I’ve never been a cream sauce lover; I don’t know if it’s because I genuinely don’t like cream sauces or because I know how unhealthy they can be. As a young child and even today, I’ve always preferred eating spaghetti with garlic and olive oil (aglio e oglio). The flavors of garlic, olive oil, and even a little red pepper were enough to complement a nice spaghetti or linguini. My mom and my grandmother even used to set a little bit of the just-cooked, plain spaghetti aside for me before pouring the red sauce on top for everyone else. As I grew older, my taste buds began to appreciate homemade red sauces, pestos, and wine sauces. However, I’ve still steered clear of ordering and/or making cream sauces…. until about 4 days ago. I found this recipe for spaghetti with creamy spinach in Epicurious, and even though it’s not a true cream sauce (there’s no real cream in it), it was enough to convince me that a healthy “cream” sauce is agreeable with my palate, my stomach, and my eating habits. Substituting the cream with low-fat, plain yogurt not only saves you hundreds of calories, but also prevents the sauce from becoming rich and heavy. Try this recipe as a healthy alternative to a traditional cream sauce!
- 1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
- 1 1/2 c plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 c baby spinach
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
- In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and return to the saucepan.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the flour until smooth.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the yogurt and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring.
- Add the spinach by the handful and cook until wilted, stirring. When all of the spinach has been added, stir in the lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the sauce to the spaghetti and toss well to coat.
- Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve right away.