While eating in the bar area of a local breakfast joint, I became engrossed in an infomercial for Rocco Dispirito’s book Now Eat This! He was making, from what I could interpret from the poorly written close captioning, a lighter version of Fettuccine Alfredo. While watching and lip-reading Rocco, I deciphered he was using leeks, milk and small amount of cheese to make the Feuxfredo sauce. What was also really cool about this recipe was the fact he used a vegetable peeler to make “ribbons” of asparagus to add to the pasta, giving it an extra boost of nutrition. I had to make it. (By the way, while lip-reading Rocco, he said he loved Kitchen Mischief and reads it often for inspiration. On the other hand, I am horrible at lip-reading.)
During Rocco’s mime performance on TV, I figured the basic ingredients I needed but not the amounts. I had the Ray perform Google magic and find the recipe. I was 99% right on my lip-reading of his ingredient list. Let’s try this shall we?
2 cups sliced leeks
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
3 ozs of Parmesan Reggiano, grated
1 lb of asparagus
8 ozs of whole wheat fettuccine pasta
1 pat of butter
Salt and FRESH cracked pepper
Rocco’s recipe seemed a little bland to me, so in Kitchen Mischief fashion I used a few tricks to make the taste even better.
I started by slowly sautéing the leeks in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the pat of butter over medium heat. The goal is not to brown but to get the leeks really soft about 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
While the leeks cook, take your washed asparagus and using a vegetable peeler, shave off thin slices – keep the tips! Put the ribbons and tips to the side.
Once the leeks are soft, combine the leeks and cup of milk in a microwave-safe dish and zap it on high for 4 minutes. We want them really soft. In the meantime, start your pasta water. Beep, Beep, Beep – your leeks should be done. Combine the mixture in a blender with 1/3 of the cheese. Start out on the slowest speed and make your way higher until as smooth as possible.
Cook your pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, add the leek mixture to a non-stick pan over medium heat. Taste for salt and pepper. Bring to simmer until slightly thickened.
When the timer goes off for the pasta, add the asparagus ribbons and tips to the pasta water for 30 seconds. When the pasta and asparagus are done, drain and add to the leek mixture. Add the remaining cheese, mix to combine.
You may have noticed I took the liberty of adding some extras to the pasta. I added a 1/2 cup of frozen sweet peas (thawed them by running hot water over them), some crispy prosciutto and a little parsley.
You may be asking, “Is this as good as the real thing?” I would say, “Are you crazy? No.” But I will say that it was really, really good. I would make this light version again. It was comforting, not hard to a make and had great flavor. It makes me think what other options are out there to make high calorie meals into something lighter and just as tasty. Sounds like some mischief waiting to happen! ;-)