Creamy Spaghetti with Shrimp and Veggies

After an incredible 5 course meal on Valentine’s Day we needed something a little lighter later on in the week. More than a recipe, this is more a concept you can use to make super healthy, yet satisfying pastas. Instead of using cream to make an alfredo-style sauce, use low-fat cream cheese and pasta cooking water to make a light sauce that tastes rich and creamy, but without the fat. It tricks your taste buds, for real.

For two servings, start out with about 3 cups of fresh veggies of your choice, all thinly sliced.

I chose onion, red pepper, carrots and mushrooms. But you can make any combo you prefer. Another good combo I made some time ago was fresh spinach, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, and bacon (cook the bacon, set aside on paper towels and drain the fat from the pan before cooking the veggies, chop it up and add it at the end – 1 slice per serving adds a lot of salty delicious flavor but if you get rid of the fat, it doesn’t ruin a “light” recipe).

Anyway, this is super simple: while you bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your choice of pasta (spaghetti, linguini, fettuccine…) according to the package directions, start by sauteing shrimp on high in about a tablespoon of olive oil. I use a lot of frozen shrimp which I don’t even bother to defrost for these types of things, but it’s important that the heat is on high so that you don’t end up with a ton of liquid from the shrimp. Once the shrimp are almost cooked, about 3 minutes, add all of the veggies. Sauté 3-5 more minutes on high, add a pinch or two of salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is cooked al dente (slightly firm), scoop a cup of the pasta water and reserve, then drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the veggies and shrimp. Add 3 tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese and a little bit of the reserved pasta water. Toss until the cream cheese is evenly incorporated and add more pasta water, if needed. As soon as it’s mixed, serve and sprinkle with Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese.

So, super simple and fast, but healthy and very satisfying. The majority of the bulk is vegetables so it’s a great way to cut down on the simple carbs in pasta (you could even add whole-wheat pasta for a more fiber-full version) and get in a days worth of veggies (very important!).

Enjoy! And let me know if you come up with any delish combinations I need to try!

Here’s the ingredients as adapted by me:

  • 4 oz uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup small frozen shrimp
  • 3 cups assorted sliced veggies (1 small onion, 1/2 a red pepper, 5 white mushrooms, one carrot and a clove of garlic)
  • 3 tbsp low-fat cream cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Grana Padano cheese, freshly grated

*Recipe adapted from (link)