Quick and easy Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo is rich, creamy and utterly delicious. Naturally vegan with whole food ingredients, this fiber-rich sauce and pasta recipe is perfect for a healthy weekday family meal.
The quickest weekday meals often centre around pasta. And why wouldn’t they? Pasta is hugely versatile, coming in so many types – wheat, bean, yam, etc – and so many shapes. It is easy to cook and goes with nearly everything we might eat at dinner, too. From the simplicity of a perfect cacio e pepe to pillowy homemade spinach and ricotta tortelli, pasta is always a winner. And now that gluten-free pastas are mainstream, anyone can enjoy it. Almost any non-meat recipe involving pasta can be adapted to special diets and individual tastes.Take Fettuccine Alfredo. At its most basic it is a ridiculously rich and creamy sauce made of double (heavy) cream, finely grated Parmesan cheese, butter and garlic. It is a true weekday pasta dish that many of us enjoy, with perhaps modification to sub non-vegetarian Parmesan cheese for one not made with animal rennet.
I personally find vegetarian hard cheeses universally awful and would rather have something else. Hence my quest to not only lighten up a popular family recipe but make it suitable for vegans and those, like me, who prefer to mostly eat nutritious vegan food.
Today’s recipe is an infinitely healthier riff on the traditional recipe, but in no way does it feel like a poor substitute. Creamy? Yep. Savoury? Uh huh. Garlicky? You betcha. Delicious? Hells yeah!
How to make and use the Alfredo sauce
Once made the sauce can be used not only on your pasta of choice, it can be mixed through any grains, or tossed with roasted, spiralized or steamed vegetables. It can even be used as a dip and sandwich spread. Personally I like just licking it straight off the spoon! I’ve also stir-fried some greens and mushrooms for breakfast and run a few tablespoons of Alfredo sauce through it – amazing!
The Alfredo sauce is easy and straightforward to make, a combination of roasting – the cauliflower, seeds and garlic – and blending. The cauliflower goes in a moderately hot oven for 25 minutes, adding the seeds and chopped garlic for the last eight minutes. Then it’s just a matter of blending it up with vegetable stock, lemon, seasoning and nutritional yeast (Marmite would make the sauce quite dark but you could go there if that’s all you have). It’s that easy! While the cauliflower is roasting, get your pasta on.
The one thing you’ll need is a blender. I use my super-powerful Optimum 9400 Froothie to get the sauce incredibly smooth and creamy, but any good blender will suffice. I’ve not tried it in a food processor, but this would probably be fine.
I would also advise that you make the sauce in two simple stages. Whizz up the sunflower seeds, first – not expensive cashews! – then add the rest of the ingredients. Sure you can bung in everything at once but you will have to do more tamping and side scraping of your blender, and I’m too impatient for that. Add the seeds (and garlic) to a separate baking tray for ease – unlike my image where it’s all together.
You may be wondering why I’ve added both seeds and cauliflower, and whether you need to roast the latter. The seeds alone with the other ingredients make a great sauce, but the cauliflower adds more depth of flavour, nutrition and fibre. Cauliflower alone just isn’t rich enough to hold attention here; boiled or steamed cauliflower even less so. But do skip the roasting if you need to, adding more nutritional yeast to try and make up for the lack of roasting veg flavour. If you steam/boil, saute the garlic and pan-toast the seeds before adding to the mix.
Customise your Alfredo sauce
I’ve added young flat leaf parsley, but I think that a small amount of chervil or even French tarragon (not Russian or Mexican – too strong) would go nicely with the parsley and sauce. Some folk like to add chilli flakes or powder, however I just like to sprinkle in more pepper if I want it to be a little spicier. Add 20g of pea protein powder to the whole dish for more satiety (or perhaps sauteed, garlicky shrimp if you aren’t keeping it completely plant-based). Perhaps swirl in spiralised courgette/zucchini, wilted spinach or other soft or softened greens; add sliced roasted baby carrots or steamed asparagus. Sides such as roasted peppers – pop them in the oven 10 minutes after the cauliflower – and a bowl of fresh, young raw or steamed greens go extremely well, too.
Weekday pasta meals can not only be nutritious and family pleasing, but quick and easy. Do you agree? Other than a homemade tomato sauce, what’s your favourite, nutritious go-to, straight-in-the-door pasta supper dish? Share any links from your own blog 🙂
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
This is rich, creamy & utterly delicious. Naturally vegan with whole food ingredients, this fiber-rich sauce and pasta recipe is perfect for a healthy weekday family meal. I didn’t have fettuccine, instead using tagliatelle. Any long pasta – bucatini, spaghetti, linguine – would be lovely. xx
1 small/medium cauliflower – about 1 kg/2 lbs untrimmed weight
2 tbsp good olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
45g (1/3 US cup) shelled raw sunflower seeds
180ml (3/4 US cup) light vegetable stock
20g (rounded 1/4 US cup) nutritional yeast (more to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (more to taste)
1/4 tsp onion powder
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or more, to taste)
Salt, to taste (I used 1/4 tsp)
White pepper, to taste (I used 1/4 tsp)
Fresh parsley, chopped, for substantial garnishing
Lemon wedges, for serving
Long pasta of choice
1. Chop the cauliflower – core, stems and all – fairly evenly (it’s going in a blender, remember), saving some of the whole leaves for garnish. Toss in most of the olive oil, lay in a single layer on a large baking sheet(s), and place in a 180C fan/200C/400F oven for 25 minutes. Mix the chopped garlic into the remaining oil and place on a small tray, along with the seeds; add the tray after 17 minutes. If you are roasting the leaves, add these to the cauliflower at 15 minutes.
2. Cook the pasta while the sauce ingredients are in the oven, saving some pasta water for adding to the sauce if you wish.
3. Add the roasted seeds and garlic to a blender or food processor, grinding down to a ‘coarse sand’ texture, then add the cauliflower, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, onion powder, vegetable stock, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper. Blend until you get a very smooth sauce. Taste and adjust as needed.
4. Gently heat the sauce in a clean pan, adding a dash of hot stock or pasta water if you wish. Pour the sauce into the hot pasta and toss well with tongs or two forks. Serve the Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo sauce and pasta with lemon wedges, and garnished with plenty of chopped parsley.
Any leftover Alfredo sauce can be used as a dip or sandwich spread, or reheated for pasta.