When it comes to comfort food it doesn’t get much better than a big bowl of fettuccine with creamy Alfredo Sauce. Am I right?
For most months of the year I eat pretty darn well. Kicking it off every January with my 30 day cleanse, I maintain a mostly whole foods, gluten & refined sugar free diet throughout the spring and summer. And I feel awesome. I have lots of energy, I sleep straight through the night, and I manage stress better. Life is great when I make healthy choices and I can never imagine another way. But then something happens towards the end of September. The days get shorter, the pumpkin spices come out, tea gets replaced with homemade chai lattes (or Cabernet Sauvignon), and I start in on some hardcore comfort food craving. And if I’ve learned anything in 34 years (or even the 10 I’ve been eating vegan), those cravings will stop at nothing. It’s pasta and potatoes from here until the sun sets on 2016.
I’m not sure if it’s the days getting colder and rainier or the sweaters and boots coming out, but something about this season makes me want to be surrounded by all things comfortable: fires in the fireplace or lit candles around the house (guys, I’ve seriously got two lit candles on the table as I type this post and it’s still light outside), incense that smells like fresh cut cedar, scarves that never come off, and a constant rotation of baked goods coming out of my oven. I want all of it around me at all times. And then for dinner, I want pasta.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I’m not alone, right?
This recipe is a variation on a variation of an old Alfredo Sauce recipe of mine. Ten years ago I started making this sauce with a tofu base because at the time it was the only way I knew how to make a creamy base for anything (I may have kept those tofu companies in business with how much of it I was eating). Years later I adapted it using cashews, which you can find here. But if you spend any time on Pinterest (which every blogger should) you start getting inspired by all kinds of new things and it was there that I first learned of Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce.
This is, by far, my favorite variation of the recipe. It is soy-free, not nearly as heavy and rich as the cashew-based one, and is chock-full (thanks to the cauliflower) of good things like Vitamin C, B6, Vitamin K, and Protein. It is still incredibly creamy and decadent but doesn’t leave you feeling full and heavy afterwards. And, I can tell you first hand, that it’s a proven way to get your picky littles to eat their cauliflower.
So while I’m all about comfort for the next 3 months, things get even better when health and comfort come together in a delicious, hearty meal that the whole family will love.
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup white onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups fresh cauliflower florets
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Small handful of fettuccine pasta (about 1 inch in diameter)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 cup onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh asparagus, chopped
- 1 cup portobello mushrooms, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the vegan butter or coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add cauliflower florets and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Once slightly tender, add vegetable broth, cover and cook until cauliflower is soft all the way through, about 5 more minutes.
- Transfer to a high-speed blender and add remaining Alfredo Sauce ingredients. Blend until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Cook the fettuccine in boiling water for 7-9 minutes, until al dente. Drain into a colander and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook five minutes.
- Add asparagus and mushrooms and continue to saute for another 5-7 minutes, until tender and slightly browned.
- Combine vegetables with 1/2 of the Alfredo Sauce (the other half can be saved for later) and toss with cooked fettuccini noodles.
- Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
- Optional: Sprinkle with a bit of vegan parmesan cheese before serving