A quicker, healthier alfredo sauce.
I love pasta. I love alfredo sauce. I can’t believe I grew up not eating cheese, convinced I didn’t like it. But once I met my future husband and his Italian family, I discovered I love cheeses. In my quest to make an Alfredo sauce where I controlled the ingredients and hopefully the calories and fat, I came up with this sauce. I use Evaporated Skim Milk instead of cream and I cut back on the butter, but I don’t skimp on the cheese. I use real, 100% parmesan. I serve this with sautéed chicken cutlets and top it with fresh, chopped tomato and fresh parsley. This instantly became a family favorite – especially by one member in particular. And this can be made in between trips through town. I make this while driving around to hockey games, dance lessons, volleyball practice, CCD, and a husband who works 55 hours a week this time of year.
16 ounces Penne Pasta – use whole wheat if your family will let you, mine won’t. Or use Multi-grain; sometimes I get away with multi-grain but not always. My family knows their pasta!
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 12 ounce cans Evaporated Skim Milk
1 ¼ cups grated or shredded parmesan cheese. Don’t use sprinkle cheese. If you don’t want to shred your own, then buy the bagged, shredded cheese. That is what I always use and it is delicious.
Salt and pepper
2 lbs. boneless chicken breast or chicken cutlets. I always make my own cutlets because chicken goes on sale so often at Market Basket that I fill up my freezer and pride myself on never paying full price.
Creole seasonings – Our favorite is Zatarains, but my husband makes a great mixture following a recipe by Emeril. We like our chicken spicy, but if you don’t, try Montreal Chicken Seasonings by McCormick or McCormick Season All. Flavorful chicken really adds to this dish.
Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil for sauteing.
Chopped tomato – this time of year I think Grape or Cherry tomatoes have the most flavor.
You can make this dinner all at once or in sections. You can sauté the chicken and put in the refrigerator for serving later and make the sauce and pasta closer to dinner time. Or you make the sauce and top the cooked pasta with it – don’t mix up, just top the pasta with the sauce - and put it in the refrigerator. I do this because the pasta really soaks up the sauce if I mix it together. This recipe makes a lot of sauce and if you just top the pasta with it, then when you take some and reheat it, you’ll get plenty of sauce with your pasta. Use a container that is not deep, but large enough for the pasta so you can put the sauce on the pasta and you can cover a lot of the pasta with the sauce. I always use “see through” containers for leftovers. If my family can’t survey the entire contents of the refrigerator as soon as they open the door, then there is “nothing to eat in this house”.
For making all at once – Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. You can make your sauce and chicken while the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking.
Sauce directions: Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Once the butter is melted, add the flour to the butter and mix as well as you can. Cook for 1 minute. Then add the evaporated milk and stir well. The flour will melt into the milk. Cook and stir for about 8 minutes or until the sauces thickens and is almost boiling. Remove from the heat and add the parmesan. Stir until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper. Cover the pan and the sauce can now sit until you are ready to serve it. The sauce will thicken while sitting. You may have to warm it up a little before serving, just be sure to stir it while reheating. And if it gets too thick for you, add a little milk to thin it out.
Chicken directions: I use boneless, breast of chicken. I cut the breast into cutlets by cutting the breast in half and then I cut the thicker half horizontally. Pound out the chicken to ¼ - ½ inch thickness by placing between plastic wrap and use a mallet or rolling pin to pound it. Cover both sides of the chicken cutlet with the Creole seasonings. Put a little olive oil or vegetable oil in a skillet so it just barely covers the bottom of the skillet. Sauté the chicken on medium high for about 2 minutes per side. It will probably take you at least 2 batches to sauté the 2 pounds of chicken. Test the chicken for doneness before taking from the skillet; cut into a piece of the cutlet. The chicken should be firm with no pink, but still moist. The chicken will continue to cook a little after you remove it from the skillet. Try not to overcook. Also remember reheating will cook the chicken a little as well.
Place pasta with sauce on a dish. Top with the chicken and the chopped tomato and the fresh parsley and serve.
To reheat, use your microwave but use it on less than full power. If you have never used the “power” option on your microwave, look into how it works. Check the manual because something like pasta and this sauce will over heat quickly in the microwave and the sauce can separate. If you reheat it at 50% power, it will take longer to reheat, ( 2 minutes instead of 1 minute, and a stir between minutes for instance, not a significant difference) but will reheat more evenly and will not as likely get over done. Having the ability to use less than 100% power in my microwave is something I cannot live without. Things take longer to reheat, but they don’t get over heated.