Monday, January 14, 2013

Dairy Free Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

I love cheesy pasta dishes. I was disappointed when I went back to Pittsburgh in August and had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Joe Mama's, realizing that all of my usual orders were smothered in cheesy sauces: Hug Yo Belly Gemelli, Herbed Chicken and Penne, Nonna's Gnocchi... Another Pittsburgh restaurant, Eat 'n' Park, was a common place for me and my husband to go for a quick lunch or dinner. Our usual was their Chicken Broccoli Alfredo. In college we loved to go to The Underground at Carnegie Mellon, where we would get a plate of hot pasta topped with creamy Alfredo sauce and marinara. The point is, I used to order Alfredo all the time.

I gave it up for awhile, refining my tastes by ordering complex pasta dishes at Italian places and trying new things with more nutrion. But lately I've been craving cheesy things. The only solution to that is to experiment with dairy alternative products and to create masterpieces. My dairy free chicken broccoli Alfredo is definitely a masterpiece. It tastes better than the real thing and I'm serious. I could eat this everyday!

I used the best tasting dairy free alternatives: Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond Milk, and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. Aged parmesan cheese has very little lactose, 0mg per serving, so it's not going to bother lactose intolerant people in small amounts. In large amounts it will, so if you eat a lot be careful or take a Lactaid pill. It can't be eaten by people with a milk allergy. For a completely dairy free version, I recommend using Vegan Grated Parmesan Cheese Alternative by Galaxy Nutritional Foods. There's also a parmesan cheese alternative on the market called Parma!. It's made with walnuts, salt, and nutritional yeast. I haven't tried it yet but I'll blog about it when I do.

3 tablespoons Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

1/3 cup parmesan cheese or parmesan cheese alternative
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

2 chicken breasts, sliced and grilled
1/2 lb of linguine
1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli


1. Make sure your chicken breast is cooked or almost finished before starting the sauce, pasta, and broccoli. I cut mine into four thin strips and grilled them with my George Foreman Grill the same time I started the pasta. I also recommend broiling for a grilled chicken taste. Start pasta by following the directions for cooking on the back of the box. Prep broccoli for quick light microwave steaming by putting it in a dish with a tablespoon of water and covering it.

2. Once your pasta and chicken are cooking, start the sauce. Melt Smart Balance in a large saucepan over medium heat. After it is melted add almond milk, sour cream, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine.
2. Dissolve the cornstarch in water in a small dish and gradually add to milk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Bring sauce to a simmer. Cook for five minutes or until mixture has started to thicken. Add parmesan cheese and whisk to combine.
3. While the sauce is thickening, steam fresh broccoli for two minutes in the microwave. Go back to the sauce, remove from heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley.

4. At this point, you can cut your chicken into small strips and combine all ingredients in the saucepan to coat with the Alfredo sauce, or you can layer them: pasta, chicken, broccoli, and sauce. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and mangia!