Quick and easy weeknight alfredo with no heavy cream!
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 Tbsp. light cream cheese
- 1.5 cups parmesan cheese
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the penne in very salty water until al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a separate large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant and cooked through, about 2 minutes.
- Add flour to butter and whisk to combine and form a roux. Let roux cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add milk a little at a time, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Milk will thicken up quickly at the beginning, but as you whisk the rest of the milk in it will loosen the sauce.
- Cook sauce, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 6 minutes.
- Add cream cheese and whisk until cheese has melted.
- Remove sauce from heat and stir in parmesan cheese, shredded chicken, and spinach into sauce. Stir until cheese has melted.
- Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as necessary.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir until the sauce evenly coats the noodles. Serve immediately.
You can decrease the amount of butter and flour here to 2 Tbsp. each if you want to lighten this recipe up even more, but you’ll need to cook the sauce longer so it still has a chance to thicken properly.
Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta – if your sauce is too thick when you go to stir in the pasta, you can thin it out by adding some of the pasta water to the sauce.
Sauce too thin? Let it cook for several minutes more to thicken up. Too thick? Thin it out by stirring in a splash of pasta water or milk.
Substitute shrimp, salmon, or sausage for the chicken, or leave out the protein to make this vegetarian.
Use arugula or kale in place of spinach if you like.
Add your favorite veggies to this sauce to make it a little heartier! I like to add peas, broccoli, arugula, tomatoes, bell peppers, or even extra spinach.
For best results (and easy cleanup!) cook this sauce in a sturdy, nonstick pot (I love this one from Anolon!).
Serve with my Easy Crusty French Bread!