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Chicken Alfredo Recipe with Spinach

Fettuccine Alfredo made with cream is classic American comfort food. This version is plenty rich enough to honor tradition. It’s also balanced with extra garlic, bright lemon juice, lean protein and a generous dose of fresh spinach. All that, and it’s ready in 20 minutes.

Tip

Adding a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water to the sauce, and then simmering the pasta in the sauce for a moment, may be the most Italian aspect of this recipe. It helps to create a silky, unified dish.

Yesterday morning before Celia left for school, I asked if she might want something special for dinner. She said, “Chicken. And pasta.” I mean, good call, kid. All day I let my brain background-process that set of requirements, and apparently it took me to 1986, when I was 10 and growing like a weed and only ever wanted Fettuccine Alfredo.

The Sordid History of Fettuccine Alfredo

I love that the history of Italian-American dishes is often slightly sordid, and Fettuccine Alfredo is no exception. Technically this dish has roots in Italy, but the fettuccine burro e parmigiano, or pasta in bianco, created by Alfredo di Lelio in Rome in 1914 for his pregnant wife had little to do with the cream-based recipe that Americans call Alfredo sauce.

That dish is basically just cheesy buttered noodles, except since Italians do food so damned well, even their cheesy buttered noodles for nauseated pregnant women are blanketed in a light, beautifully emulsified sauce made by whisking some pasta cooking water into the other ingredients.

A Just-Right Alfredo Sauce Recipe

The Alfredo sauce recipe we created for this Chicken Alfredo is definitely cream-based in the American tradition, and it’s definitely rich. But it’s a little more sophisticated, too.

The sauce is enriched with an egg yolk, dressed up in velvet with a bit of pasta cooking water, made more flavorful with a generous amount of garlic, and brightened just enough with lemon juice. You can use Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, and don’t forget plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Hope you love it.

Chicken Alfredo Recipe with Spinach

Fettuccine Alfredo made with cream is classic American comfort food. This version is plenty rich enough to honor tradition. It’s also balanced with extra garlic, bright lemon juice, lean protein and a generous dose of fresh spinach. All that, and it’s ready in 20 minutes.
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Serves Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Fill a large pot halfway with very well salted water and bring to a boil. 
  2. Whisk together the cream and egg yolk and set aside.
  3. In a deep 12-inch frying pan, melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Cut chicken tenders into bite-sized pieces. (Protip: try using kitchen shears to avoid dirtying a cutting board.) Place chicken into pan in a single layer and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned on the underside and opaque halfway through, about three minutes. Flip once and cook until just cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  4. When water boils, cook fettuccine until al dente according to package directions. Before draining pasta, scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside. 
  5. Meanwhile, melt remaining tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat in the same pan. Add garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Pour in cream mixture. Simmer gently, adjusting heat if necessary to prevent boiling, while pasta cooks. When pasta is ready, stir lemon juice and cheese into sauce until smooth and creamy. Whisk in reserved pasta water until smooth. Add spinach and pasta, raise heat to medium, and toss with tongs for a couple of minutes until spinach is wilted and sauce clings nicely to pasta. Stir in chicken along with any accumulated juices. Off the heat, season with freshly ground black pepper (and salt if you like). 
  6. Divide among four shallow bowls and serve immediately. 

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 613 Total Fat:: 32.7g Carbohydrates:: 46.9g Fiber:: 2.5g Protein:: 32.5g

    Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

    Prep Time 40 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 55 minutes
    Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

    Directions

    Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

    Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

    Preheat the oven to 450°F.

    1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

    3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

    4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

    5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

    6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

    7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

    Notes

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    Inflammation-busting Green Smoothie

    This vibrant green smoothie is sweet, tangy, and totally inflammation-busting. We love it not only because it makes you feel great, but because it's refreshing to drink. You might also like our Gateway Green Smoothie, designed for beginners.

    Tip

    Leafy greens, ginger, and turmeric combine to kick your inflammation to the curb, while banana and mango round out the flavor of this tasty smoothie. Use spinach for the mildest flavor, arugula for the strongest.

    Inflammation-Busting Green Smoothie

    This green glass of gorgeous is a real inflammation buster, with fresh turmeric and ginger and lots of leafy greens. It also tastes great, I promise.
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 5 minutes
    Serves 1

    Ingredients

    • 1 frozen banana
    • 1/2 cup frozen mango
    • Big handful baby greens (spinach, arugula, kale, chard or any combo)
    • Small piece fresh turmeric (or use ground)
    • Small piece fresh ginger
    • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
    • 1/2 cup cold water

    Directions

    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until perfectly smooth.
    2. Serve immediately.

    Nutrition Information

    Amount Per Serving:

    Calories:: 213 Total Fat:: 3.9g Carbohydrates:: 45.5g Fiber:: 7.8g Protein:: 4.5g

      Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

      Prep Time 40 minutes
      Cook Time 15 minutes
      Total Time 55 minutes
      Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

      Ingredients

      • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
      • Freshly ground black pepper
      • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
      • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

      Directions

      Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

      Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

      Preheat the oven to 450°F.

      1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

      2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

      3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

      4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

      5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

      6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

      7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

      Notes

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      Raspberry Meyer Lemon Smoothie

      I go through phases where I don't want anything but this tangy, delicious, and creamy raspberry Meyer lemon smoothie for breakfast. We like to use fat-free, protein-rich Icelandic-style skyr. Greek yogurt is also a great choice.

      Tip

      Skyr or Greek yogurt and creaminess and protein to this tangy smoothie. You can choose your own fat level — it will taste great however you roll.

