Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce


Greetings and happy stormy Wednesday.

While I'm on the series of things to love about summer, let's talk about a good thunderstorm.  (Of course, barring injuries or damage)

I think it all stems from my ever-growing appreciation for Mother Nature and her awesome works.  I just love all of the seasons and the beauty that they bring, a glorious sunny summer day, a brisk, colorful day in fall, a gorgeous snowfall in winter and the fresh, new green of spring.

A good crack of lightning to light up the whole sky, followed by some serious rumbling of thunder, that you can feel in your chest ranks right up there with some of my favorite things.  (My kids would fear that I would launch into song after using that phrase…they are probably right!)

Perhaps the greatest is the reminder is how small we are in this universe and how powerful the forces of natures can be…perhaps it only helps my appreciation for all of the natural wonders to grow!

A day like this lends it itself to some comfort food and recently Jerry requested pasta and Alfredo sauce.

If you haven't gathered by now, I'm a huge fan of taste, texture, flavor and healthy meals.  So, of course, Alfredo sauce isn't really on my radar until it dawned on me to use pureed cauliflower, as that has been all of the rage lately as a healthy alternate for potatoes and creamy soups.

Let me start by saying that everyone in the family ate and enjoyed the Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce over Penne pasta with chicken and grilled asparagus.

Whenever I switch things up like this, I don't generally advertise it too much before the meal, as I prefer  to minimize any preconceived notions, just try it with an open mind.

Since my dad was in town and he isn't very subtle, (not shocking to anyone who knows him) the kids new it was Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce going into it, but they wouldn't have even guessed it.

It was creamy and delicious and almost everyone had seconds.

Now, without further ado, let me share with you the recipe and process for whipping this up yourself.


One whole head of cauliflower was steamed until quite tender for ease of blending and achieving the smooth, creaminess of sauce.  When it was drained, I kept the 1 cup of leftover cooking broth to ultimately add to the blender.

I was a bit surprised by how much liquid was required in order to really thin and smooth out the sauce, but that is my favorite part of creating recipes is going with the flow!  

Generally, I do have an initial plan in mind, even jotted down on paper, but am happy to add and adjust ingredients as necessary upon tasting…much like my days of commercial product development.  

OK, back to the blender.

In total, 1 cup of whole milk, 1/2 stick of butter, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, 1 cup of cooking broth were added to the cauliflower and it was ready to whirl! An additional cup or two of water was added as necessary to thin the sauce, but I wouldn't recommended adding it right away.  

Now, since this was my first attempt at a cauliflower-based anything, I will admit I was a bit nervous.  But, in the event of a complete failure, I did have a jar of the store bought stuff as a back up, so really…just do it!  


Let me tell you, it worked like a charm and any near nerves over this were totally unwarranted.

As you can see, the blender was pretty full, so there was more than enough sauce to feed the 6 of us.


From the blender, to the sauce pan for heating and tweaking.  

My guest taster (aka dad) thought it needed a little more body, so more Parmesan was added, equalling a cup total.  That was the final tweak and we were ready to roll!


To complete the meal, 2# of chicken tenders (certainly could have been more…it's like I forget how much my family growing family eats) and 1# of grilled asparagus were added to the sauce and served over pasta.

I also threw some fresh basil on top, but I imagine that would have been amazing in the sauce, all blended up, as well!

I'll probably add a basil/pesto twist to it the next time I make it!  


RECIPE:

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 whole head of cauliflower - steamed
1 cup of leftover cooking broth
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 stick of butter
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 cup of grated Parmesan (separated)
1-2 cups of additional water - added as necessary in the blending process.  

2# of chicken tenders
1# of grilled asparagus
2# pasta (1# gluten free, 1# traditional)

Directions:

Steam cauliflower in 1 cup of water, reserve water for sauce.  
To blender, add cauliflower, cooking broth, milk, butter, garlic, 1/2 cup Parmesan.  
Blend until smooth, adding additional water as necessary.  

Return to sauce pan to warm, add additional 1/2 cup Parmesan.  

Add cooked, chopped chicken and asparagus to sauce, keep warm until serving over pasta.