I had not cooked pasta for the last few weeks which was surprising for me...especially since it brings the whole family to the dinner table like a magnet, everytime... irrespective of whether it is mac n cheese, spaghetti or penne pasta...you name it, they love it.
So, when the kids mentioned pasta, I went hunting in the pantry and came up with fettucini noodles...I normally make fettucini with bell-pepper and/or spinach...but didnt have either of those veggies so came up with the idea of trying some new veggies to go into the alfredo sauce (for the fettucini)...had some garlic bread too.
My alfredo sauce has no cheese in it, it is quite light and definitely has a saucy but not very heavy consistency...very low-fat...you can of course, add cheese to it, if you wish. I normally add the cheese as a topping, only. This is the recipe I served one day last weekend...hope you enjoy it as much as my family did...
This recipe goes to the event: Pasta Party hosted by Jyoti V. of Panch Pakwan.
BAKED FETTUCINI PASTA WITH CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI IN LIGHT ALFREDO SAUCE -
Serves: 5 to 6
Prep/cook time: 30 to 35 mins.
1 lb.fettucini noodles (I used whole wheat fettucini)
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tsp butter
3 to 4 cloves garlic cut finely
1tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 head of broccoli cut into medium size florets
1/2 head of cauliflower cut into medium size florets
For topping the pasta:
3 to 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
parsley or basil - few leaves(optional)
breadcrumbs or toasted croutons - 2tbsp
1 tbsp. light olive oil, salt & black pepper to taste
1. Start large pot of water to boil for cooking noodles. When water starts to boil, add a little salt(to season pasta) and then add the fettucini itself. Let cook for 6 to 7 minutes (whole wheat pasta takes a minute or two longer than the regular pasta to cook). Take off stove and drain pasta when almost done(but not fully cooked - pasta needs to be baked finally)
2. In a pan, add the olive oil, cut/crushed garlic and red pepper flakes(and any additional salt) and saute for a minute or two. Add the vegs. before the garlic starts turning brown. Let cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Then, add the drained pasta to it. Set aside. Now, set oven to pre-heat at 350degrees Fahrenheit.
3. In another non-stick pan, add the butter and flour and nicely stir together to remove any lumps from the flour...when the mixture starts bubbling and almost starts changing color, add the milk and let simmer for 3 or 4 mins. Keep whisking in between, to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Take off the stove when well-mixed and the sauce has become thick. Dont leave the sauce unattended when it is boiling because then the sauce starts to become too thick and pasty(not good!)
TIP: The sauce takes typically 3 to 4 minutes to thicken up nicely...beyond 5 mins...could start sticking to pan and become pasty.
4. Once the sauce and the pasta-veg mixture is ready, grease a baking pan with light cooking spray(or butter, if you wish) and add some sauce on the bottom.
5. Now, add the pasta-veg. mixture over the layer of sauce and then, finally add a final layer of the remaining sauce.
6. Top the pasta with the parmesan cheese, black pepper, basil/parsley(optional) and breadcrumbs/croutons. Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and bake for 15 - 20 mins(at 350F), until the top turns golden brown.
Serve warm or at room temperature with garlic bread or soup or side of vegs...I served with a side of garlic bread and grilled eggplant(recipe follows)
For grilled eggplant:
Cut 1 big - sized eggplant in round slices...arrange on baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle a mixture of breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, little tomato puree and parmesan cheese on top(Sometimes I use mozzarella cheese too). Sprinkle some light olive oil on the slices of eggplant and bake at 350 F for about 10 to 15 mins...till nice and crispy. Season with salt and pepper as soon as it comes out of the oven.