      Raspberry Meyer Lemon Smoothie

      I’ve been crushing on this raspberry, Meyer lemon and Skyr/ Greek yogurt smoothie many, many mornings during the past month, since I’ve been looking for a little extra protein and haven’t been feelin’ the chalky vibe of vegan pea protein powder.
      Prep Time 5 minutes
      Total Time 5 minutes
      Serves 1

      Ingredients

      Directions

      1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until perfectly smooth.
      2. Serve immediately.

      Notes

      If you'd like to make this smoothie vegan, simply use nondairy yogurt.

      Nutrition Information

      Amount Per Serving:

      Calories:: 221 Total Fat:: 4.3g Carbohydrates:: 33.5g Fiber:: 11.6g Protein:: 16g

        Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

        Prep Time 40 minutes
        Cook Time 15 minutes
        Total Time 55 minutes
        Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

        Ingredients

        • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
        • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
        • Freshly ground black pepper
        • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
        • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

        Directions

        Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

        Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

        Preheat the oven to 450°F.

        1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

        2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

        3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

        4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

        5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

        6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

        7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

        Notes

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        Fried Eggs with Creamed Spinach and Toast Soldiers

        This satisfying meal of fried eggs with creamy spinach and toast soldiers makes an equally good breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Easily scale it down or up to suit your crowd. Once upon a transitional time, it made us feel at home in all the right ways in our Seville Airbnb after a sketchy stint in Malaga, and I'll always remember it fondly.

        Tip

        With just a few ingredients, it pays to use the best eggs, vegetables, and dairy products you can find.

        Fried Eggs with Creamed Spinach and Toast Soldiers

        This satisfying meal of fried eggs with creamy spinach and toast soldiers makes an equally good breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Easily scale it down or up to suit your crowd.
        Prep Time 10 minutes
        Cook Time 10 minutes
        Total Time 20 minutes
        Serves 4

        Ingredients

        • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
        • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
        • 2 garlic cloves, minced
        • 10 ounces baby spinach
        • Pinch of ground nutmeg
        • Pinch of cayenne pepper flakes
        • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
        • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
        • Plenty salt and pepper, to taste
        • 4 eggs
        • 2 slices multigrain toast

        Directions

        1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick or well-seasoned frying pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
        2. Add the spinach, in batches if necessary, and cook until wilted. If there's a lot of liquid in the pan at this stage, you may wish to pour it off. (Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't -- depends on the spinach.)
        3. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, heavy cream, cream cheese, and some salt and pepper. Stir to combine well. Simmer until the sauce is reduced enough to mostly cling to the spinach. Taste for salt and pepper and divide between two shallow bowls.
        4. Wipe out the frying pan. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the eggs in the pan to your liking, and slide two eggs into each bowl. Cut the toast into strips ("soldiers," as the English call them) for dipping into the yolk and cream, and garnish each bowl with a few. Serve immediately.

        Nutrition Information

        Amount Per Serving:

        Calories:: 354 Total Fat:: 21.1g Carbohydrates:: 31.2g Fiber:: 5.5g Protein:: 13.3g

          Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

          Prep Time 40 minutes
          Cook Time 15 minutes
          Total Time 55 minutes
          Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

          Ingredients

          • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
          • 2 tablespoons olive oil
          • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
          • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
          • Freshly ground black pepper
          • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
          • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

          Directions

          Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

          Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

          Preheat the oven to 450°F.

          1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

          2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

          3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

          4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

          5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

          6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

          7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

          Notes

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          Brown Rice Lentil Salad Recipe

          Apparently I first developed this brown rice lentil salad recipe for something called the four day diet? That's the thing about having blogged for over a decade — all the fun, ill-advised shit you do is preserved for posterity though your own eloquent writing. Anyhoo, the salad is delicious, and it's a great vegan dish for a party or for a week's worth of lunches. So.

          Tip

          Basmati rice is just as easy to cook as regular rice, but its flavor and aroma are really extra-special. Same goes for Puy lentils.

          Brown Rice Lentil Salad

          This is a simple, healthful and savory brown rice lentil salad. Make a batch for a party, or eat it for lunch all week.
          Prep Time 10 minutes
          Cook Time 45 minutes
          Total Time 55 minutes
          Serves 8

          Ingredients

          • 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
          • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, divided
          • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
          • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils (lentilles du Puy), rinsed and picked over for stones
          • 1 dried bay leaf
          • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
          • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
          • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
          • 1 small handful parsley leaves, minced
          • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
          • 2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
          • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

          Directions

          1. To cook the rice, combine it in a medium pot with 3 cups water, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and the butter.
          2. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat so that you see just a bit of steam escaping, and cook for 40 minutes without lifting the lid.
          3. Meanwhile, to cook the lentils, place them in a smallish pot with the bay leaf, Herbes de Provence, and a generous pinch of salt. Cover with about two inches of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
          4. Drain the lentils and remove the bay leaf.
          5. Place the chopped red onion, bell pepper and parsley in a large bowl.
          6. When the rice and lentils are cooked, add them, too.
          7. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, the vinegar, the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, and the black pepper until emulsified.
          8. Pour the dressing over the warm rice and lentils and toss to combine well.
          9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

          Nutrition Information

          Amount Per Serving:

          Calories:: 343 Total Fat:: 9.9g Carbohydrates:: 52.7g Fiber:: 5.7g Protein:: 12.2g

            Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

            Prep Time 40 minutes
            Cook Time 15 minutes
            Total Time 55 minutes
            Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

            Ingredients

            • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
            • 2 tablespoons olive oil
            • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
            • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
            • Freshly ground black pepper
            • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
            • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

            Directions

            Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

            Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

            Preheat the oven to 450°F.

            1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

            2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

            3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

            4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

            5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

            6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

            7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

            Notes

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