Ze Best Cauliflower Alfredo Recipe
Like I said in my last post and on Instagram, early January is always a tough part of the year for me. The last few weeks I spend indulging and getting presents, and now I have nothing but that old, pestering sense of guilt that has been haunting my eating habits since I was a teenager. And now that all the delicious holiday food is moldy or eaten, I get to throw my Christmas tree into the garbage as I listen to everybody talk about weight loss. I hate talking about weight loss. I think it’s fine to want to improve your eating habits, and I think it’s awesome to get more into fitness, and therefore I think it’s fine to lose weight because of the results of those two things. But I’d personally rather watch watch 24 straight hours of Mark “The Science Teacher” Wahlberg in M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening than consider losing weight to be a January necessity for the whole universe because we all had a couple of extra cookies. It should stem from a rational desire, not a guilt trip, and not just because Weight Watchers is pumping out more commercials right now. And you know what? Just because I’m saying this doesn’t mean I’m not having trouble with it all right now. I am. I totally want to lose five pounds, because I’m not stronger than this shit sometimes, and the Oprah Weight Watcher commercials have nestled into my brain like a parasite.
As for the rest of my life right now? It's great, except here’s nothing but Lady Gaga’s Superbowl performance to look forward to. It’s icy and snowy out now, instead of during the holidays, when it was 50 degrees out. And who gives a shit about ANY of this when Paul “the Time Photoshoot” Ryan is talking about defunding Planned Parenthood?!
So because my life is a zucchini, spiralizing out of control, I decided now is the time to eat pasta, rant on the internet, and perfect my cauliflower alfredo recipe.
For the last half of 2016, I’ve been trying to cut dairy out of my diet significantly because it’s good for the environment and it’s also very good for my skin. I’ve made lots of dairy-free recipes with lots of substitutes, and they all turn out pretty good. One of my favorite tricks for getting creamy sauces and salad dressings without dairy is to soak a ½ cup of raw, unsalted cashews overnight in water. It creates a super creamy base that is, for lack of a better phrase, 24 karat magic, which is in this recipe title because my mom loves the (also Puerto Rican) Bruno Mars SO MUCH.
Now, I’ve seen and made plenty of cauliflower alfredos, but they always kind of taste like watery mashed cauliflower to me. And none of them add cashews to their recipe, which I decided to do because I know it makes things even more creamy. And alas! It worked. Now I can have one of my favorite meals from THE OLIVE GARDEN (which I actually used to love as a kid) and still eat vegetables and feel good about all the vitamins I'm getting. I share my recipe here:
Alida's 24 Karat Magic Dairy-Free Alfredo
Ingredients (makes around 4-6 servings):
-3 cups frozen cauliflower
-1 cup unsweetened almond milk
-3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (or use more milk if you want)
-1/2 a small white onion
-2 garlic cloves
-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-Juice of 1/2 a lemon
-1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight in water and drained/rinsed
-salt and pepper to taste
What Do I Do Now?! Help ME!
-Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until fragrant and translucent, around 3 minutes.
-Boil or microwave the frozen cauliflower until soft and cooked through.
-Add all the ingredients except the vegetable broth to a blender and purée the shit out of it, until a sauce is made!
-Add the broth slowly to reach your desired consistency. Sometimes I use all of it, and sometimes I need a little more. It just depends on what you're feeling. It's better to leave it on the thicker side though, as it's easier to thin it out with pasta water than it is to make it thicker.
-Season to taste, and serve with pasta!
Important Notes: This recipe blends easiest in a high-powered blender, but I've made it with a regular one and it just takes a little longer. Don't worry about that. I serve this with brown rice pasta, but fettuccine noodles are usually the most fun. Either way, I always reserve around 1/2 cup of the pasta water to add in as I see fit when I mix the pasta into the sauce. That's why I suggest the sauce be a bit thicker rather than too thin. This is a good tip for any pasta sauce recipe. Also, in this specific instance, I don't call this a "vegan" recipe because I added chicken and peas to the final dish. I've also made this with no meat and just broccoli, which is how I suggest you make it, as let's all eat less meat for 2017! And finally, if you must know, yes you can use regular milk instead of non-dairy and yes, you can use parmesan instead of nutritional yeast. But nutritional yeast is delicious, full of vitamin B12, and is a great thing to put on top of pasta and on popcorn and on avocado toast. Don't be scared of it!