Pasta with Cauliflower “Alfredo” and Peas
The first couple of times I made this, Jelani had no idea this wasn’t a traditional alfredo sauce. I can’t remember when I told him but I’m pretty sure the conversation went something like this:
- Jelani – “This is so good! I love pasta with alfredo sauce.”
- Me – “So, what do you think is in it?”
- Jelani – “I don’t know, cream? Butter?”
- Me – “Nope and nope.”
- Jelani – staring at his bowl looking confused
- Me – “Cauliflower.”
- Jelani – “Oh, cool!” and then polishes off his bowl before getting a second serving.
This is a vegan, alfredo-inspired sauce that aims to cause confusion. Feel free to use whatever pasta you want here, from the traditional fettuccini noodles to the farfalle that I used (because it was the only pasta I had left in the pantry) to whole wheat and gluten-free.
I also add in some peas because creamy and peas go hand-in-hand in my mind. Also, I just love peas and always have several bags of them in the freezer. When I do have fresh, I give them a quick blanch before adding them to the pasta and sauce. Because Paxton decided to eat half of the fresh peas as we were shelling them, I only had about a cup and a half. So I blanched and cut some romano beans into pea-size pieces to add in as well.
Bring a well-seasoned pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Don’t forget to reserve some of that pasta water!
While the water is coming to a boil, combine some cauliflower florets and a cup of plain, unsweetened almond milk in a pot or pan with a lid. Cook, covered, until the cauliflower is fork-tender, about 10 minutes depending on the size of the florets. For small cut florets, begin checking sooner.
I have only tried this recipe with almond milk because that is usually what I have on hand. Feel free to try it out with your favorite plain, unsweetened nondairy milk.
When the cauliflower is ready to go, pour the florets and the almond milk into a blender. Add some garlic, miso paste, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, paprika, and a tiny pinch of cayenne for a hint of a kick. Normally, I add a splash or two of olive oil into the blender as well. But this time when I made it, I forgot and honestly didn’t even notice that it was missing. So if you want to go oil-free for this recipe, go for it (it is listed as optional in the recipe below)! Otherwise, go ahead and add a good splash of olive oil into the blender.
Blend until smooth, adding in a little of the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the sauce back into the pot either the cauliflower or pasta was cooked in and add the cooked pasta and peas. Stir and add in a little more reserved pasta water if needed. Cook over low heat for a minute to give the pasta time to soak in a little of the sauce and to allow the flavors to meld.
Spoon into bowls, top with a little fresh parsley, and enjoy!
Pasta with Cauliflower “Alfredo” and Peas
- 1 pound pasta of your choice
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1.5 pounds)
- 2 – 3 cups peas (if fresh, quickly blanch them and thaw if using frozen)
- 1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk (or another plain, unsweetened nondairy milk of your choice)
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 1 ½ tsp white or yellow miso paste
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp sweet paprika
- tiny pinch of cayenne (optional)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Bring a well-seasoned pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Reserve some of the pasta water.
- Put the almond milk, cauliflower florets, and a good pinch of salt in a pot or pan with a lid and cook until the cauliflower is fork-tender, about 10 minutes depending on how large you cut your florets.
- When the cauliflower is ready, put the cauliflower and almond milk into a blender and add the garlic, miso paste, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, paprika, cayenne (if using), and a splash of olive oil (also optional). Blend until smooth, adding in a little of the reserved pasta water as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the sauce, cooked pasta, and thawed or blanched peas into a pot over low heat, stir, and give the pasta a minute to soak up the sauce.
- Scoop into bowls, top with a little fresh parsley, and dig in! Enjoy!