Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Classic Béchamel…Healthier

The classic béchamel is a versatile sauce that is rich and creamy. It is known as one of the 'mother' sauces in French cooking (not sure why its called a 'mother' sauce). Although I love this sauce, it is too heavy to eat on a regular basis. The recipe below is a healthier version but still has all of the yummy taste. I substituted light butter (butter with canola oil) for the whole fat butter and fat-free milk for whole milk. You can use low-fat milk and full fat butter to increase the creaminess. The addition of parmesan cheese adds salt and makes the sauce creamier. The basic recipe below makes enough for 8 oz of pasta or one pizza pie.

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced (add more for more garlic flavor)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (from the refrigerator asile, not the canned dry stuff)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  1. Melt butter in heavy bottom pan (use stainless steel if possible) over medium heat. When butter starts foaming (don’t brown!), whisk flour in slowly. Continue whisking until flour is incorporated. Cook for about two minutes while stirring. Make sure not to brown the flour/butter.
  2. While the butter/flour is cooking, warm milk in microwave for ~one minute (it should be warm, not hot).
  3. Slowly add in warm milk in; add small amounts and whisk into to prevent clumps. Once all the milk has been added in, continue to warm on medium for about five minutes until the sauce thickens.
  4. Once sauce has thickened, add garlic, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper and black pepper to taste. Taste the sauce before adding salt. Cook for a minute/two more.
  5. Toss with pasta and enjoy!
  • Spinach Sauce: add either a cup of thawed frozen spinach (water removed) or 1 cup of fresh chopped spinach to step 4.
  • Macaroni and cheese: Add 1 cup cheddar cheese at the end instead of parmesan cheese. Add some salsa for an extra kick.
  • Pink pasta sauce, add marinara to the finished sauce and toss with a pound of pasta.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The cream sauce with spinach is fantastic! I especially love it with the TJ's Pesto Tortellini.