Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce with Pasta

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When I create a recipe, I’m always thinking about what different versions of a dish I can suggest to different groups of people.

For instance, sometimes I think about how to make my vegetarian recipes “meaty.”

Or I might toss out some ideas about how to make a dish more family-friendly (something adults can enjoy that kids will also eat!).

I love when—with just a few tweaks—you can make a couple of versions of a meal at the same time, so everyone is satisfied.

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And it’s always a bonus if we get our kids to eat their veggies!

This Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce is one of the most melt-in-your-mouth pasta sauces I’ve ever made.

And I honestly can’t tell the difference between this version and the full-on-million-calorie version.

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Actually, I can tell the difference, oh-so-slightly. And I’m not lying when I say I like this one better.

It’s garlicky, cheesy, and creamy—as you would expect.

But the cauliflower adds a whole new element that deepens the flavor and literally makes you want to eat the sauce with a spoon (nooooo, I’ve never done that 😉).

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And by dividing the sauce in two and adding parsley and pepper to one half and peas to the other, you’ve got a dish that makes both parents and kids happy.

Grownup version: linguine, parsley + freshly ground black pepper.

Grownup version: linguine, parsley + freshly ground black pepper.

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce with Pasta

servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, broken or cut into bite-size florets (about 5 to 6 cups)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound pasta shells
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Directions:

  1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the pasta shells. To a second large pot, add the cauliflower, chicken stock, and garlic. Bring this mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and cook until the cauliflower is very soft—10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a blender and add the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, heavy cream, salt, and pepper, and puree until very smooth.
  3. When the water boils, add the pasta shells and cook according to the package directions; drain when done.
  4. To serve, fold the cauliflower sauce and the peas into the pasta.

Notes:

  • The kid’s version is delicious! But if you want to make it a little more adult, replace the pasta shells with linguine. And instead of folding peas in with the cauliflower sauce, fold in about 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Divide among four bowls and top with parsley and freshly ground black pepper. Voilà!
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

Find more recipes like this in Meat on the Side!

 

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Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls

Check out the recipe for my Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls from my book Meat On The Side...

Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls

servings: 6 Spring Rolls + 1 Cup Dipping Sauce

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:

  • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles (2 ounces)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, (green parts only)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half (6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • 2½ cups lightly packed cabbage slaw mix (from the supermarket)
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 flour egg roll wrappers
  • Canola oil, for frying

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:

  1. Put the blue cheese crumbles in a small bowl, breaking up the pieces if they are bigger larger than ¼ inch. Add the sour cream, buttermilk, scallions, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls:

  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper evenly all over the chicken. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through—, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 2 to 3 minutes; then chop it into ½-inch pieces.
  2. To make the filling, placePut the cream cheese and hot sauce in a large microwave-safe bowl; and microwave on high until the cheese is has slightly softened slightly—, 15 to 20 seconds—. and then wWhisk the mixture them tountil well gethercombined. . It (This mixture does not have to be perfectly smooth; it’s okay to have some lumps.) Add the chicken, slaw mix, celery, scallions, cilantro, garlic powder, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the bowl and stir until well combined.
  3. Arrange the egg roll wrappers on a work surface, orienting each so one corner points toward you (making a diamond shape). Have ready a small bowl of water and a pastry brush. Make the rolls one at a time: Spoon about ½ cup of the filling onto the center and then brush a little water onto the margins. Fold up the bottom corner over the filling; then fold up each side corner. Then roll the filled wrapper over on itself toward the top corner.
  4. Pour oil into a small or medium heavy-bottomed saucepan to a depth of at least 2 inches (but not more than halfway up the sides). Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the oil to 375°F; (use a candy thermometer to register the temperature). Working in small batches, fry the rolls until they are golden brown on all sides—. 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer each batch to a paper- towel– lined plate to drain.
  5. Serve the rolls hot with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce.

