Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reduced Fat Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Shrimp and Broccoli

To get a copy of this recipe, just click HERE.

Some variations exist, but most sources agree that Fettuccine Alfredo was invented by Alfredo De Lelio,  owner of Ristorante Alfredo alla Scrofa in Rome, around 1914. With his wife experiencing a difficult pregnancy, De Lelio was trying to put together a dish she could keep down. Eventually he tried a very rich combination of butter, cheese and pasta that Mrs. De Lelio not only held down, but also loved so much that it was quickly added to the menu at his restaurant. (The part I’m not sure whether or not to believe came next, when the honeymooning Hollywood power couple Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, the Brad and Angelina of their day, supposedly went to Alfredo’s restaurant and had the dish, which at the time he called “Fettuccine al Triplo Burro” (triple-butter fettuccine). The resultant news coverage became instrumental in the dish crossing the ocean to America, and a new culinary star was born.

And what a delicious dish it is! The catch, of course, is the high fat content of traditional Fettuccine Alfredo. Since having to start cutting back on fatty foods several years ago (resulting in my own interest in low-fat cooking), it has been the meal I’ve missed most.  I finally decided to do something about it. Ladies and gentlemen, for your nearly guilt-free dining pleasure, I give you: Reduced Fat Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Shrimp and Broccoli.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Begin preheating the oven to 150 degrees. When it has reached temperature, place four dishes inside to become warm while you prepare the food.

First, let’s brine our shrimp.

Place one pound of uncooked shrimp, ½ cup of kosher salt, and the juice of ½ lemon in a bowl with 2 quarts of water and let brine for 30 minutes.
  • The amount of water is important; if you use more or less, increase or decrease the salt and lemon proportionately.
  • Although other proteins – chickens, for example – are brined for several hours, avoid brining the shrimp for longer than 30 minutes. It's just how shrimp are.
Next, the broccoli.

While the shrimp are brining, cook a 10 ounce package of frozen chopped broccoli as per the directions on the package, and set aside.

Now it's time to get our pasta going.

Begin boiling a large pot of salted pasta water. (I like to use about a tablespoon of kosher salt per quart of water. You can use more or less to your own taste.) When it comes to a boil, begin cooking a 12 – 14 ounce box of fettuccine as per the “al dente” directions on the package.

Very important: after the pasta has finished cooking, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. We'll use this in the sauce.

To make the sauce:

Put ½ tablespoon of butter substitute and ½ tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet over a low heat until the butter substitute has melted.

Add 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour and cook for one minute, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to form a roux. When ready, the roux should be a light golden brown color. Add ½ tsp of kosher salt, 1 minced clove of garlic, the juice of one half lemon, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Add 1-1/4 cups of fat-free half-and-half, a splash at a time, whisking constantly; wait until each splash is completely incorporated before adding the next to prevent the half-and-half from separating.

Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan and 1 tablespoon of dried parsley, and whisk for about a minute until the cheese has melted.

Whisk in 1/3 cup of pasta water. Add additional pasta water, up to another 2/3 cup, to get the desired thickness. Add salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste.

Time for the shrimp!

Drain and dry the shrimp, toss lightly with a little olive oil.

Cook the shrimp on a grille pan until done. (There’s no need to season them, since they're already brined.)

Now let's put it all together!

Combine the shrimp, broccoli and sauce. Add the sauce and mix till well combined. Divide the pasta between four warmed plates and top with a little extra grated parmesan.

Serve with some garlic bread on the side (pictured at top), and/or a nice salad, and you’ve got a lovely (and guilt-free!) dinner indeed!

If you like what you see, we hope that you'll download a copy of the recipe by clicking HERE. And that you'll be sure to tell some friends!     

Thanks for visiting! Hope to see you next week for another tasty recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. You are making me hungry!!! And you know my feelings on that...

    1. That is what is good about this alfredo, Sandy. It has broccoli, so it must be good for us!

  2. I've never heard of brining shrimp! Does it add flavor or make it tender? Can't Waite to try this with gf flour and pasta, Ben. I do love Alfredo!

    1. Thank you, Linda! Brining shrimp is not something you will see in a lot of recipes, since shrimp can be delicious and tender even without it, but I love the little bit of lemony salt flavor the shrimp get infused with. (As long as you the shrimp are being cooked on a grille or skillet; if you are boiling the shrimp, of course, brining would not have much of an effect.) The key is to keep the brining to 20-30 minutes, much less than for something like chicken.

    We are the grandchildren of Alfredo Di Lelio (Alfredo and Ines Di Lelio). The story is this. Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in Rome nel 1914, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina Rose Square (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Deaf). In this local fame spread, first to Rome and then in the world of “fettuccine all’Alfredo”. In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio gave the local to his collaborators.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando (Alfredo II) his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo”, which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo (same name of grandfather) and Ines (the same name of his grandmother, wife of Alfredo Di Lelio, who were dedicated to the noodles).
    In conclusion, the local Piazza Augusto Imperatore is following the family tradition of Alfredo Di Lelio and his notes noodles (see also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo”
    Best regards Alfredo e Ines Di Lelio

    1. I am humbled and gratified at receiving your comment, Ines. You have my sincere thanks for your wonderful insights into this great dish’s history, and for your continued efforts to preserve your grandfather’s culinary legacy. I hope we will have the pleasure of seeing you here again!