Creamy Cauliflower Vegan Alfredo
I hate starting off my recipes with a warning note, but if you’re new to the whole plant-based thing then don’t freak out when you read the recipe section. Spoiler alert: you won’t find any cheese, butter, or heavy cream in this alfredo recipe. Oh no, we’re creating creamy, dreamy decadent pasta from nuts.
Specifically brazil nuts and cashews.
Oh and there’s cauliflower in there too.
Cue the wierded-out-ness. But please, hear me out. Not too long ago, I would have thought this to be one of the strangest combinations in the world and also a very pathetic excuse for an alfredo pasta. You see, I was a cheese girl growing up (and I still am from time to time). My birthday dinner was always some sort of fettuccini alfredo/carbonara situation (with bacon, cheese, butter, cheese, and more cheese). That pasta was the thing of my dreams: creamy, cheesy, and so filling and heavy that I needed to be rolled away from the table.
This is the current pasta of my (kale and farmers market-laden) dreams. You’d never believe it, but soaking nuts and incorporating them with cauliflower, garlic, nutritional yeast, and other goodies transforms your pasta into something otherworldly, creamy, flavorful, tasty, and alfredo-like! Although it is a bit of a stretch to call this a proper alfredo – go with me on this one, and enjoy diving into a creamy bowl of satisfying vegan pasta.
Unlike traditional alfredo sauce, our cauliflower alfredo is plant-powered. The aforementioned nuts do a number to the creamy consistency and provide the perfect nuttiness and flavor to the sauce. Plus, these nuts rack in the health benefits and will leave you feeling full (in a good way) after eating this pasta…instead of needing to be rolled from the table. The hint of brazil nuts provides an almost buttery taste plus is a rich source of selenium – a vital mineral needed to produce an active thyroid hormone. Cashews are rich in magnesium, iron, and zinc and of course protein too. Cauliflower, the hippest veg of 2015, is an anti-inflammatory cruciferous vegetable shown to boost heart health and fight chronic diseases.
All these delicious whole food ingredients get a good whirl in your high-speed blender and then get swirled together with warm pasta. Holy moly vegan alfredo…this stuff is so good.
Creamy Cauliflower Vegan Alfredo
Serves 4-6 (with leftover sauce!)
½ cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hour
½ cup brazil nuts, soaked at least 1 hour
A small head of cauliflower, chopped into florets – about 3 cups or so
2 small shallots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
½ cup filtered water
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
A handful of parsley (to garnish)
Cooked pasta (I used elbow noodles!)
Begin by steaming your cauliflower florets for 5-7 minutes, or until fork tender. While cauliflower is steaming, bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
As cauliflower is steaming, sauté your garlic and shallots. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat in a small skillet. Add in garlic and shallots and sauté for 5 or so minutes, until garlic is fragrant and golden.
While garlic/shallots are being sautéed and the cauliflower is steaming, drain and rinse your soaked nuts. Add them to the base of a high speed blender, along with ½ cup filter water and blend on high until nuts are creamy and broken down. Add in steamed cauliflower, garlic/shallots, tahini, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Blend on high speed until alfredo sauce is completely creamy – about a minute or two.
Once pasta is boiled, drain and add back into pot. Pour about a ½ cup or so alfredo sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Add in more Alfredo until you’ve reached the sauciness you’d like! Gently warm noodles in pot if needed.
Divide pasta into bowls and garnish with a bit of black pepper, nutritional yeast, and chopped parsley. I also like to add in steamed broccoli florets or peas to boost the veg content even more. Enjoy warm and devour!