Truth be told, I haven’t allowed myself to eat pasta with alfredo or any other full on, cream based sauce, for most of my adult life. It was an easy sacrifice for me to make in my effort to stay in the same size jeans. As a result, if I even attempt it to eat it now, I can only manage a forkful or two. It’s just too rich for my taste buds. On the other hand, my boys have no problem demolishing a huge plateful.
This lightened up version makes us all happy. It doesn’t qualify entirely as a “skinny” recipe since there is still some butter and Parmesan involved but replacing heavy cream with fat free half-and-half reduces the amount of fat and calories by a substantial amount. It is far less guilt inducing and will satisfy both the cream sauce lovers and the folks watching their waistlines, alike.
I’ve heard the good and the bad about using reduced or fat free ingredients and everyone should choose what suits them best, but here is the breakdown. Two tablespoons of fat free half-and-half has 20 calories and zero grams of fat. The same amount of heavy cream has a whopping 100 calories and 10 grams of fat.
I like to stock the dry pastas available from Trader Joe’s. This 16 ounce bag of organic fusilli was only $1.29 and it’s good stuff. Fusilli is a great choice for alfredo but you can substitute any dry pasta you’d like to use.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, lightly steam 3 cups of chopped broccoli until fork tender. I have this handy, dandy, pasta pot with a steamer basket insert. My pasta cooks below in the larger pot while my broccoli steams up above.
This very old and beloved pot was given to me by my mother-in-law at my bridal shower and it has cooked a ridiculous amount of pasta over the years. It’s a wonderful thing when a loved one gives you a kitchen item and every time you use it, they come to mind. I frequently feel the presence of my mother-in-law and my own mom in my kitchen when I’m cooking.
Meanwhile, cut 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Cook the chicken in a little olive oil, seasoning with some seasoning salt and fresh ground pepper as it cooks. When it is thoroughly cooked, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
Transfer the cooked and drained pasta, the steamed broccoli, and cooked chicken to a casserole dish.
Time to whip up the lightened up alfredo sauce. Whisk 1/3 cup flour into 1/3 cup melted butter in a large saucepan. Cook and whisk for a minute or two and then gradually add 2-1/2 cups fat free half-and-half. Use a wooden spoon to stir the sauce until it begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and add 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Remove the pan from heat and add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. I’m using the shaved Parmesan I get from Costco.
Stir until the Parmesan is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Pour the alfredo sauce over the pasta mixture and stir well to combine. Bake the pasta at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, just till warmed through.
When heated through, remove it from the oven and sprinkle with some additional Parmesan before serving.
Slice a loaf of French bread and open a nice bottle of wine and dig in!
Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (Lightened Up)
- 16 ounces fusilli or other dry pasta
- 3 cups chopped broccoli
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoning Salt
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 cups fat-free half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus additional for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Steam broccoli until fork tender, about 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut chicken into bite size pieces. Saute in olive oil in a large pan. Season with 1 teaspoon seasoning salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Remove from heat and set aside
- Melt 1/3 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 1/3 cup flour. Whisk and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add the fat free half-and-half and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thickened nicely. Reduce heat to low and add 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Remove pan from heat and add 1/2 cup Parmesan, stirring until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth.
- Pour the alfredo sauce over the pasta mixture and stir gently to distribute throughout
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.
- Top with additional Parmesan cheese before serving.
- Adapted from Chef In Training