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Recipe: Easy Walnut Fettuccini Alfredo

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After a busy week, grocery shopping and cooking should be quick and easy. Take advantage of healthy food choices you probably already have in your pantry, freezer, or refrigerator. I tried this technique recently when I had to prepare a meal fit for a (small) army.

On a recent family trip, everyone was assigned one night to make dinner. I wanted something sure to please a variety of palates and not keep me in the kitchen too long; this was my vacation, too! I went to my 100% Italian heritage and honed in on a pasta bar for our 20 family and friends. I simplified by offering only spaghetti noodles and several toppings: a homemade red sauce lightly accented with red pepper and grated veggies, an alfredo sauce, several proteins (meatballs, sausage, grilled chicken), and a tossed garden salad. We grew up with pasta topped with red sauce and pasta with olive oil and grated parmesan, so I had plenty of the ingredients at home already. However, the cream-based sauce was a departure from tradition and it was a huge hit—the next day the kids clamored for more pasta with Alfredo sauce.

The next time you crave an Italian meal at home, clean out those cupboards and prepare this lightened up version of Fettuccini Alfredo. The fat from cream is replaced with walnuts, which offer the most omega-3 healthy fats of any nut. Walnuts also add a bit more fiber to the dish. The recipe calls for Prosciutto, which offers a lot of flavor in one ounce, but you can substitute shrimp or a blackened chicken for the meat. By the way, this dish goes really well with a side of Panzanella salad.

Easy Walnut Fettuccini Alfredo Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup California walnut pieces
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. regular salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces (1/2 pound) dry fettuccine
  • 1 ½ cups frozen petite peas
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ounce prosciutto, cut into thin strips

Preparation:

Place walnuts and water in food processor. Puree until very smooth. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk and flour. Add garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring until slightly thickened and smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in walnut mixture; simmer and stir over low heat until thickened, 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, adding peas during last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain.

Combine pasta, peas, Parmesan, and sauce. Stir over low heat just until heated through and pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Top each serving with a few strips of prosciutto.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 364 ; Total Fat: 17 g ; Saturated Fat: 3 g ; Polyunsaturated Fat: 9.3 g ; Carbohydrates: 40 g ; Protein: 17 g ; Vitamin A: 894 IU ; Vitamin C: 7 mg ; Calcium: 212 mg ; Sodium: 453 mg ; Iron: 2.6 mg ; Fiber: 4 g

This recipe/blog post is connecting kids to 500 meals through Macaroni Grill's campaign with Share Our Strength with a link to www.1millionmeals.com.

What is your favorite Italian recipe?

Trina Robertson, MS, RD Trina Robertson, MS, RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. As a HealthyEating.org Mom she shares her positive approach to healthy eating with the goal of inspiring others to prepare and enjoy foods from each of the food groups. As a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California, Trina develops, evaluates, and promotes nutrition education materials for students and adults. At home she enjoys cooking and sharing meals with her family. Her most rewarding accomplishment is that her boys are good eaters and are learning to cook. Follow Trina on Twitter @TrinaR_RD and find more Healthy Eating ideas on Facebook.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

Comments

One Response to “Recipe: Easy Walnut Fettuccini Alfredo”

  1. Trina says:

    Here’s a recent LA Times articles on why nuts are good for you: http://ow.ly/eu768.

    The great thing about this recipe is that if you don’t tell the family there are nuts, they won’t know (or at least my family didn’t).

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