Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Skinny Pumpkin Alfredo: My No-Guilt Fall Pasta by Cleo Coyle #vegetarian

From Cleo Coyle:

Marc and I have enjoyed this tasty dish for years, so much so that we shared our take on the recipe in our 16th Coffeehouse Mystery: DEAD COLD BREW. Today we're happy to re-share it with all of you, along with a free, downloadable PDF, which you'll find below.

As for more recent writing (and cooking) we're looking forward to the release of HONEY ROASTED (our 19th entry in our Coffeehouse Mystery series), coming this January. Click the cover below to learn more or pre-order...

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We've put together a fun, twisty mystery for you in HONEY ROASTED and the featured recipes in the book are delicious. Of course, many of them include honey, which we've enjoyed cooking with for years. While there is no honey in today's recipe, the honey-orange color does make it a pretty dish for fall.

So let's get our pasta sauce on!

Cleo Coyle writes two
bestselling mystery
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🎃 A Recipe Note from Cleo

First a bit of history: You may have seen American recipes for Alfredo sauce that include copious amounts of cream or even a cheese sauce made with roux (flour and fat), but the original Fettuccine Alfredo was simply a variation of a dish commonly eaten in Italy: pasta with cheese and butter (fettuccine al burro). 

In the early 1900s, an Italian restaurateur named Alfredo Di Lelio added even more butter to this common recipe, and the dish so impressed honeymooning movie stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks that they brought it back to Hollywood and the rest is culinary history.

You can see the original recipe here. The link takes you right to Alfredo alla Scrofa, the very Roman restaurant that made the dish famous.

The original Alfredo sauce recipe has given birth to many variations, and "Pumpkin Alfredo" is a gorgeous way to serve it for the fall season. Trader Joe's even offers its own jarred version. This "skinny" take on the dish, which Marc and I are sharing today, is the way we like to make it.

With low fat milk and very little butter, our Alfredo still tastes rich and decadent, yet it's much lighter than the classic. Pumpkin puree is the key, of course, adding creaminess without all the extra dairy. 
Don't worry about the taste of pumpkin in the sauce. You'll hardly know it's there. And with this healthful winter squash bringing fiber and nutrition to the table, the dish is truly a no-guilt indulgence. We like to eat it with spinach fettuccine or one of the high-fiber pastas now on the market. Higher protein semolina pastas are also a nice way to up the nutrition of this already good-for-you dish. 

May you eat with autumnal joy!

~ Cleo 

To download this recipe in a free
PDF document that you can
print, save, or share, click here.

Cleo Coyle's
Skinny Pumpkin 

Serves 2 large or 4 small servings


For the Pasta:

8 ounces fresh cooked fettuccine (half of a one pound box)

For the Sauce:

1 Tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
(or 1 clove of fresh garlic, minced)

1/2 cup low fat milk (use 2% for best results)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine, but be sure to use pumpkin and not "pumpkin pie" filling)

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt)

2 ounces Neufchatel cheese (or low fat cream cheese)

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, or aged (hard) Asiago cheese or a combo of two or three of these cheeses (*Also see my note at the end of this recipe.)

Optional Garnishes:

Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon zest
Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley


Step 1: Prepare the fettuccine according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic powder (or minced garlic) and cook and stir for about a minute. Stir in the milk, pumpkin, salt, Neufchatel or low fat cream cheese, and shredded hard cheese (or cheeses if using a combo). Stir continually for 3 to 5 
minutes, until cheese completely melts and the sauce thickens. Keeping the sauce nice and hot, fold in the drained fettuccine and coat noodles.

Step 3: Serve immediately. This dish is delicious as is or try these wonderful garnishes to add even more complexity to the flavors: ground black pepper; lemon zest; and/or finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (or a sprinkling of ground, dried Italian herbs, such as a mix of oregano, rosemary, and basil).

*NOTE: This recipe is versatile when it comes to the cheese. As mentioned, you can use shredded Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Asiago, or a combination of the three. My one piece of advice is this: Do not use pre-shredded cheeses. You know the ones: they hang in a bag in your grocer's refrigerator case. Those cheeses have "non-clumping" agents included (like potato starch) and those ingredients will retard the melting of the cheese into your sauce. Buy the cheese fresh and shred it yourself. You'll get better results. 

Eat (and read) with joy!

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

This is me -- Cleo (Alice) 
with my husband Marc.

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  1. How pretty!
    I am amused by you saying this serves 4 and uses 1/2 pound of pasta! That would be an appetizer at best in my family!

    1. Hi, Libby - It is pretty, isn't it? Great color for fall. On the servings, the old rule of thumb is 2 ounces of dry pasta is a technical serving. (Probably too old a rule!) And I think you make a good point, so I've updated the recipe to clarify that this recipe make 2 large or 4 small servings. And that should help guide anyone using it. Thanks for the input, Libby, much appreciated. It is always, always a pleasure to see you in our Kitchen. Have a delicious October. xoxo

      ~ Cleo
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