“Lighter” Fettuccine Alfredo


Me and Al, we go way back.  However, Al is…ahem…a bit fattening, making it something I don’t indulge in all the time.  The problem though, I love Alfredo sauce; the creaminess, the richness, it’s just good comfort food.

So I did a little a searching for a lighter Alfredo sauce (don’t laugh) and came across one developed by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.  She is widely regarded as the first lady of Italian cuisine, an acclaimed chef and restaurateur.  She of course has a fabulous fettuccine Alfredo recipe with all the heavy cream and egg yolks you could want.  However, she does explain how to make a lighter Alfredo sauce, one that can be indulged in more often.

The key to a great Alfredo is organization and timing and of course cooking the pasta properly. 

Pasta needs lots of water, for 1/2 pound of pasta, as in this recipe, you need 3 quarts of water. And don’t ever add oil to the water, it makes your sauce slip right off.  For maximum flavor, add the pasta directly from the boiling water to the cooking sauce and simmer together for a few minutes.  The pasta will absorb some of the sauce and will intensify in flavor.

Now, as far as making a lower-fat version of Alfredo, the method is similar to regular Alfredo while the ingredients are different.  There is no cream or egg yolks but instead an unlikely character takes center stage, ricotta cheese. 

When cheese is made, the by-product is whey.  When heated, the whey becomes a nutritious, low-fat liquid known as ricotta.  I wish I could get my hands on Italian ricotta made from sheep, buffalo or goat’s milk.  It is a drier cheese with a nuttier flavor in comparison to its American counterpart made usually from cow’s milk with a more bland flavor.

I was worried the sauce would be grainy but when blended with milk and chicken broth it works.  Finely grated Parmesan helps thicken the sauce as well.

Overall, it was a good substitute for the much richer version of Fettuccine Alfredo however, it still clocks in at 15 grams of fat per serving.  If you think that’s bad, just imagine the calories in the full-fat version.

Boil salted water for the pasta over high heat and cook the pasta al dente. (How do you know it’s al dente?  Cut a piece, if you see a small, white dot in the center, it’s perfect.) 

Blend the ricotta, milk and chicken broth in a blender until smooth.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the ricotta mixture to the pan before the butter is completely melted.  Simmer 2-3 minutes.

Add pasta taken directly from the pasta water to the sauté pan.  Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat.  Cook until the sauce is reduced to a thick, creamy consistency; 1-2 minutes.  However, don’t over do it, longer and your sauce could get grainy.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with grated cheese and season to your liking with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss and serve.

Scallions gives it a nice color and a bit of flavor.  Serve immediately.

Add some chicken to make it a complete meal.

Fettuccine Alfredo, a lighter version
Adapted from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

8 ounces dried fettuccine
1 cup part-skim ricotta
2/3 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (not shredded)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup scallion, chopped (optional)

Boil salted water for the pasta over high heat and cook the pasta al dente. (How do you know it’s al dente?  Cut a piece, if you see a small, white dot in the center, it’s perfect.) 

Blend the ricotta, milk and chicken broth in a blender until smooth.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the ricotta mixture to the pan before the butter is completely melted.  Simmer 2-3 minutes.

Add pasta taken directly from the pasta water to the sauté pan.  Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat.  Cook until the sauce is reduced to a thick, creamy consistency. However, don’t over do it, longer and your sauce could get grainy.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with grated cheese and season to your liking with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss and serve.

Scallions gives it a nice color and a bit of flavor.

Serve immediately.

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36 Comments

  1. Monday night…THIS is on the menu.

    I’d do it Sunday night (which I guess, technically this is Sunday morning), we’re having 15 bean soup. Now I wish I hadn’t already started soaking my beans because my taste buds are set on that Alfredo.

  2. My sister and I were just the other day wishing for a lower-fat Alfredo recipe…Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Bob 3

    Nice. I have to try this, Alfredo is the bomb, but I am trying to lose weight so I haven’t eaten it in what seems ages.

  4. deeba 4

    Oooooh I love the skinny on Al. My current soft cheese making obsession, including ricotta & mascarpone, would fit in here beatifully. Love what you’ve posted today Cathy! Just my kind of non-eggy low cal Al!! Grazie!!

  5. Oh who doesn’t love a creamy Alfredo sauce?! It’s my brother’s favourite of all times. I like this lighter version, makes a great alternative and looks as nice as the original!

