I received a gift card from Barnes & Noble from a friend and without hesitation went right out and bought Rocco Di Spirito's "Now Eat This," a collection of comfort food recipes retooled with lower fat and caloric contents. Always looking for the magic potion that will equal good food without the naughty stuff, I was hoping I had found the holy grail of cookbooks.
Moondoggy and I are both picky eaters. I am not a huge fan of red meat. I know what you are thinking, but it's true. I have never ordered a steak or roast or anything of the like in a restaurant in my entire life. I seriously have never considered it. Moondoggy does not like nor will he ever eat anything that contains a pea, a green bean, a mushroom or an onion. His onion detector is enviable. He can look at a pizza and spot the accidental onion, take a sip of soup and tell when there is even an onion flake present. Moondoggy presents a challenge when I am cooking because I respect his ick factor, but it makes cooking challenging at times as I promised him a long time ago I would never attempt to sneak an onion, mushroom or green legume in his food. I am, after all, a woman of my word. With the "no, no's" firmly tattooed onto my brain, I took the daring step of attempting one of the recipes in my new book.
Chicken Alfredo a la Rocco Dispirito-
When I am are going for comfort, creamy and rich, I figured I'd start with an alfredo. And while I am not going to lay out the recipes here, I will share some of the surprise secrets here that I believe make the dishes really good - or really bad.
The first ingredient listed is. . . . .Onion garlic puree. Yep onion. What to do, what to do. . .I decided to forge ahead and make what we, here in our house, call Safety Chicken ( a chicken breast cooked in the oven in case the dish is inedible) and follow the recipe as written. The onion garlic puree consists of a sweet vidalia onion chopped into pieces and placed into a microwave safe bowl along with 6 cloves of garlic, a 1/4 cup water and salt and pepper to taste. Cover them with platic wrap, microwave for 10 minutes, then blend or food process until is makes a thick smooth puree (about a cup.)
And THAT is the base for the Alfredo sauce. Onion.
So, the chicken is pounded thin, dredged through wholewheat flour, egg whites and panko bread crumbs. Cook it in a skillet with a dash of olive oil until tender and crisp. Whole wheat pasta cooked in boiling water until done and THE SAUCE: The Onion garlic puree, some milk, nutmeg and grated parmegiano reggiano cheese cooked until the cheese is melted. Coat the pasta, place chicken on top and then finish with the sauce. The aroma is sublime.
And then I did the worst thing I could possibly do. I fed it to Moondoggy. I did so without warning him that the dreaded onion was laced throughout entire dish. Thank God I had a piece of safety chicken in the oven. I held my breath and he took a bite. . .and then another. . .and then another. Finally, he said, "This is good. You can make this again," and I exhaled. It was good - it was really good. And here is the best part. . .
Serves 4 with each serving containing:
320 calories (Yes that's for the chicken, the sauce AND the pasta)
5.5g of fat.
I'm not kidding. Moondoggy gave it 5 stars until a few days later when I caved due to the weight of guilt that was sitting directly on my shoulders. I tearfully admitted there were onions involved and he took it to 4 (on principal, he said) and I have now lost all credibility with him. But, on the bright side, he is willing to try any other recipe that calls for the Onion garlic puree, but swears he won't like it.