Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cauliflower Alfredo Style Pasta Sauce

 I was inspired by an recipe I found at pinchofyum.com, which used cauliflower as a base for Alfredo sauce. I decided to try it out, especially since a huge cauliflower head only costs $1.50 at my local Kroger.

In my household, we are very picky about our Alfredo sauce. It has to taste awesome. Ever since I started making my own at home, we have never gone back to a store bought version. I actually cringe at the thought of eating a store bought Alfredo sauce. Homemade tastes that much better.

 Unfortunately, Alfredo sauce is made completely of dairy products. Just cream and cheese. Obviously this is not very healthy, and high in calories and fat.

Since the new year started, I have a goal to eat as healthy as possible. This prompted me to try out a lot of new recipes, which substituted out bad ingredients for healthier ones. When I get a successful recipe I will blog about it.

Anyways, I did tweak the original recipe a bit, so that it tasted more like Alfredo sauce. For example, I added Parmesan cheese and used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. Real, freshly grated Parmesan cheese is not bad for you, and my chicken broth is also homemade which means its not full of salt and preservatives.

The end result really surprised me. The sauce was very smooth, creamy, and light. The texture was perfect. The flavor now...it tasted very good, but not 100% like Alfredo sauce. But still, it was nearly exactly like Alfredo sauce. Maybe I could have added more Parmesan cheese?

This recipe is definitely worth trying. My husband, who notoriously hates all my healthy recipes and substitutions, even said this tasted good. We both agreed its not exactly like original Alfredo sauce, but it still tasted really good.

 When approaching picky eaters, like my husband, dont say "This is Alfredo sauce", because then they instantly compare it to Alfredo sauce, and conclude that its not "good" because its not 100% exactly like Alfredo sauce. This time I said, "its a white style pasta sauce". When he tried it he said "it tastes good, what is it?". I paused, unsure if I should tell him the truth.

I told him, "Its a pasta sauce, made out of cauliflower." He just shrugged his shoulders, and continued devouring his meal. Phew. That was close! No sarcastic commentary this time. And that says a lot, because like I mentioned before, we are very picky when it comes to Alfredo sauce.

It made for a delicious pasta primavera with steamed broccoli, sweet corn kernels, and sauteed chicken breast.

1 lb of your favorite pasta. I had spaghetti on hand, so thats what I used. Cook it as described on the cooking directions of the pasta box.

1 large head of cauliflower

4 cups of a broth of your choice. I recommend something that does not have lots of flavor, like chicken broth, or vegetable broth. You don't want to use beef broth, because then the sauce tastes like beef.

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced up, or use a garlic press.

2tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp salt + more to taste

black pepper to taste

pinch of nutmeg

Some kind of liquid to help thin out the sauce. I used 1/4 cup of milk. You could use water, broth, or dairy free milks. You might want to add more than 1/4 cup depending on the consistency you like with your pasta sauce.

Additional items- vegetables and/or your meat of choice. I used canned whole kernel sweet corn, steamed broccoli, and sauteed chicken breast in mine. You can get creative and mix whatever you like into the pasta and sauce.

This sauce is also a good replacement for bechamel sauce. I'm going to make a lasagne one day with this sauce.

1. Clean, and chop up the cauliflower into smaller pieces. 

2. Bring the 4 cups of broth to simmer/borderline boiling, then add the chopped up cauliflower.

3. Cover and cook until very soft and tender, for about 30 minutes. Do not let this burn! Check up on it, stir it around, and add some water if the liquid level goes down a lot and your concerned it will burn.

4. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat the 2 tbs of olive oil in a small pot or skillet. Add the finely minced/pressed garlic. Saute on medium heat, stirring constantly. You want to extract the garlic flavor into the oil. Be very careful not to burn the garlic, or you will have to start over.

5. Once the garlic is translucent, strain it out, and reserve the olive oil mixture for later.

6. When the cauliflower is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool down for 5 minutes. Next, blend the cauliflower with the broth it cooked in, in a very good blender, until very smooth and creamy. You might have to do this in batches, if your blender is not big enough. Be careful blending hot items. I have a ninja blender, which has a little pour notch that can be opened to let all the steam come out as I blend the hot cauliflower mixture. If your blender does not have some sort of small opening, then let the cauliflower mixture cool completely before blending it all.

7. Once its all blended, add the olive oil mixture. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

8. Add enough liquid, such as milk or water to thin out the sauce to your liking. 

9. Now its time to taste it. Add as much Parmesan cheese as you like. Add more salt and pepper to your taste.


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