The Book Cook: Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel | Creamy Alfredo with Tuscan Chicken Meatballs

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel by James Markert is truly a story that sticks with you if you let it—which is interesting since the primary theme of the book is the power of memory. I first read the book two years ago and not only was it the perfect poolside read, but it really captured a beautiful blend of history and mythology, which is a surefire way to my heart. This is easily a five-star book in my opinion, so I thought it would be a great way to kick off my new #TheBookCook blog series, where I’ll be sharing book recommendations from my personal reading list along with a recipe that compliments the book.

The final product: Dairy- and gluten-free fettuccine alfredo topped with Tuscan chicken meatballs. Yum.

Because Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel has such a strong theme of memories, I thought I’d draw on some of my own memories to recreate—and elevate—one of my favorite childhood dishes: chicken alfredo.

I haven’t been able to eat gluten or dairy in years, which is why I also haven’t eaten chicken alfredo in years. So this recipe will really be a joy for those of you who also can’t eat dairy or gluten…because, let’s be honest, if you can eat dairy and gluten, you’re probably going to just eat the real thing, right? Or, maybe you’ll be tempted to try something new. Don’t worry, consuming this doesn’t come with a price. 😉

Note: I make a point to rarely give precise measurements on seasonings. You do you! I like things very peppery and spicy most of the time. I encourage you to experiment with herbs to find what you like and how much of it.

Ingredients:
1 box Cappello’s Almond Flour Fettucine (grain free)

Vegan Alfredo Sauce
4 oz dairy-free cream cheese (I recommend Miyoko’s cashew cream cheese)
1 cup oat milk
1.5 sticks of vegan butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
Olive Oil

Tuscan Chicken Meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken
1 egg
¼ cup of gluten free regular (not panko) breadcrumbs
Fresh spinach, chopped
Sundried tomatoes, chopped
Italian herbs, garlic and onion powder salt, pepper, etc. to taste.

Directions:

If you want to kick it up a notch and really carb-load, make a cross-hatch pattern in a baguette-style loaf, melt some butter with Italian herbs and smother the bread in it. Bake until warm and desired crispiness is achieved.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs,chopped spinach and sundried tomatoes (to taste) and your desired seasonings. Spray a baking ban with non-stick spray.
  3. Form meatballs about 2 inches in diameter and spread them evenly across your greased baking sheet. Bake in 350-degree oven until meatballs are 165 degrees in center (about 25 minutes)
  4. On the stovetop, coat a deep nonstick pan in olive oil and turn on medium-low heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Then add minced garlic and three tablespoons of butter and sauté until fragrant.
  5. Add 4 oz (or more, I’m not judging) of dairy-free cream cheese and turn pan to a simmer. Add a half cup of oat milk and half a stick of butter. Let melt together, stirring occasionally.
  6. As sauce begins to thicken, gradually add the remainder of the milk and butter. (Add less if you want very thick sauce or more if you would prefer to thin your sauce out. If you make your sauce too thin on accident, simply add more cream cheese.)
  7. Cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. (If you get the Cappello’s brand, it is recommended to keep the pasta frozen until boiling.)
  8. Drain your pasta and add it to the sauce pan on the stovetop. Turn the sauce pan off and gently toss your fettuccine in your alfredo. Scoop into a bowl and top with a few Tuscan chicken meatballs for a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free chicken alfredo!

Making this truly was a trip down memory lane to my childhood alfredo obsession. I will definitely be making this again. Let me know your thoughts (on the book, on the recipe, or on other things!) in the comments!

-HRG

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