Sometimes a person just needs pasta and cream sauce. The good stuff.
My personal favourite is spinach fettuccine and there is no better topping than a luscious, creamy alfredo. If I’m going to do it, though, it’s going to be done right, and that means it takes some time. Thankfully, this recipe makes enough pasta for 4 meals for two people, so all that work feels justified when I’m pulling perfect, fabulous pasta from the freezer for a quick weeknight meal down the road.
Spinach and Pesto Fettuccine:
- 10 oz bag of fresh baby spinach
- 2 Tbsp basil pesto
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- copious sprinkles of freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups of white flour with some extra for rolling out the pasta later
Let’s start with the spinach. Choose baby spinach because it is less bitter. A 10 oz bag of baby spinach overflows a large salad bowl.
Time to cut it down to size. This is the perfect time to practice those chiffonade skills. 🙂
Gather several spinach leaves in a group.
Now roll the leaves tightly to make a cigar-shape.
Thinly slice across the roll to create thin ribbons of spinach.
When you are done, the volume will be reduced to roughly half.
Now it’s time for a spinach sauna. Fill a large dutch oven 1/4 full of water and bring it to a boil. Put a strainer full of spinach ribbons over the water and place the dutch oven’s lid on top so that the spinach is steamed from both sides. Each batch will take about 7 minutes. Once the spinach is steamed, the liquid must be as fully drained as possible, so I place a coffee filter in a basket strainer over the sink and let the spinach drain further while I am steaming the next batch.
Once the coffee filter is full of spinach, I pull the full filter out of the strainer and squeeze it to force more liquid out.
The drained, steamed spinach needs somewhere to moisturize after the sauna and what better place than a bowl containing freshly cracked black pepper, lemon juice and basil pesto?
Once the spinach is all steamed and drained, add it to the pesto mixture.
Now crack two eggs into the bowl and mix it through well. Blend the mixture so that you have a homogenous green sludge. The smell is phenomenal already!
In a large bowl, add 2 cups of white flour and make a well in the middle with your hands.
Pour the spinach mixture into the well.
Mix the flour and spinach together to form a dough (this includes at least 10 minutes of kneading it with your hands – it likes lots of loving) and then divide the dough into 8 balls.
Cover the dough balls to keep them from drying out. Let them rest for 10 minutes to allow the gluten in the flour to work on the dough. On a clean work surface, sprinkle some additional flour and then, one at a time, roll the dough out as paper-thin as you can.
Dust off any excess flour and move the dough to another clean surface. Using a sharp paring knife (non-serrated), cut the dough into 1/4″ wide strips of fettuccine.
Roll all of the fettuccine strips from one doughball into a birdsnest and set it on a sheet of waxed paper to dry. When you are done all 8 balls, it will look like this:
Leave the birdsnests out overnight to dry. I actually put them in my microwave because it was the safest place I could think of since my microwave doesn’t work and no one would be tempted to touch them there!
The next day, some of the flour will have been absorbed while the pasta has been drying. Flip them over to dry for a few more hours.
Once I am ready to cook two of the birdsnests, I put the others in freezer bags and send them to the deep freezer for future meals. To cook them, fill a dutch oven with water about halfway and bring it to a boil. Insert the fettuccine and when it floats to the top of the water, it is ready to eat.
One birdsnest is a dieter’s dream come true:
- Calories: 133
- Fat: 2.6 g
- Carbs: 22.8 g
- Protein: 5.8 g
It isn’t complete though without Chicken and Bacon Cheesy Alfredo Sauce:
- 7 oz cooked chicken breast (boneless and skinless)
- 1 Tbsp cooked bacon crumbles
- 6 roughly chopped garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp white flour
Fair warning: this sauce doesn’t skimp on flavour OR calories. It is worth it though – do try it!
Melt the butter in a frying pan.
Add the garlic and let it start to caramelize in the butter.
Now add the bacon.
Sprinkle the flour evenly in the frying pan and stir. Add the milk and stir to make sure there are no flour clumps. Once the mixture starts to bubble, add the cheese and stir it in as it melts. Add the chicken.
The sauce will slowly thicken and caramelize. When it looks like this, it is done:
Pour the sauce over the pasta and voila – the perfect pasta meal for me!
Half of the sauce is one serving.
Nutrition (per serving):
- Calories: 434
- Fat: 13.3 g
- Carbs: 15.3 g
- Protein: 10.1 g