Here at Cook's Country, we put healthier spins on these iconic pasta dishes. Our foolproof recipes are developed to cut fat and calories -- but keep all of the flavor. Which ones will make it to your dinner table?
Low-Fat Fettuccine Alfredo
BEFORE: Traditional Fettuccine Alfredo
Saturated Fat: 27g
Saturated Fat: 6g
HOW WE GOT THERE:
- Standard recipes contain 1½ cups of heavy cream, a stick of butter, and 2 cups of cheese. Many low-fat Alfredo recipes cut calories simply by switching out the cream for lower-fat dairy products such as half-and-half, whole milk, or evaporated milk.
- With very little roux (just 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 teaspoons of flour), we were able to thicken the sauce nicely without heavy cream. Instead of using only half-and-half, we settled on ¾ cup whole milk and just ¼ cup half-and-half for a happy medium of creamy texture, rich taste, and reduced fat.
- As for the cheese, a full cup of Parmesan contributed just 4 grams of fat per serving but added nutty, complex flavor.
Cook's Country Low-Fat Fettuccine Alfredo
Our low-fat Alfredo is quick and easy, and big on creamy, rich flavor and texture.
Serves 4 as a first course
Make the sauce while the pasta water is heating up. Once the sauce is done, you should be ready to cook the pasta. Fresh pasta is more porous than dried, and we recommend it here because it will better absorb the sauce.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup half-and-half
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
Salt and pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 (9-ounce) package fresh fettuccine
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot over high heat. Using ladle, fill each of 4 individual serving bowls with about ½ cup boiling water. Set aside.
2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Whisk in flour until mixture is smooth and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, half-and- half, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard garlic, stir in Parmesan, and remove from heat.
3. Stir 1 tablespoon salt and pasta into boiling water and cook, stirring constantly, until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.
4. Return sauce to low heat, add ⅓ cup pasta water and cooked pasta; toss until evenly coated. Cook until sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Add more cooking water as needed to thin sauce to proper consistency and adjust seasonings. Working quickly, empty water from warmed bowls and fill with pasta. Serve immediately.
Low-Fat Spaghetti Carbonara
BEFORE: Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara
Saturated Fat: 11g
AFTER: Cook's Country Low-Fat Spaghetti Carbonara
Saturated Fat: 3g
HOW WE GOT THERE
- Starting with the test kitchen's favorite full-fat Carbonara recipe, we started paring down strategically. A few ounces of smoky, meaty, and relatively lean Canadian bacon replaced six strips of bacon; two remaining slices of bacon rendered enough drippings for sautéing the garlic. Bumping up the garlic, pepper, and wine brought bigger flavor without excess fat and calories.
- As we subtracted the eggs and cream, we replaced the richness they provided with fat-free evaporated milk (which offered a thick, creamy texture) and just 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (for flavor and consistency).
- Traditional Carbonara typically uses either Pecorino or Parmesan cheese; by using the more assertive Pecorino, we were able to save calories and fat by adding less.
Cook's Country Low-Fat Spaghetti Carbonara
For creamy, silky carbonara without all the fat, three secret ingredients are essential in this recipe.
Any long, thin pasta such as linguine or fettuccine will also work here. An equal amount of Parmesan cheese may be substituted for the Pecorino, although the cheese flavor will be less pronounced.
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (see note)
¼ cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces Canadian bacon, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon pepper
⅓ cup white wine
1 pound spaghetti (see note)
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Process egg, egg white, cheese, evaporated milk, and 1½ tablespoons mayonnaise in food processor until smooth; leave mixture in food processor.
2. Cook both bacons in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until fat has rendered and bacon is browned, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to bowl; set aside.
3. Add garlic and pepper to fat in pan and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat, cover, and keep warm.
4. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta, and return to pot. Toss pasta with remaining ½ tablespoon mayonnaise until coated.
5. With motor running, slowly add wine mixture and ¼ cup hot pasta cooking water to egg mixture and process until smooth and frothy, about 1 minute. Immediately pour egg mixture over hot pasta and toss to combine, adding reserved cooking water as necessary to adjust consistency. Stir in crisp bacon and season with salt. Serve.
Low-Fat Meaty Lasagna
BEFORE: Traditional Meaty Lasagna
Saturated Fat: 16g
AFTER: Cook's Country Low-Fat Meaty Lasagna
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
HOW WE GOT THERE:
- In lieu of beef, pork, veal, or bacon, we used ground turkey bolstered by the "meaty" flavor and texture of mushrooms. We finely chopped the mushrooms in the food processor to give them a meaty texture similar to that of the ground turkey, and then sautéed them with onion, carrot, and garlic.
- Classic lasagna Bolognese recipes call for simmering the meat in wine as well as milk or cream; the wine adds flavor and the dairy tenderizes the meat. To save calories, we omitted the wine, and 2-percent milk tenderized the meat and enriched the sauce nicely.
- To build the lasagna, instead of alternating meat sauce, white sauce, and noodles, we saved the white sauce for the top of the lasagna. It made its flavor more pronounced, and we didn't need as much of it, thereby slashing additional calories and fat.
Cook's Country Low-Fat Meaty Lasagna
Ground turkey, finely chopped mushrooms, and vegetables lend "meaty" flavor and texture-without the added calories.
For bolder flavor, add ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes to the meat sauce and a pinch of nutmeg to the white sauce. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop the vegetables by hand.
1 small carrot, cut into chunks
1 pound mushrooms (cremini or white)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes with juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1¼ pounds ground turkey, 93% lean
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
½ cup minced fresh basil
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1. Pulse carrot, mushrooms, and garlic in food processor until finely chopped; transfer to bowl. Process tomatoes in food processor until almost smooth. Combine 1 teaspoon oil, onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until onion is softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrot, mushrooms, and garlic and cook, uncovered, until mushrooms release their liquid, 5 to 7 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add tomato paste and cook until paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in turkey and 1 cup milk, using wooden spoon to break up any large chunks, and cook until most of milk has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, 1 cup broth, and bay leaf; bring to simmer and cook until sauce has thickened and most of liquid has evaporated, 45 to 60 minutes. Off heat, remove bay leaf, stir in basil, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, whisk remaining 1 cup milk, remaining 1 cup broth, and flour together in medium saucepan until smooth. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 teaspoon oil and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread 2 cups meat sauce in 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Lay 3 noodles over sauce, leaving space between them. Repeat with 3 more layers sauce and noodles. Spread white sauce evenly over top layer of noodles, leaving 1-inch border around edge. Bake until lasagna is bubbling around edges and top begins to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on rack 20 minutes. Serve.
To make ahead: You can make both the meat sauce and the white sauce up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate them until ready to use. Gently reheat the sauces separately before proceeding with step 4.