Guilt-free Pumpkin Alfredo

16 Oct

I have been meaning to make a pumpkin alfredo type dish for a while now.  After pumpkin doughnuts and pumpkin pie bars, it’s about time I posted a savory dish involving pumpkin, right?

Mmm, this pasta is so creamy and rich.  It leaves you satisfied without that heavy feeling that comes after eating Paula Deen style comfort food.  With all the lovely flavors here, you won’t even know you’re eating a lighter version.

Asparagus, broccoli, or any other green veggie you’ve got would be just fine.  Chunks of roasted sweet potato or orange squash would be good here too, now that I think about it…and chicken if you want some meat!

This version ended up being vegetarian with mushrooms and peas because, well, those are veggies I love but the boyfriend is less fond of.  And this one was just for me, since there was still chicken tortilla soup for him to eat =]

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This is actually a really simple dish to put together.  I perfected the basic process in a dorm kitchen, including dirtying the least amount of dishes.

First cook your pasta.  In a saucepan?  Wait for water to boil?  No way.  We’re going microwave on this one (what?  I was too hungry to wait for water to boil).

You need a wide dish with high sides that your pasta will fit into as a single layer.  Pour it in dry, and cover with a centimeter or two of water.  6 minutes in the microwave is perfect, but keep an eye on it the first few times.  You don’t want to overcook or undercook, and the pasta will bubble up, so if the sides of your dish aren’t tall enough you will have a mess in your microwave.

I cook in a 25 oz Glad tupperware dish, which I believe is the entree size.  It’s about 6x6x2 inches.  Wipe it out and store any leftovers in the same dish.

Meanwhile, assemble the rest of the ingredients and get a pan heating over medium heat with a drizzle of oil.

Cook the onion with garlic powder until soft and translucent, then add mushrooms (don’t overcrowd the pan…the mushrooms will release a bit of water, and you want them to sautee, not steam).  Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper!

Once the mushrooms are cooked, add your peas.  I just poured mine right in from frozen.  This will cool your pan down, so let them cook for a few minutes longer to warm up.  Taste and season with salt again here!

Veggies done!  Remove them from pan (into the same bowl you will eventually eat out of, of course…saving dishes here)

Turn down your heat to low, then pour in a ¼ cup of milk (I used skim), and your cheese wedges.

I used light, swiss cheese flavored Laughing Cow cheese.  These are 35 calories a wedge, and totally delicious.  I smear them on sandwiches, apples, mix them in with eggs…they’re great.  There’s also a bunch of flavors to choose from.  They’re a bit on the pricey side though, so I usually only buy some when they’re on sale.  Oh…and find them in the deli section with the fancy cheese, not with like the yogurt and generic shredded cheeses.  Unpaid advertisement over.

For being so creamy, I was expecting these to melt better.  It took a bit of stirring and crushing, but eventually they sauce-ify.  I also added about a ¼ cup more milk to thin the sauce out, but it’s up to your preference.

Once the cheese is mostly melted, stir in your pumpkin, pepper, and sage.

I don’t use sage often, but I really like it.  It has a warm flavor like less potent, slightly spicy oregano.  Delicious.

Then just stir in your pasta, and veg.  Cut the heat, stir for a few more minutes, and you’re ready to eat!  Definitely taste for seasonings…I added a touch more salt at the end.

This is so good…and not just because I was starving when I made it.  I’m not sure the pumpkin flavor comes through as much as I had hoped, but I love the orange color (and the nutrients!)…it feels like eating a full-fat cheddar packed macaroni and cheese dish.  The mushrooms are meaty and tender, and the peas add a nice sweet pop!  The sage and pepper give a nice warm heat and extra flavor, and really bring home that taste of fall.  Amazinggg.  (Also makes good leftovers =] )

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Light Pumpkin Alfredo
Serves 2

4 oz pasta (that’s ½ cup of any small pasta…I used ditalini)
¼ cup diced onion (or ½ tsp of onion powder)
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ cup sliced mushrooms, rinsed and dried (fresh, not from a can)
½ cup frozen peas (or fresh or drained from a can)
3 wedges of Light Laughing Cow Cheese (I used Swiss)
¼ – ½ cup milk (I used skim)
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ – ½ tsp dried sage
¼ tsp pepper
Salt

  • Cook your pasta according to package directions (or in the microwave as mentionned above)
  • While the pasta cooks, sautee your onion with garlic powder and a pinch of salt over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent.  Push onion to one side of the pan, add another drizzle of oil and sautee mushrooms (try not to overcrowd the pan) until tender with another pinch of salt(3-4 minutes)
  • Once mushrooms and onions are cooked, reduce heat to low, and stir in peas.  Cook until peas are warm (about a minute)
  • Remove veggies from pan and set aside
  • On low heat, add milk to sautee pan, then cheese wedges.  Stir frequently and press the wedges down with your spatula…eventually they will melt
  • Once cheese has mostly melted, add in pumpkin purree, sage, and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  • Stir pasta and cooked veggies back into the sauce. Stir for a minute to combine and allow the pasta to absorb the sauce, taste for seasonings (may need more salt, pepper or sage to taste), then serve!
  • Keeps well in the fridge for a few days if you have any leftovers

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One Response to “Guilt-free Pumpkin Alfredo”

  1. Smokey October 19, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Thanks for the quick and easy dinner!

    (I don’t know if images work here)

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