Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vegan Alfredo Sauce

Historically, I've always been pretty much a rule-follower when it comes to the kitchen. When I got married almost 6 years ago, I knew almost nothing about food. After a year of frozen pizza and chicken cordon-bleu, along with 60+ lbs. of pregnancy weight-gain, I started to gradually learn to cook.

I learned that I LOVED to read cookbooks. We would go to Barnes and Noble for date-night and I would sit there reading recipes. Before the birth of my second child, I bought a cookbook called "The Domestic Goddess" by Nigella Lawson. I can say that is probably my official turning point. (Although my neighbors Amanda and Chrissy in FL were huge influences in the right direction too.)
I started cooking like crazy. I followed cooking blogs. I tried new recipes pretty much every night, carefully studying the pictures and ingredients. We had our health food kicks and our not-so-health-food-kicks (McDonald's, anyone?), but I was in love with cooking.

I still am. After going vegan last September (more on that later) and committing permanently to a more difficult, healthy, and rewarding food lifestyle, I am in the kitchen more than ever. With that has come lots of experience and lots more confidence.

So I am proud to introduce my first ever recipe that I came up with on my own. I took inspiration from Chloe's Kitchen's alfredo sauce and Cupcakes and Kale's high-protein alfredo sauce, but I can truly say this is MY recipe. It's my first food-child, and I am oh so proud. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Steph's Vegan Alfredo Sauce

2/3 c. raw cashews
1/2 head cauliflower
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 tsp. jarred minced garlic
1 tsp. white miso paste
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. almond milk
dash pepper
1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
1 lb. fettucine or other pasta

First, put RAW cashews into a small bowl. Do NOT use roasted or salted cashews. Raw cashews are the absolute best vegan substitute for heavy cream, and you won't be able to tell the difference at ALL. Roasted cashews will not work. You can find raw ones most decent grocery stores - I get them in my bulk bin section at Smith's or at Whole Foods. (If you have a super high-power blender, like a Vitamix, this step isn't totally necessary, but still recommended.) Cover them completely with water and let soak at least one hour or up to overnight. It will soften them up and make them blend into a smooth, creamy consistency with no little nut chunks in your sauce!

Bring large pot of heavily salted (I put in a good Tbsp or more) water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.

Chop cauliflower into large florets and bring a small-ish pot of water to a boil.

Add cauliflower florets and cook 15-20 minutes, until soft. Drain. Meanwhile, heat skillet over med-high heat. Add chopped onion and let cook until soft. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes, until onions are transluscent. Remove from heat.

A word about white miso paste: this sounds like a strange ingredient but is widely available - I find mine in the refrigerated produce section at Smith's near the tofu and mushrooms. It's kind of like chicken base of the Japanese world, I think, and adds a bit of a salty/cheesy flavor when combined with the nutritional yeast. It's high in protein and has lots of vitamins and minerals.

A word about nutritional yeast: this is NOT normal baking/leavening yeast. It comes in flake form, usually, and is a yellowish-brown color. It smells a little bad and I don't like it in large quantities (vegan mac'n'cheese is usually full of it and I don't love it) but when combined with miso it's JUST right. (I also use that same combo to make tofu ricotta chese for my lasagna, which will be coming soon on this blog.) Again, it's not too hard to find - it's just not a common ingredient. Don't let it put you off though - it's fun to experiment with new, strange ingredients! I promise, it will be worth it.

Okay, so in your blender dump everything but the pasta. Soaked and soft raw cashews, cooked cauliflower, sauteed onion and garlic, white miso paste, nutritional yeast, juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 Tbsp, give or take), sea salt, pepper, water, and almond milk. (If you are not vegan - like all the other sisters here but me - you could use regular cow's milk. I haven't tried it so I can't vouch for any difference it might make in the flavor, but please don't forgo this recipe just because you don't have almond milk!) Blend on high about 2 minutes until silky smooth. Taste for salt - you might want to add more.

Toss hot pasta with sauce until every noodle is coated with deliciousness. (Add sauce to your liking - it made more than enough for about a pound cooked pasta, so you may have some leftover sauce.) Serve immediately.

We had this with garlic bread and roasted broccoli. Delicious, and just as good the next day as leftovers!


  1. This looks so yummy!! I need to try it. Thou persuadest me to be a vegan! :)

  2. I tried this the other night! AMAZING! Thank you for the recipe