The other night, just in from vacation and kind of "meated out" after the holidays, my wife took a hankering for Fettuccine Alfredo. Thinking that I'd cut back on the calories and fat in the cream department in order to allow me to use extra cheese without too much guilt, I used up the last of a carton of Land-O-Lakes non-fat Half & Half, and it worked pretty well. The sauce might not have been quite as thick and creamy as the original, but it tasted so good that it didn't seem to matter.

I did a couple of other variations on the classic recipe, adding a taste of fresh ginger and stirring in some yummy Gruyere cheese. I don't think Alfredo would have been too upset by the changes, though ...

Boil enough fettuccine or linguine for two. While it's cooking, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter (I used "Light" butter) in a sautee pan, and sautee a couple of smashed garlic cloves and a whacked fresh-ginger "coin" in it until they're good and aromatic. Add 1/2 cup nonfat Half & Half (or go with the real stuff, or even heavy cream, if you like); grate in a little nutmeg and pepper (use white pepper if you want to be finicky about avoiding the fly-speck appearance in this white dish); bring to the boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer gently and thicken a little while the pasta finishes cooking.

Drain the pasta, discard the garlic and ginger pieces, and turn the pasta in to the simmering liquid. Toss with 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano and 1/2 cup grated Gruyere until the cheeses melt. Dump into bowls and serve pronto, while it's hot.

This makes a fine first course for an Italian banquet, but it also served us very well with just bread and a salad as a light evening meal. Went very nicely indeed with the new Podere dell'Olivos 1995 Tocai Friulano.