Can it really be Friday already and the middle of July?!! Why does the summer always hurry by when the winter seems to hang around forever?! It's one of life's strange phenomenon, I guess. Well, no matter, it gives me yet another chance to showcase another fabulous chef--this week it's Ellie Krieger, not only the host of the Food Network's Healthy Appetite, but a registered dietitian as well and a woman who is passionately committed to improving the way we eat without having to sacrifice taste and enjoyment. Take for example, this Light Chicken Alfredo with Zucchini Ribbons, which has almost half the calories of the regular version, but still tastes entirely decadent and satisfying. My whole family loved this and it will definitely be going into the regular repertoire!
I have Ellie's book, Comfort Food Fix and it's filled with all your favorite comfort foods, just lighter versions. There are recipes for Crispy French Toast Fingers, 5 Layer Mexican Dip, Chili, Mashed Potatoes...even Cheesecake! And so far everything I've made has been delicious and not at all "diety". Ellie cooks for how you want to live, just maybe 10 pounds lighter! Plus, her recipes are not complicated or full of hard-to-find ingredients. Pick up one her 5 cookbooks and get to it!
What helps to keep the calories down in this Chicken Alfredo is the fact that the base for the dish is half fettuccine noodles and half zucchini ribbons, so you can still have a hefty portion without overdoing it. You start by slicing the zucchini very thinly using a mandoline (or just a sharp knife) and then stacking them and cutting them into "ribbons".
Then you saute those "ribbons" with some chopped garlic--
Next you saute thin sliced chicken cutlets in a bit of olive oil, boil up the fettuccine and make the alfredo sauce, which is kept light because it's made up of 1% milk and and evaporated skim milk, but is heavy on flavor because it's well seasoned with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Then it's just a matter of tossing everything together and plating it!
Each bite will make you feel like you're cheating, but there's really no need to feel guilty. It's only 660 calories for 2 cups of pasta and one chicken breast, which to me, especially in the warm summer months, is plenty. So...if you want to keep fitting into those bathing suits guys, but don't want to sacrifice taste or carbs, try out this delicious dish this weekend! And pick up one of Ellie's books--she'll help you figure out how to balance it out. Have a great and tasty weekend everyone!
Ellie Krieger's Light Chicken Alfredo with Zucchini Ribbons-Famous Fridays
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
2 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 package of thinly sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (About 1 pound--if you have thicker ones, pound them thin)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces fettuccine pasta, white or wholewheat
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cold 1% milk
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk (not condensed)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
1. Slice the ends off the zucchini and throw them away. Then, using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice the zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices. Stack them on top of each other and cut into 1/4 inch wide ribbons.
2. In a large non-stick pan, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add half of the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring every now and then, just until the zucchini is tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Mewanwhile, season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper. Add chicken to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
4. Cook the pasta, al dente, according to the directions on the box. Before draining reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Then drain and return to the pot.
5. While pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the flour and 1% milk, stirring until the flour is entirely dissolved. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Then add the milk-flour mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, still stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add the evaporated milk, the rest of the salt and the Parmesan cheese and cook, stirring for about 1 more minute, until the cheese is melted.
6. Add 1 cup of the sauce, the zucchini and some of the parsley (if using) to the cooked pasta in the pot and toss to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water as necessary, to loosen the sauce.
7. To serve, place 2 cups of the pasta mixture on each plate, top with a piece of chicken and spoon remaining sauce over. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately
8. This recipe doubles well, although you'll have to cook the chicken in two batches. Also leftovers reheat really well in the microwave.
Note: Recipe adapted from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger.