta according to package instructions. In the last three minutes of cooking, add the broccoli. Drain well in a colander. Set aside until ready to use.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, mushrooms and orange pepper. Once vegetables are tender, sprinkle with flour. Stir constantly for approximately two minutes. Next, stir in the milk. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens (approximately five minutes).
Season mixture with onion powder, pepper, salt and nutmeg. Add parmesan cheese. Continue to cook until cheese melts. Remove from heat, and stir the fresh parsley into the sauce.
Gently toss the pasta and broccoli into the alfredo sauce. Serve garnished with additional parsley.