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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Invite an Italian To Dinner

This Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo came about at work one day, when Chef Nancy and I were up to our elbows in food prep for a Thanksgiving meal for the participants at Cancer Wellness last fall.  Now, you may ask, who in their right mind would stop in the middle of such a large production to sit down and eat lunch, much less a big bowl of pasta.  Well, we would.  As I have mentioned before, we always try to take a few minutes to sit down and take a break for a midday meal.  Usually it's a salad, made from whatever we have leftover in the kitchen.  This day however, there was not a leaf of lettuce to be found, as we scrambled in true Iron Chef fashion to grab whatever spare ingredients we could find, and put together a quick meal.

What I came up with was a jar of roasted piquillo peppers, a log of goat cheese, a block of parm and some whole wheat elbow macaroni.  Perfect, a little pasta would power us through the long afternoon and evening ahead.  The result of my kitchen scavenger hunt yielded a beautiful and comforting Alfredo sauce, that is much lower in fat and calories than the original.  This dish has since, become a staple at home, and is a quick and easy weeknight treat. 

Try inviting this light and saucy Italian to your house for dinner tonight.  Remember to make every plate something to be passionate about.  Buon appetito!

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo:

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive-oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 roasted red peppers or a 12oz jar of piquillo peppers, coarsely chopped
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 cup of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 lb of your favorite pasta, cooked to package directions

Optional Garnishes: Parsley, Chives, Basil, chopped roasted red pepper.  A combination of any or all of these is great.

Beautiful ingredients in all the colors of the Italian flag

 Step One:  Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, but not browned, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, and additional minute.  Lower heat to medium and add the peppers, milk, yogurt and both cheeses.  Stir to combine while cheeses melt.
Onions and garlic softening in the olive oil

The peppers make the sauce.  Try roasting your own for a more intense flavor than the jarred peppers

Ahhhh.....melting cheese.  Heaven!

Step Two:  Once cheese is melted, blend mixture with an immersion blender, or allow sauce to cool slightly and transfer to a traditional blender to mix up the sauce.
Sauce is ready for the "boat motor", a.k.a. the immersion blender

The immersion  blender is a great tool for making soups and sauces

This is enough sauce for one pound of pasta.  Feel free to add a drizzle of additional olive oil or s splash of the hot pasta water if the sauce appears too thick.
Pour a glass of wine and sit down with your family to enjoy!

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