Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Light Cajun Alfredo Sauce

My husband and I have been together for over 8 years and I can honestly say, I have never made Alfredo sauce for him, which is his favorite. I know, bad wife! I've never been a fan of cream sauces or making Alfredo sauce at home (usually I just get store bought and heat separate sauces for our pasta). 

Alfredo on the Light Side

In an effort to try to come up with a lighter version of Alfredo and one that I would enjoy as well, I thought about adding some spice.

Light Cajun Alfredo Sauce

I also thought about creamy ingredients that are not as heavy (and not as high in fat). I love using mascarpone cheese, but it is very high in fat (about 47% fat to be exact). The best substitute to maintain consistency is low-fat cream cheese, but I went one step further and used cottage cheese instead. And finally, by incorporating a strong flavored cheese like pepper jack, sharp cheddar or parmesan, this allows for less amounts, i.e. lower fat.
Light Cajun Alfredo Sauce

I have now made this twice for the hubby and he loves it every time. The first time we added shrimp to the pasta dish and this time, we used chicken thighs. Both were fantastic, but this can simply be a vegetarian meal also. If spice is not your thing, then leave out the blackening or cajun spices and the jalapeno. 

Next time I am going to double the recipe so we have more leftovers! 

Light Cajun Alfredo Sauce

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1/2 box (13.25oz.) Linguine pasta (your favorite brand)
1 cup reserved pasta water *
1 cup low fat cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
1 cup skim milk
½ cup Parmesan, grated
¼ cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 tsp salt
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (leave in seeds for more heat)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined or 1 pound chicken (optional)
1 T olive oil
1 ½ T Blackening Rub (or other blackening rub or cajun spices)
2 cups fresh spinach, shopped
1 ½ T Flour (any kind)
1 ½ T butter
fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Put a large pot of water on high heat to boil for the pasta.

While this comes to a boil, mix ricotta cheese, milk, parmesan and pepper jack in a blender or food processor, until well blended. Set aside.

Add 1 T of salt to the boiling water and add pasta, cook according to box directions. Before draining the pasta, be sure to reserve some of the starchy pasta water to use later if needed.

If adding shrimp: In a medium-sized bowl, stir shrimp, Cajun seasoning and olive oil. Heat large sauté pan on medium heat and sauté seasoned shrimp until cooked through (about 2-4 minutes). DO NOT OVERCOOK. Take the shrimp out and set aside. 

If adding chicken: Drizzle olive oil into a large saute pan over medium heat. Season the chicken on both sides with the blackening spices. Saute the chicken on both sides for 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the poultry. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.

Melt the butter into the same pan as the meat (if using) and saute the chopped jalapeno and garlic for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the flour and whisk to make a roux (this will help thicken the alfredo sauce). The roux only needs to heat up (about 2 minutes). Add in the cheese/milk mixture and whisk until well combined and thickened. Stir in the spinach until just wilted and mix in pasta. Serve immediately with meat and Parmesan cheese and/or red pepper flakes for garnish.

Light Cajun Alfredo Sauce

Light Cajun Alfredo Sauce

Light Cajun Alfredo Sauce

*If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water.

**To make this vegetarian, simply leave out the shrimp or chicken and add the cajun spice into the cheese/milk mixture.

***To make this regular alfredo sauce, leave out the cajun spice and jalapeno.

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