Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo and Roasted Asparagus

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – August 25, 2011
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For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of the Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo recipe, please click here.
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of the Roasted Asparagus recipe, please click here.

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo recipe originally published in Cooking Light – September 2011.
Roasted Asparagus recipe originally published in Cooking Light – September 2011.

I love alfredo.  I REALLY love it.  Unfortunately, it has got to be one of the least healthy pasta dishes you can make.  Weighed down by cream and butter, it is one of those meals that we can only have once in a blue moon.  So imagine my excitement when I was presented with a healthier version of one of my favorite dishes.

You Want Me to Cook?
Shrimp Alfredo and Roasted Asparagus
Now I know what you’re thinking… it doesn’t look as good without alfredo sauce oozing all over the plate.  Trust me though.  It didn’t need it.  I didn’t get as pretty of a plating (or picture for that matter) but it still looked pretty close to that from the magazine.  I certainly wouldn’t push this away from me at the table.

© Cooking Light
I’m sure you’re looking at their picture and understand why I decided to give this a try.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  I will say that you can tell that I tossed my pasta with the sauce first.  While it may not have made for a prettier picture, it definitely coated the pasta and every bite was full of flavor.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – There was a lot of equipment needed for the shrimp alfredo dish.  You have to save pasta water (never an easy task) and there is plenty of ooey gooey cheese that needs to be scraped off the pot when you’re cleaning it.  Then there’s having to peel and devein shrimp, a job I absolutely HATE with a passion.  I was much more interested in eating what I had made than cleaning it up.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND AN HOUR – This isn’t bad for a complete meal, but there isn’t a lot of room to shave off any time either unless you have help in the kitchen for that night.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – There isn’t a lot of chopping, but peeling and deveining the shrimp pushes it up there as a messy one to prep.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS/MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR – This is one of my first double ratings because I feel like it falls somewhere in between.  Honestly, for someone with moderate skills, it is fairly easy to make.  If you are a beginner, you’ll absolutely be able to do it, but the recipe moves fast, so make sure you read it over well and have everything prepped and ready to go.

OverallSORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – My husband isn’t keen on asparagus, but even he was eating this with a smile on his face.  I hid the leftovers at one point and when I went to get them, I noticed they had been moved to a new hiding place.  Very sneaky.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 4 (approximately 1 cup)
Total Time: None given

The servings are pretty accurate, so don’t plan on stretching this out for 5 or 6.  It is an entire meal (entrée and side) but I’d start with a nice broth soup (or minestrone) and serve the main meal with crusty bread with olive oil.

I’m surprised that they didn’t give any timing information because it really didn’t take too much time to make.  It’s rare you can do a complete meal in under an hour.

My Timing / Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo:
  • Pasta water to boil: 14 minutes
  • Prep (done while pasta water to boil): 13 minutes
  • Create Sauce: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 33 minutes
Not bad for a pasta dish.  Luckily, I had bought shrimp that I only had to remove the tail, so I was able to get the prep done while the pasta water was coming to a boil.

My Timing / Roasted Asparagus
  • Prep: 2 minutes
  • Assemble Dish: 2 minutes
  • Cooking: 19 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
Don’t be nervous about the amount of time it takes to create this side dish.  The hands-on time for this dish was minimal.  The bulk of the time is for the asparagus to roast.

Total Dish Time: 56 minutes
Reflecting on this dish, I would have started the asparagus first and made the pasta dish while it was roasting.  That probably would have cut a good 20 minutes off of my total recipe time.

What I’m saying is… I lied when I said there wasn’t any room to reduce the time to make this dish.

Nutritional Information / Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo:

  • Calories 442
  • Total Fat 14.3 g
  • Saturated Fat 6.1 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
  • Protein 37.4 g
  • Total Carbohydrate 40 g
  • Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
  • Cholesterol 200 mg
  • Iron 3.2 mg
  • Sodium 565 mg
  • Calcium 256 mg
At first I wasn’t terribly impressed with the nutritional information and then I decided to do a little research on the average calories and fat in this dish.  I stopped at researching the calories because on average it ranged from 800-1200 calories.  Yikes!  So this is around half of what you’d get with a “regular” alfredo recipe.  Not bad at all.

Nutritional Information / Roasted Asparagus:

  • Calories 43
  • Total Fat 2.4 g
  • Saturated Fat 0.4 g
  • Sodium 150 mg
Asparagus packs a lot of punch for minimal calories.  Yeah, it’s got some sodium, but it isn’t all that bad.  As usual, I verified the numbers independently of what was given by Cooking Light.  I had to make some decisions on what products/sizes to use.  For the shrimp fettuccine, I used Buitoni refrigerated fettuccine since that was what I used.  Also, I used medium-sized green onions and parmesan cheese (I couldn’t find any Parmigiano-Reggiano that was pre-grated).  The Nutritional Information for the Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo was:
  • Calories 434.9
  • Total Fat 13.8 g
  • Saturated Fat 5.8 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 4.3 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
  • Protein 37.1 g
  • Total Carbohydrate 38.2 g
  • Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
  • Cholesterol 229.7 mg
  • Sodium 579.6 mg
It was pretty much right on target with what was listed with a slightly higher sodium and cholesterol.  It still was in range of being a healthy meal.  I then ran the asparagus ingredients through the nutritional calculator and got the following:
  • Calories 48.8
  • Total Fat 2.5 g
  • Saturated Fat 0.4 g
  • Sodium 148 mg
Again, it was right on track with what Cooking Light had listed in their nutritional information, so I was confident in this being an overall healthy meal.  I didn’t make any real changes to the dish, but I wanted to see what the total meal was going to be together.  It came out as follows:
  • Calories 483.7
  • Total Fat 16.3 g
  • Saturated Fat 6.1 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 5.9 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5 g
  • Protein 39.8 g
  • Total Carbohydrate 44.8 g
  • Dietary Fiber 5.6 g
  • Cholesterol 229.7 mg
  • Sodium 727.7 mg
Although it is slightly higher in sodium (low-fat products can do that to a recipe) I was confident that it could be a regular recipe in our routine.  Definitely much healthier than a traditional alfredo dish that doesn’t even include a side.

