I really swing from two ends of the pendulum, I love my sweets and yet I *try* to eat healthy when not eating sweets, or comfort foods, or sweets. While I don’t always post my crazy healthy concoctions it is usually because I am cooking from available goods in the fridge without a glimmer of confidence that the crazy concoction du jour will be successful. This one held up well, and since it was requested a number of times after I posted images of it, I am finally sharing it now that I’ve written it down in actual measurements.
The night this recipe evolved, I was craving pasta in Alfredo sauce. The best Alfredo sauce, yes even better than the one I make, is served at Alioto’s Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf. I have the same recipe and yet no matter how many times I make it, theirs is better. But I digress, I wanted to satisfy this flavor craving but not with all of the calories. The plan that night was to make myself a ‘skinny’ version and then prepare the fat-full yummy version for my family. As the cauliflower was cooking, the troops were circling the pot like a flock of seagulls. Despite my explanation of what I was making for myself and what I was going to prepare for them, they unanimously said that they wanted to eat what I was eating, brown rice pasta with a cauliflower sauce. I was skeptical that they would be as pleased, this was not a recipe that I had even tested, but much to my surprise the review was all thumbs up. Now I can say with confidence… if you are looking for that healthy Alfredo pasta sauce that is a bit less rich, this recipe is a crowd pleaser.
The one down side is that once it starts to cool, it does become a bit dried out. Ergo, eat it while it is hot and super tasty and make sure there are no leftovers. And if by chance there are leftovers, well make sure you have some of that pasta water reserved to loosen it up a little. The flavor is just as good the next day, but to get it back to its original consistency reserved past water or broth should be used.
Note: This recipe can even be made dairy free just replace the cream with broth and add 1-2 tsps garlic powder in lieu of the Parmesan cheese; it will just be a bit less creamy.
Mock Alfredo – Cauliflower Pasta Sauce
1 lb pasta (brown rice or quinoa pasta preferred)
5-6 cups cauliflower florets
6 cups vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 cup heavy cream (optional)
2 cups broccoli florets, can add in additional cauliflower florets (optional)
v1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
Remove the cauliflower florets from the body of the cauliflower. In a medium size pot bring vegetable broth to a boil over medium high heat and add florets. Cook cauliflower until soft, approximately 15 minutes. In a large skillet over medium heat add the the garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes or until softened and fragrant.
As cauliflower and garlic are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve some of the pasta water when draining the pasta, in case it is needed to thin out the sauce. If using broccoli florets, cook in a small pan with scan amount of olive oil. Cover with a lid and allow to cook at medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Once cooked, set aside.
When cauliflower is cooked, transfer to a blender or food processor, along with 2 cups of the broth. If using a blender, this may need to be processed in two batches. Add the sauteed garlic, nutmeg, pepper and salt and puree until smooth. Once the mixture is moving in the blender, add 1 TBS olive oil. If mixture is thick in consistency thin it out with additional broth.
When puree is smooth, transfer cauliflower back to the pan used to soften the garlic. Add the cream and cook over low heat. If sauce is too thick, thin it out with pasta water, using a little at a time. Keep warm until ready to use. Combine pasta with the broccoli florets and mix with Alfredo sauce. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of crushed pepper flakes.
Leftovers? If reheating, add in additional broth or any reserved pasta water.