Flexitarian Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is unquestionably one of the most-ordered dishes in restaurants, and it’s no surprise. I mean who doesn’t love a thick, creamy sauce made from cheese? Add pasta and you’ve got a winner-winner for all ages. But, what about all the vegans out there? Or for that matter, what about all the people trying to eat healthy? Can they enjoy pasta with an Alfredo sauce without demolishing their health?

Traditional fettuccine alfredo is basically a heart attack on a plate.

Google the calories in a traditional fettuccine Alfredo dish and you’ll get a wide range of numbers, none of them good unless you’re disciplined enough to stop at 2-3 ounces. As if. I mean that’s like saying you’ll only have one potato chip. (Or one martini, as the case may be.) But, the good news is—and by good news I mean like jump up and down hooray kind of good news—is you can enjoy fettuccine Alfredo without sabotaging your health. But before I get to that part, let’s talk about the “Alfredo” part, the man that is.

Alfredo Di Lelio loved his wife

Or at least I’m assuming he did because in 1914, after she’d given birth to their son, she found herself without an appetite … so you know what Alredo did? He made a big ol’ plate of fettuccine and tossed it with butter and Parmigiano and just like magic, his wife’s appetite was back. What a guy, huh?!

Now for the part you really want to know: how to make fettuccine Alfredo that won’t cause your arteries to clog. If you look for recipes titled “healthy Alfredo” or “vegan Alfredo” you’ll find a number of different options for making the sauce: There are some that use vegan “parmesan”(to keep it dairy-free) made from cashews—which, for the record, is pretty damn good as a topping but not really suited for making sauces; some use arrowroot (to keep it gluten-free), or cornstarch or flour to thicken the sauce; some use nutritional yeast to add bulk to the sauce; and some rely on plant-based milks or “cream” to create a smooth sauce; and some use fat-free dairy half and half. But, in reality, the key to making uber creamy alfrado sauce is the water the pasta is cooked in and one egg yolk.

I know. I know. Skeptics everywhere … but I’m telling you, it works. And according to some Italians out there, it’s a more traditional method than using cream as the sauce is really meant to be an emulsion of the starchy water, butter and cheese. A note about the pasta … while you can try using gluten-free pasta, I don’t recommend it. You need the starch in the water and plant-based pastas don’t deliver—however, if you do want to use gluten-free pasta, use one made from corn or rice and just don’t use too much water when cooking. So there you go. Give it a whirl. It’s easy and it’s delicious.

Flexitarian Fettuccine Alfredo 

PREP TIME: 10 minutes | COOK TIME: 25 minutes

  • 1 box (16 ounces) pasta (if gluten free try Banza, Explore Cuisine, or Jovial)
  • 1/2 stick plant-based butter, I use Miyoko’s
  • 1/2 cup plant-based cream
  • 1 cup parmesan, try Follow Your Heart parmesan (or use the real stuff which I did for mine)
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly grated pepper
  • OPTIONAL: add sauteed mushrooms, fresh (or frozen) peas, broccoli or just about anything else you want.

Bring water to boil in a large stock pot, add 1 tsp salt and cook pasta as directed. NOTE, and this is very important, do not over cook the pasta. Once it’s al dente, drain pasta into a colander but save the water into another container. In another pan, melt butter, add pasta water, milk, parmesan and the egg yolk. Slowly whisk together until the cheese melts. Add pasta, toss and serve. That’s it. Enjoy!

One Comment

  1. Ines Di Lelio


    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo Di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1948 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See the website of “Il Vero Alfredo”.
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    The brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma” is present in Mexico with a restaurant in Mexico City and a trattoria in Cozumel on the basis of franchising relationships with the Group Hotel Presidente Intercontinental Mexico.
    The restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” is in the Registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence – section on Historical Activities of Excellence” of the Municipality of Roma Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio


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