  6. I haven’t had Fettuccinie Alfredo in years. This recipe sounds really good!

  7. HoneyB 7

    ummm, I have a love affair with Al too…

  8. Lydia 8

    Sometimes you just have to have Alfredo sauce. Like mac and cheese, it’s the ultimate comfort food. Next time the urge strikes, though, I’m going to try this slightly healthier version.

  9. You are now my own personal hero and I love you for this…ahhhhhhhh. Al for breakfast? Do you think I can pull this one off?

  10. monique 10

    I am going to try this recipe with Al Dente Pasta (the brand).Maybe the classic Egg Fettuccine or perhaps even the Garlic Parsley.Al Dente cooks in just 3 minutes and tastes exactly like homemade. Yum

  11. Katrina 11

    Love Lydia! (As if we’re best friends or something, yeah, she and I (fingers crossed) are tight, kinda just like Rocco and I!–hehehe)
    This looks and sounds great. I’m always all for lighter versions of fattening things!
    I don’t often do this, but there’s a lighter version of canned alfredo (a couple different brands), that I actually think aren’t bad and have used. Some better than others! 😉

  12. This looks just as good as the regular version which I always find heavy anyway. I like a touch of nutmeg though the scallions would be a nice new addition.

  13. grace 13

    yeah, i always feel a little guilty when indulging on full-fat ‘fredo. i love your lightened version (and i love lidia)–great post!

  14. Lea Ann 14

    Thank you SO much for this recipe. I love it too and only prepare it about once a year due to the richness. Will most certainly add this to my database.

  15. annbb 15

    That looks wonderful!
    Ricotta cheese is easy and fast to make – I was amazed to find out – and our local supermarket now carries goats milk. Bet one near you does too. Maybe you could make your own goat’s milk ricotta…

  16. Fallon 16

    mm that sounds really good! I’m sure you can’t tell the difference of it being a “lighter” version. Looks just as good!

  17. Barbara 17

    That looks just as gooey and delicous as the “real” version. Great photos! Copying now.

  18. megan 18

    I would love to indulge in some skinny alfredo.

  19. pam 19

    I love Lidia! I have Al so rarely, that when I do, I go for the gusto.

  20. It’s so nice to find a yummy light alfredo sauce! I am such a nut for alfredo! I love it over pasta and I love to dip my bread into it! Yum!

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks!

  21. Both of my girls love Alfredo sauce. I will have to try this when Hermit Crab comes home from college at Christmas!

  22. I too ador Alfredo–but mostly avoid it. this sounds like a great idea!!

  23. Melynda 23

    Yum!!! I never allowed myself to become BFF with Al, but now I have a chance to get to know him a little better.

  24. Steph 24

    Your lighter version looks delicious! Most of the time I can’t eat cream pasta because it’s way too rich.

  25. Kate 25

    Love this. Love it! Just can’t eat it right now. Your recipe looks divine, though.

  26. Chris 26

    I make a low-fat Alfredo for my kids that uses skim milk, garlic, flour, low fat cream cheese and parmesan. Not quite the real thing but close enough.

  27. Leslie 27

    Me an Al go WAY back as well. I am a white sauce freak..however since my metabolism has run away, I stay clear of it(most of the time)lol
    Looks divine!

  28. Maria 28

    Sounds delicious!! Why don’t you try making your own ricotta using goat’s milk? I have a recipe for ricotta using cow’s milk but I bet you can substitute the cow’s milk for the goat’s milk.

  29. This is one of the dishes that you’re happy to see a lower cal version of from time to time. There are many out there, but the ricotta is a really great addition.

  30. dawn 30

    man does that ever look good. and it’s lighter you say? I didn’t think Linda could ever make something Italian in a ‘lighter’ form.

  31. It’s so exciting to see everyone digging out their favorite comfort food recipes. Crisp, cool nights with warm, creamy Alfredo sounds just right.

  32. imom 32

    Can’t do Al, but my daughter will be all over this recipe!

  33. I love Al and he likes my hips and I think he is a butt man too.

  34. A new version of “heart attack on a plate” … oh, I mean, Al. LOL Seriously, this looks fabulous, Cathy. Ricotta center stage is fine with me. I just need to pick up some gluten-free noodles. This is one of our favorite dishes, but not one we have very often, of course. Can’t wait to try your new lighter version!

    Shirley

  35. Oh how I love Alfredo! I haven’t had it in a very long time…maybe I will try a lighter version one of these days!

  36. kayola 36

    yummmmmmmmmmm I ♥ ALFREDO! Especially with garlic breadsticks dipped in it….