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Buttermilk Alfredo Pasta

2008 January 17
by taiyyaba

Buttermilk Alfredo Pasta
A tangy, creamy pasta with chicken or shrimp, spinach, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes.

I made a pumpkin cake last weekend for my sister-in-law’s birthday [Turned out great – basic pumpkin spice cake recipe and then added half a can of pumpkin into a carton of Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting. Made a pretty orange frosting.]

So anyway – made pumpkin cake, had most of a quart of buttermilk left. I’m not a fan of fried chicken, and plus I think it’s a waste to use a quart of lovely, thick, rich buttermilk just to soak some chicken in. I had baked five things in the past week and a half [2 banana breads, pumpkin cake, banana-coconut muffins, and blueberry muffins] so I wasn’t going to bake anything. What to do, what to do?

My friend Sarah suggested a buttermilk sauce for pasta or chicken. Ayesha suggested mellowing it with spinach so that the potential over-tangy-ness would be a little softer. I found a recipe in The New Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook for a buttermilk sauce thickened with cornstarch instead of the Alfredo’s traditional roux, which is convenient when wanting to make a quick dinner and not stand over the stove stirring flour. I added veggies and cheese to their basic recipe. Success.

Result = a tangy, creamy, cheesy sauce mellowed a little by the veggies that lusciously hugs ever single strand of pasta. It’s stronger than Alfredo and a little less creamy – a good alternative when you want something strongly flavored but not as heavy [buttermilk is surprisingly low in fat, considering its thickness.] Chicken swims happily. Pretty colors. Just all-around yummy.

Another option: Buttermilk Alfredo Mashed Potatoes and Chicken: This sauce is excellent over pasta, here, but it’s also amazing mixed into mashed potatoes with a little chicken broth. Another option – skip the pasta and spoon some directly over grilled or pan-fried chicken.

Another option: Potato and Leek (and Spinach and Mushroom) Soup. Mix this sauce into a batch of mashed potatoes and freeze the whole thing. Keep them on hand to mix with sauteed leeks and chicken broth for a quick, hearty soup.

So many options! Excited? Well done. Onwards! Recipe here:

Buttermilk Alfredo Pasta
Recipe yields about 6-7 servings, depending on how hungry your husband is
Total time = 30 min start to table

8 oz [or whatever 1 package is] button mushrooms, sliced [buttons were on sale that day, but creminis would be superb in this]
Half a small onion, sliced thinly
Six or seven sundried tomatoes, sliced
Package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained/all the water squeezed out
One or two cloves of garlic, sliced or minced (I used the jarred stuff)

Four chicken cutlets [basically I took half a chicken breast and pounded it thin/butterflied it into four pieces]
Seasoned flour [salt, cracked pepper, pinch of mixed dried herbs]

Three cups buttermilk
Three tablespoons of cornstarch
Salt, cracked pepper, pinch of mixed dried herbs [my Italian herbs mix includes
Half cup of cheese [I used an Italian cheese blend with Mozzarella, Asiago, Fontina, and whatever else came in that bag]

Pasta – I used a bag of rotini

Salt to taste

Pre-sauce work [about 2 minutes]: Mix the buttermilk, cornstarch and seasonings. Let it sit while you make everything else. Come back and visit it to stir every once in a while. [The best way I found to mix all that liquid was just to take out about half a cup of it and mix the cornstarch into that, then pour the whole thing into the 3 cups]

Pasta [depends on what you use] : Set a large pot of water boiling so you can be ready to drop the pasta when you need to. Rotini takes about 7-8 minutes accoriding to the package, so make at a proper time so that you can just pull it out, drain it, pour it into the finished sauce, and let the whole thing mesh for a few minutes.

Chicken [about 10 minutes] : Moisten the chicken cutlets with just a bit of buttermilk so the flour will stick. Dredge the chicken cutlets in seasoned flour and pan-fry on both sides until golden brown and pretty much cooked through. Set aside in a plate, cover with foil while you make everything else. [Note for next time: the chicken was a little too bland – I might next time press a mix of garlic powder and black pepper into the cutlets before I dredge them with flour…or something….they needed more flavor.]

Veggies [about 10 minutes]: Clean up any icky brown oil that might be left in the post-chicken frying pan. Throw in the onions and mushrooms, let them sweat/soften. Season with some cracked pepper while they’re going. Put in the spinach and tomatoes, add another layer of seasoning [pepper, some dried or fresh herbs if you want] let it all meld together. Once it looks done, take it out.

Making the sauce [about 5 min]: Pour the buttermilk mixture into the pan. In the beginning, it won’t do anything, so you can use this time to make sure everything else you will need soon [the cheese, veggies, chicken] is next to you because once it starts bubbling, you can’t move. Use the next couple of minutes to slice the chicken into eat-able chunks.
Start stirring the sauce with a whisk – it’s going to start to thicken. You’ll think nothing is happening, but all of a sudden it’ll start to bubble and go almost translucent and runny – that’s probably the buttermilk curdling – but don’t worry! It’s supposed to do that – just keep mixing, letting it thicken. If you stop, the cornstarch will fall to the bottom and the sauce will get gunky. Keep mixing. After 2 or 3 minutes, it’ll really look like a thick sauce. Add in the cheese, stir to melt. [the whisk became unhelpful now so I switched to a heat-proof spatula]

Putting it all together [about 3 min]: Add the cut-up chicken and veggies into the sauce. Mix it all together, let it hang out. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add in the cooked pasta, mix and let it mesh.

Serve with crusty bread and steamed veggies [I chose Brussels Sprouts, which Ameir claimed he didn’t like, but I saw him eat quite a few. Delish!

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Sophia permalink
    January 18, 2008

    great photo of the pasta

  2. Jessica permalink
    June 19, 2008

    I cannot wait to try this recipe!
    I’m doing a buttermilk-themed multi-course dinner and I was struggling to find a main course when my friend suggested this, the PERFECT dish and I can’t wait to try it out!
    I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes and thank you so much for completing my menu!

  3. June 19, 2008

    Jessica – Thanks for your enthusiasm! I hope it works out well and please do let me know how it goes.

  4. Stephen permalink
    June 24, 2008

    Well I google searched “who throws buttermilk sauce?” and hit I am feeling lucky and it ended up here, interesting?

  5. May 6, 2010

    I found this ideal recipe a little while ago, then went yesterday get hold of the ingredients and then prepared it for lunch, quite delectable.

  6. Sev permalink
    June 23, 2010

    Great recipe! I decided to add some fresh pesto instead of the spinach, since I felt the pesto would do nicely sitting beside the tart buttermilk…Was absolutely fantastic!

    • admin permalink*
      April 6, 2011

      YUM! I’m sure the pesto was superbly awesome. Good choice, Sev.

  7. Pam permalink
    March 28, 2011

    I had buttermilk left over from making Irish soda bread and tried a variation of your recipe. Yum. We have two vegeterians in the mix, so I left out the chicken and made it with collard greens. It tastes a bit like stroganoff (which we also eat a veg variant of). Thanks for the tip.

    • admin permalink*
      April 6, 2011

      Pam – it is a little stroganoff-y! I think it’s the tang of the buttermilk, just like the tang of sour cream. Glad you made it delicious with collards. I usually do end up making this vegetarian without the chicken anyway.

  8. Sarah Frederics permalink
    August 19, 2014

    Made this sauce tonight…it was very good! I used chicken sausages and onions and green pepper with parmesan cheese and leftover buttermilk and elbows (what I had on hand) Husband and I enjoyed and recipe made enough for leftovers. Thanks for a great idea!

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