Springtime Vegetable Alfredo

Wow.  It’s been almost a month since I’ve been around here on the blog.  With summer around the corner and the garden starting to give us the first lettuce, spinach, and other produce of the year, I have a feeling that there will be a lot more blogging around the corner.

One of the things that gets to me about winter, besides the snow and wind, is the lack of fresh vegetables that are locally grown and reasonably priced.  I found that I did not put up nearly enough food to keep us satisfied throughout the winter.  This year we will be growing a much bigger garden and hopefully putting up more tomatoes, hot peppers, and frozen vegetables.

The other night Wade and I made a tasty Vegetable Alfredo with the year’s first harvest of spinach.  Sauteed veggies, whole wheat pasta, and a light alfredo sauce that tastes totally rich was a healthy and satisfying supper.  Different combinations of seasonally available vegetables like squash and eggplant would also work nicely in this dish.  Pair with a fresh salad tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and a crisp white wine.

Vegetables:
•1 Tablespoon olive oil
•1 large onion, diced
•3 large cloves garlic, minced
•1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
•1 large red pepper, sliced into thin strips
•4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
•2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Lighter Alfredo Sauce:
•1 Tablespoon olive oil
•1 heaping Tablespoon flour
•2 1/2 cups lowfat milk
•4 oz. neufchatel, or cream cheese
•1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
•dash nutmeg
•Salt and pepper to taste
•generous dash of fresh sage

•1 pound whole wheat spaghetti, cooked to al dente

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.  Stir in the fresh mushrooms and red pepper slices and cook until the peppers become tender, but still have some bite left to them and the water released by the mushrooms has evaporated.  Fold in the spinach and parsley.  Cook until the spinach wilts down.

Meanwhile, heat the other tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour to make a roux.  Add about half a cup of milk.  Stir with a whisk until thickened.  Continue gradually adding the milk and stirring until thickened.  Add the neufchatel and Parmesan cheese and cook until they has melted into the sauce.  Season with the nutmeg, sage, salt, and pepper.

Fold the sauteed vegetables into the sauce.  Toss with cooked spaghetti and serve with additional Parmesan, if desired.

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