Also, the dish is high in the following:
  • Vitamin C – an antioxidant that is needed by the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels, and which aids in the absorption of iron.
  • Vitamin Dmaintains normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus and aids in the absorption of calcium (healthy and strong bones)
  • Selenium – The body needs selenium for normal growth and health. Selenium is needed for certain enzymes that help with normal body functions.
Changes denoted by red text
You Want Me to Cook?
Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo - ingredients
Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo:
1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fettuccine
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
2 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Fit Wash

You Want Me to Cook?
Roasted Asparagus - ingredients
Roasted Asparagus:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
Lemon wedges

Ingredient Notes:
Shrimp – I found frozen shrimp on sale and it was already pre-peeled & deveined.  The tails were still on, so there was a little prep.

Garlic – I always have pre-minced on hand, so that’s what I used.  It saves some time too.

Parmigiano-Reggiano – This is the top-of-the-line type of Parmesan cheese, but also the most expensive.  I went with a standard blend of Parmesan, but you can also use Romano, Asiago or Monterey Jack.

Fit Wash – I recently read that these washes didn’t do much for cleaning vegetables and fruit, but I always feel like any waxy residue seems to disappear with minimal effort.

Equipment Needed:

You Want Me to Cook?
Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo - equipment
(2) Medium bowls 
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Pasta pot
Wooden spoon
Glass measuring cup
Mixing bowl
Spoon – mixing
Dutch oven / Large skillet
You Want Me to Cook?
Roasted Asparagus - equipment
Large spoon – cooking
Aluminum foil
Jelly-roll pan

Equipment Notes:
Medium bowls – I use one bowl to keep the peeled shrimp and the other one as a “garbage bowl” where I can throw the shells.  It’s a lot easier than trying to prop open the garbage can and figure out where to throw the raw shrimp without putting it on the cabinet.

Scale – Since I bought a two pound bag of frozen shrimp, I needed to accurately measure out the shrimp.  Also, there were a couple of other ingredients that needed to be measured.

Glass measuring cup – I find it a lot easier to dunk a glass measuring cup into the boiling water than to try to measure water into a cup.

Dutch oven – Unless you have an extra large skillet that is VERY deep, you should use a Dutch oven. 

Aluminum Foil – I always use aluminum foil to protect the pan from high temperature cooking and preventing the food from burning to the pan.

Ordinarily I tell you to prep all of your ingredients first, but you want to get the pasta water boiling as soon as possible.

(1)  Make Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo dish:
(a)  Start the water to boil for the pasta.
(b)  Prep the ingredients for the dish.
This is an important step because things happen fast.  You’re going to have to add ingredients quickly to prevent burning and overcooking, so good prep is necessary.  If you’re wondering, that’s why I don’t have any pictures of the cooking process.
(c)  Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
The brand of pasta I used took 6 minutes to cook.  Also, I used a glass measuring cup to scoop out the pasta water I needed to keep.  Much easier (and neater) than trying to pour pasta into a bowl.
(d)  Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
(e)  Combine shrimp, onions, and garlic in a small bowl.
(f)  Add olive oil to the pan; swirl to coat.
(g)  Add shrimp mixture, and sauté for 4 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from pan; keep warm.
(h)  Reduce heat to medium. Add reserved cooking liquid, Parmigiano-Reggiano, half-and-half, cream cheese, and pepper to pan. Cook 4 minutes or until cheeses melt.
It took a little longer (double the time) to get my cheeses to melt all the way.
(i)  Combine pasta, cheese mixture, and shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with parsley.
(2)  Make Roasted Asparagus dish:
(a)  Preheat oven to 450°F.
It may take a while to get your oven to 450°F so make sure you turn it on before getting started with prep.
(b)  Place asparagus on a jelly-roll pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
(c)  Bake at 450° for 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Serve with lemon wedges.

The two dishes went GREAT together!  I didn’t miss the fat AT ALL with this dish.  At first I was concerned about the “lack of sauce” (usually alfredo dishes are swimming in sauce) but what you make covers the pasta and shrimp really well.  The asparagus has a fun kick to it that plays well with the creamy sauce… actually it would work well with ANY creamy sauce.  It was a great alternative to boring steamed or fattening buttery garlic asparagus.

The creamy alfredo sauce and the spicy asparagus were a perfect mixture.  The creamy texture of the pasta paired well with the crisp texture of the asparagus.  In short, it was perfect!

If I were to make any changes, I would:
  • Find a spinach or wheat fresh refrigerated fettuccine.  It would cut down on the carbohydrate numbers and add a little more fiber.
  • I would use red pepper flakes instead of ground red pepper.  I think the cayenne gave it a nice kick, but I would prefer a little chunkier spice in the dish.  (It would make it look prettier too).
  • I would change the order of how I made it.  I would start the asparagus first and then make the pasta while it is roasting.
Happy Cooking!!!

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