Quite a long time ago now, I had my appendix removed. I was a freshman in high school, and started with a stomach ache. However, I was a Full House aficionado, and was pretty sure from the get go that I had appendicitis. It was miserable. I was in pain, and anesthesia did not agree with me — I woke up from surgery convinced that they hadn’t removed my appendix because it still hurt, ignoring the fact that I’d just had abdominal surgery. Anyway, recovery was pretty standard: a few days in the hospital followed by a week on my couch. The only issue was they had me in the pediatric wing. At fifteen, I was a growing teenager. After days of not eating, I was finally cleared for real food and they gave me meals sized for a six year old. Depressing, I know. By the time I got home, the only thing I wanted was a big bowl of fettuccine alfredo. Pasta and cream and cheese…it was the perfect recovery food!
Even now, alfredo is a guilty pleasure comfort food. To make it more of an everyday, less indulgent meal, though, I knew what to do: add cauliflower! I know, I know, adding cauliflower to things is all the rage right now and I’m hardly a forerunner on this front. But ever since I first made cauliflower mac and cheese, I knew the alfredo would be just as good! And after I saw Val’s cauliflower pizza crust last week, I was inspired to actually get into my kitchen and make it.
Now that I have, I can’t believe it took me so long to try this! It was no more difficult than my mac and cheese, and it was just so tasty. As always, the cauliflower puree gave the sauce a luscious mouthfeel, and the cheese, butter, and wine elevated the flavor to alfredo-y goodness. I asked my husband what he thought and after he replied that he was a fan, our friend announced that he had forgotten there was cauliflower in it till I mentioned it; I’ll take that as an indication of success! Overall, this isn’t identical to traditional alfredo, but it is so good and so healthified, I don’t think anyone will complain!
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 cup skim milk, heated
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup white wine
- 1/3 – 1 cup starchy cooking water (from pasta)
- 1 tbsp butter
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb brown rice pasta
- Place cauliflower in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until tender.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower from the boiling water. Keep water on the stove, boiling.
- Puree the cauliflower with the heated milk in a food processor until smooth.
- Salt the boiling water, and cook pasta one minute short of al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a little olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent, add garlic, and sauté until fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and reduce by half (about 2 – 3 minutes).
- Add cauliflower puree and butter to the onion mixture. Stir to combine, and add about 1/3 cup water to thin out the sauce. Add cheese, nutmeg, and black pepper and stir until the cheese is melted.
- Stir the cooked pasta into the cauliflower mixture. If it seems too thick, add more starchy cooking liquid until you reach the desired consistency.
- Serve hot, with extra cheese and ground pepper as desired.