Fettuccine Alfredo’s lighter cousin

A dish of fettuccine pasta with a lighter version of Alfredo sauce
Not quite Fettuccine Alfredo, but still very good

This recipe is similar to Fettuccine Alfredo, but is a much lighter version, without all of the butter and cream of the original.

I am always reluctant to call my pasta dishes by their popular names, because by the time I have finished messing with them, they are so far removed from the original that no self-respecting Italian would recognise them as such. So my version of Spaghetti Carbonara is never called such, because I usually add cream and mushrooms to the basic egg/cheese/bacon mix.

This version of Fettuccine Alfredo is in search of a new name as we speak. The original is a high fat, high calorie delight, full of butter, cream and cheese. It’s delicious, and fine as an occasional treat but not really the sort of thing you’d want to feed to your family on a regular basis.

My version is much lighter, and on its own would be fine to use as a quick lunch. If you want to boost the protein content, then you could serve some chicken alongside – I like to simply steam some chicken breasts but roast or griddled chicken would work as well.

If you wanted to make it even lighter, you could use low-fat greek yoghurt rather than creme fraiche, but remember to remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for a minute or two before you add the yoghurt. This should prevent the yoghurt from curdling, which can happen if you add it to hot liquid.

I’ve used fettuccine pasta here, because it’s the traditional shape of pasta for the original recipe. But I’m sure that Alfredo wouldn’t mind you using tagliatelle, linguine, pappardelle – any of the flat ribbon pasta. After all, what’s one more alteration to the recipe?

Updated 05/11/13 – After I published this post on 04/11/13, I received a comment from Ines di Lelio, whose grandfather invented the original dish. The comment is published below, and includes some of the history of Fettucine Alfredo, which is still served at ‘Il Vero Alfredo’ in Rome.


Fettuccine Alfredo’s lighter cousin (serves 4)

250g fettuccine or other ribbon pasta
1 tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
150ml hot chicken stock (I use Knorr Touch of Taste)
75g grated Parmesan cheese
250ml low fat creme fraiche
Salt and black pepper
Handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and cook your pasta according to its instructions.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and add the butter. This is just a small amount, but does add a buttery flavour to the dish. If you prefer, you could substitute olive or rapeseed oil.

When the butter has melted, add the crushed garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Pour in the hot chicken stock and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the cheese and stir into the stock until melted, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche.

Return the pan to the heat and stir for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the cooking water first, and then toss with the sauce. If it looks like the sauce needs a little loosening, use a small amount of the cooking water.

Serve with flat leaf parsley and an extra grating of Parmesan, if you wish.