Notes:

  • don’t always have buttermilk on hand, and although it adds a little extra tang to the dipping sauce, it can easily be replaced with any milk or cream you keep have in your fridge.
  • 50/50 - With all the flavor going on in these spring rolls, you will not miss the meat if you prefer a vegetarian appetizer—there are many times I choose to serve them meatless. To make half the recipe meatless, use only 3 ounces chicken, but add an extra ½ cup slaw mix; (don’t add the chicken to the filling until after you’ve made 3 vegetarian rolls. Or to go totally meat-free, and simply replace all the chicken with an extra cup of the slaw mix.
  • FF - Kids aren’t big fans of blue cheese? Leave it out for a scallion– sour cream dressing. Also to tone down the spicy taste, cut the amount of hot sauce to 3 tablespoons and use 5 ounces of cream cheese instead for a milder version.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Pumpkin-Poblano Pasta with Baby Bok Choy + Shrimp

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Fall is on its way, and I'm definitely already starting to see all things pumpkin popping up—from pumpkin lattes to pumpkin pancakes to pumpkin [fill-in-the-blank].

I am in full support of the pumpkin movement, but I find that all these things have a similar flavor.

Don't get me wrong: I love pumpkin, but I also know it can be paired with more than just cinnamon.

Because of this, I wanted to share this Pumpkin-Poblano Pasta from my book Meat On The Side. It combines pumpkin puree with peppers and shrimp for a creamy, sweet, and spicy sauce.

And the entire recipe only uses ten ingredients and is done in about the time it takes for the pasta to cook!

Pumpkin-Poblano Pasta with Baby Bok Choy + Shrimp

servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 poblano chile
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 3 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 4 baby bok choys, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 16 jumbo shrimp (16/20 size), peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions (green parts only)
  • ¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  1. Use the broiler or gas burner on the stovetop to roast the poblano: Simply place it under or over the flame (use tongs if you’re working on the stovetop) and cook until mostly black on all sides—5 to 8 minutes, turning as needed. Place the poblano in a plastic food storage bag; seal the bag. When the poblano is cool, rub off the skin with a paper towel. Cut the poblano open lengthwise and then remove its stem and seeds.
  2. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the pasta. While it is heating, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the shallots and garlic and sauté until tender—about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and 1 teaspoon of the salt until incorporated; then stir in the pumpkin, mixing well, and cook for 3 minutes more.
  3. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a food processor or blender. Add the poblano and process to a smooth puree. Spoon the mixture back into the skillet. Stir in about two-thirds of the cheese along with the nutmeg and cinnamon (you’ll use the rest of the cheese for a garnish). Keep the skillet over low heat while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Cook the pasta in the now-boiling water until al dente according to the package directions. When it is done, drain it, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a second large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the bok choy, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and cook until tender—3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the bok choy to a medium bowl. Add the shrimp to the same skillet and sprinkle them with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; sauté until pink—about 5 minutes, turning once. Return the bok choy to the skillet and heat through.
  6. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the pumpkin sauce; toss to coat the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta cooking water until it has your desired consistency.
  7. Serve immediately, dividing the pasta among 4 dinner plates and topping each portion with one-quarter of the bok choy and 4 shrimp. Scatter the scallions, pumpkin seeds, and remaining cheese evenly over the tops.

Notes:

  • Keep It Simple - (1) Substitute kale, radicchio, or cabbage for the bok choy. (2) Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream instead of the goat cheese. Also add a sprinkle of Parmesan to bump up the flavor if you have it on hand. (3) If you don’t want to bother with roasting the poblano chile, simply seed and chop it, and then sauté it with the shallots and garlic: a quick alternative for a similar taste.
  • 50/50 - This pasta is as good without shrimp as it is with; simply omit the shrimp to give vegetarians a satisfying meal. If you’re making some veggie versions and some shrimp ones, just cook the shrimp separately and add to the plates you want.
  • Family Friendly - Leave off the bok choy for pickier eaters, or puree it up with the rest of the pumpkin-poblano mixture and they will never know it’s in there.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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