Who says you can’t whip up a delectable gourmet dinner for yourself? A solo supper can be so much more than cold leftover rotisserie chicken or a trip to the drive-through. I often crave pasta and cheese in all its glorious forms, but when I want to enjoy it with less guilt, I opt for lightening up a few of the usual ingredients, like using low-fat milk and stock instead of heavy cream or cream cheese, and reducing the amount of butter with olive oil. Trust me, this lighter version leaves nothing to be desired.
“Skinny” Mushroom Alfredo for One
Time: 30 minutes
What You’ll Need:
- 2-3 ounces of your favorite pasta (I used whole-wheat spaghetti in this recipe)
- Two handfuls of your favorite mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini, aka “baby bella” and shiitaki mushrooms, prewashed and sliced to save time)
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of low-fat milk
- 1/3 cup of pasta water
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
What to Do:
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Be sure to set aside the 1/3 cup of pasta water before draining.
- Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and stir until the butter is just melted.
- Add the sliced mushrooms. Try your best to spread out the mushrooms into an even layer in the skillet so that they are all making contact with the surface. Don’t disturb the mushrooms for at least 2 minutes so that they can brown–this is an important step for getting that beautiful brown crispy sear. Mushrooms tend to shrink to about half their size when they’re at perfect doneness, so just be watchful—you can always taste-test one to check if they’re cooked!
- Remove the mushrooms from the skillet onto a plate. Sprinkle with salt, and set aside for later.
- In the same skillet, make the roux. (You want to use the same skillet so you can capture all those beautiful mushroom bits on the bottom. That’s flavor!)
- First, lower the heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and stir until the butter is just melted.
- Add the flour.
- Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is combined and slightly puffy or foamy.
- Add the garlic to the roux and stir for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the milk and pasta water while whisking to combine.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer for a few minutes until it looks thick and well combined, stirring constantly.
- Add the grated Parmesan cheese, just a pinch of salt to taste (remember, Parm is already salty), and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Add the cooked pasta, half of the fresh parsley, and the cooked mushrooms to the skillet and toss to combine thoroughly.
- Serve hot topped with the rest of the fresh parsley and more grated Parmesan.
- If you bought fresh mushrooms that need to be cleaned, here’s how to store and prep them*:
- Only clean the mushrooms that you intend to cook at a given time, and then store the rest unwashed in its original container or in a paper bag in the fridge. If mushrooms have any moisture on them when they go into the fridge, they will rot super quickly. Likewise, don’t store mushrooms in a plastic bag—they need to breathe!
- Use a damp paper towel to wipe any visible dirt off the caps
- Remove the stems by twisting them off at the base. I usually remove the stems because they tend to be woody and fibrous, and they cook at a slightly different rate than the caps. I’ve seen many recipes in which you can make a stuffing out of finely diced mushroom stems—looks delicious but not recommended for this recipe!
- Do NOT rinse mushrooms under running water. Mushrooms are like sponges, and they will absorb water. Water-logged mushrooms have a difficult time browning, and they’re likely to cook up like tough gummy bears. Don’t do it!
- For this recipe, I recommend slicing whole mushrooms vertically, rather than in halves or quarters. Thin slices make even contact with the skillet, which makes for much better browning and crispness all over.
- Cleaning mushrooms the right way takes time—which is why I almost always spend the extra money to buy prewashed kind at the store.
- Don’t skip the step of making the roux! A roux is equal parts fat, like butter or olive oil, and flour that is used as the thickening base for many sauces. It adds flavor and heartiness to help your sauce come together.
*Note: These tips apply to most varieties of mushrooms, with the exception of morels. They have their own rules!!