This pantry-friendly recipe calls for butter, umami-blessed cheese and creamy dairy, but not so much of each. A tumble of fresh, finely chopped herbs gives the dish its essence even as it lightens the overall effect. Sauteed garlic and the starchy cohort of pasta cooking water complete just enough of a sauce to coat a slightly thicker noodle like fettuccine.
All the good stuff, for under 500 calories per serving.
Creamy Fettuccine With Garlic and Herbs
6 ounces fettuccine
One (1-ounce) block Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Leaves from 6 stems parsley
About 12 basil leaves
Leaves from 2 stems thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic
¼ cup half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional; may substitute small pinch freshly grated nutmeg)
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a few generous pinches of salt, then the pasta; cook according to the package directions until al dente.
Meanwhile, grate the cheese. Finely chop the parsley, basil and thyme.
Melt the butter in a deep skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Mince the garlic and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and just softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and the cardamom, if using. Reduce the heat to medium-low; gradually add half the grated cheese, stirring until it has melted.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of its cooking water.
Add the pasta and chopped herbs to the pan; toss long enough to coat the fettuccine and distribute the herbs evenly. Return the pan to the stove and cook over medium-low heat, for about 1 minute. Add enough of the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce, and cook until creamy and warmed through, about 30 seconds.
Season generously with pepper, top with the remaining cheese and serve.
Nutrition information: Calories: 470; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 40 mg; Sodium: 360 mg; Carbohydrates: 64 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 17 g.
Adapted from “Skinny Pasta” by Julia Azzarello. Kyle Books, 2018.