Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creamy Cauliflower Spaghetti Alfredo - Delicious and Not Scary

Those nutrition labels on food do not easily frighten me. But, one label that always takes my breath away is that of heavy whipping cream. The fat and calories are staggering, yet nothing compares to its indescribable effect on a recipe.

Those of you who made the chocolate mousse know what I'm talking about. It's the quintessential special occasion ingredient. So, when the craving
struck for a nice spaghetti with Alfredo sauce recently, I decided to try an alternative to the 4,000-calorie all-cream version, and grabbed a head of cauliflower.

If there was a game (called "Oppafoodosites") where someone yells out a food word, and you have to yell back the complete opposite - "cauliflower" would be my response to "heavy cream." But, as you'll see in this video recipe, the creamy cauliflower puree, with just a small splash of cream, makes
a beautiful sauce.

I also love the dusting of crispy Parmesan breadcrumbs that top this delicious pasta. I used the very fine, dry breadcrumbs instead of the larger homemade crumbs you've seen me use in other videos, since I wanted a very fine, almost gritty texture to top the creamy sauce.

This cauliflower spaghetti Alfredo is a great "bridge" recipe, helping us transition from rich, decadent Valentine's offerings to much leaner winter fare. This tastes and feels very rich, but is actually quite light. Enjoy!




Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cored, cut in large pieces
1/2 tsp dried Italian herb blend
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 cups water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
for topping:
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/3 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
2 tbsp any chopped fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano, basil, etc)
14-oz box spaghetti, cooked and drained
1/2 lemon, juiced


For another similar, and equally delicious cauliflower pasta video recipe, check out this oldie, but goody: Cauliflower Spaghetti “Aglio Olio"



* Please help support free video recipes, and visit my new sponsor, MOZO Shoes. Find out why chefs (like me) are buzzing about their great shoes!

43 comments:

Mike said...

Very odd yet looks delicious, Chef John.

texichan said...

This looks absolutely delicious. I want it in my stomach, right now. And, agreed, wheat pasta is gross. I like this stuff.

Jen said...

I will definitely put this recipe on the week's menu. I'm trying to stick with the dietary practice of food combining; and this recipe looks like it'll fit in perfectly. Thanks. I do find "whole wheat" pasta's texture to be unappealing. Barilla whole grain pasta's different?

Chef John said...

yes, it tastes pretty much like regular pasta

Noshzilla Kat said...

Yay! Can't wait to try this...caught your video on YT. I adore cauliflower!

I came up with a great recipe for making a 'mashed' cauliflower which (imho) totally blows potatoes away. This is cream optional too, I just use a bit of olive oil and veggie broth and the secret ingredient is adding half of one caramelized onion.

PukaDog said...

Just discovered Foodwishes-dot-com. This could be a very good year. What a fantastic blog! After a few months of Foodwishes instruction I may well be able to forego my "Man and a Can with a Plan" (as well as the follow-up "Man and a Can and a Microwave") cookbook.

Question: how is a food wish submitted for potential posting on how it's done properly prepared by Chef John? Is there a separate email address for that or am I overlooking a link on the right side of the webpage?

childsdish said...

Nosh-Kat,
Have you tried Chef John's recipe for potato cauliflower mash? It's really good, too!

Chef John said...

you can email it on the "Contact" page (check the menu in sidebar) or leave it in one of these comments. Of course, a large donation is customary!

Kim said...

Oh wow... that looks delish, and I do not enjoy cauliflower normally. I think I will need to make it with the kitchen door closed and see what the family thinks. (if they knew what was in it I don't think they would try it with an open mind :)
Thank you Chef John for another rut breaking recipie!

*SpArKy* said...

just made this for dinner - somehow I had every ingredient conveniently in my fridge. Its fantastic! I'm training for a marathon and this is a perfect recipe for me (can't have tomato sauce 'cause it gives me heartburn when I run, and avoiding regular alfredo 'cause of the fat content). Now I can carbo-load in style!

Reed said...

This looks so damn good, I can't believe going nearly-cream-free is that easy.

Quite a website you've got here sir, I too just found you through youtube. Though I'm a new attendee to your postings, I'm quickly burning through your old catalogue. I humbly encourage the idea of more branches thrown the vegetarian way.

Anonymous said...

Why does this happen to me? I just made mixed mushrooms alfredo sauce with penne. I just went to your blog and guess what?? You made something healthier for something I craved. Chef John...you rock dude!

John

seryph07 said...

I made this tonight, and it was ridiculously, disgustingly, delicious. How's that for a mix of adjectives?
I added half a cup of cream by the way, because I like fat, what can I say.
Thanks Chef John for this delicious recipe!

daniel said...

You make me sad at night knowing I will not be eating this before bed.

Stephanie said...

Hey Chef, can the left over sauce be frozen?

Chef John said...

yes u can

Granny said...

My mother-in-law used to make a peasant dish with cauliflower. She fried chopped onions in olive oil until translucent and added cooked cauliflower with some of the liquid and let that simmer while the spaghetti, which she broke in half, cooked. Tossed all together with lots of grated Italian cheese.
I will have to try your recipe, looks wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Chef John
I am a Chinese, but I really love your recipe. your food is yummy and beautiful
It is impolite and impropriate to ask here. Do you have general meat sauce recipe for spaghetti, because I can't find it.thank you

Chef John said...

I've never posted a meat sauce recipe. I will sometime, but may have to change for that one! ;-)

gina c said...

i HAVE to try this one! it looks delicious.

K said...

This looks totally fabulous. I bet HungryGirl would approve :> Any chance you could do a quick caloric comparison on some of these recipe swaps?

K said...

This looks totally fabulous. I bet HungryGirl would approve :> Any chance you could do a quick caloric comparison on some of these recipe swaps?

Nata said...

It was delicious!!!

Kristy said...

I'm a huge heavy cream fan and not so much a cauliflower fan, but I can definitely see the appeal of this dish. I can't wait to try it!

texichan said...

I've a friend who's lactose intolerant - I'm sure that there's no substitute for the Parmesan, but as far as the cream goes - can she thicken it with anything else? (silken tofu, soy milk, something like that?). I understand if not, but if so, what's the best option, do you think?

Chef John said...

I've never used any of those soy products so I'm not sure. I believe they make milk for lactose intolerant people, don't they? You can just leave it out, it doesnt really effect the thickness.

Dave said...

Thanks as always Chef! Someone actually already asked my question (can i make a big pot of sauce and freeze), and you answered yes. So lets take it a step futher...

Always looking for ways to avoid the expensive takeout on those too-busy-to-cook evenings, and you can't beat leftovers for lunch. Always love leftovers but am wearey about making too much and freezing if it will end up ruinning it. Do you have a list of "favorites for freezing" from your website recipes? Or, do you have any hard and fast rules for the do's and don't of freezing. Given that we're all tightening our belts nowadays, could make for a timely post!

Same question to all you other loyal fans... any favorite Chef John recipes for freezing? -Thanks!

Chef John said...

sorry to disappoint, but I almost never freeze food. After eating once and then the leftovers another day, it's usually gone. I know the cabbage rolls freeze well, as does any dough. Also, any soup or chili freezes.

MegamiMoon said...

I've made this twice already. The sauce is so smooth and creamy, I didn't miss the calories at all. I also love that when you microwave the leftovers the next day, the sauce stays nice and consistent, doesn't separate into a greasy mess like most alfredo sauces. The crispy, cheesy breadcrumb topping compliments this dish perfectly. Delicious! Thanks Chef John! =)

Chef John said...

My pleasure!!

fherrero said...

I have to admit that you have taught me to cook like a chef. I love your cooking videos. I even tried your thanksgiving turkey and it was beautiful. My family couldn't believe that I was able to cook. I'll never tell them that you're the man behind my stove! Thanks.

Andrea said...

Hi Chef John, pardon me if this question is a little odd... I don't have an immersion blender like the one you used. What can i substitute with? Thanks!

Chef John said...

just use a regular blender in small batches.

Chan said...

Hi Chef!

For the topping, will it taste as good if I were to use the ready-made bread crumbs used for frying?

Can how many servings does this recipe serve?

Am cooking this for a Christmas party this weekend! Can't wait to try it out =)

Chef John said...

can't answer 1st question, it's subjective, but this serves about 4.

LibStre said...

I can't believe I just ate cauliflower, and my kids consumed it, too. This was a great alternative to a traditional alfredo...and a much lighter, guiltless option as well.

Anonymous said...

Delish! I made this tonight for dinner and can't believe that cauliflower is the base for this sauce. Chef John you are amazing!

Thank you for sharing. Glad I found your blog.

Miff Mole said...

Love your stuff Chef but this, Ugh. Alfredo is a cream sauce for a reason. I was able to convert this to soup so, no waste.

Anonymous said...

Chef John could I use frozen cauliflower instead of fresh and if so how much?

LibStre said...

Cauliflower has, historically, been one of my least favorite (actually, loathesome) vegetables to consume. However, I have had 100% success with all of your recipes and thought that, perhaps, this one would cure me of my cauliflower hatred. My oldest daughter also loves alfredo (I typically dislike it almost to the degree of cauliflower), but I was willing to try this recipe because of my love for her and the fact that I have had a 100% success rate with you recipes and teaching videos. The results: this recipe is a family and guest favorite! Everyone for whom I prepared this (including me) has not been able to get over the fact that the sauce is primarily cauliflower...and that it could taste so good and develop such a rich texture. I was also intrigued by the fact that you used Barilla whole grain pasta. A friend of mine is diabetic and can only have this type of pasta; so, between wanting to make this for her and the fact that you recommended it, I had to try it. So, we'll finish up our stock of regular pasta and occassionally make our own from scratch; but, moving forward, its looking to be Barilla whole grain. Who knew it could be so good!

Cindy Kell said...

perked my intrest so I made it. I thought the taste was odd, but my husband liked it. Thanks for your videos, you've taught me much!

DevilsAdvocate said...

Hola Chef J,

Would using a chicken stock in place of water really change the flavor much?

I thought about using 2 or 3 cups of homemade chicken stock to create the cauliflower cream sauce.

As always, thanks for such a great site.

Best!

Maranatha Mama said...

Romano is a good substitute for those who cannot use Parmesan. The former is made from sheep milk, the latter, from cow's milk. My husband is lactose intolerant, I am sensitive to casein & Romano works for both of us.