Monday, January 28, 2013

Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli

Some classics are better left alone.  Some can be tweaked and still be good.  And some can be completely transformed completely and turn out just as good, if not better than the original.  
I am a big fan of fettuccine alfredo but I'm not a fan of the solid rock that forms in my stomach approximately 30 minutes after eating it.  When it hits, it hits hard and then I have a nagging reminder just how many calories I just consumed.  But I love the taste and I love the change of pace from a traditional red sauce.  
Let me introduce you to my new favorite compromise, a healthier version using cauliflower.  If you're skeptical, it's okay, I was too.  I have no doubt Wes was nervous and counting the hours until this meal was behind us.  Thankfully, we were both wrong.  This was light, creamy, and no detectable cauliflower taste.  The boys lapped it up without blinking and were none the wiser to the added veggies.  I even brought some in for some coworkers, whom I could tell were skeptical when I described it.  They both enjoyed it as well.  I think this one is a keeper.  I encourage you to give it a try and see if you can fool your dinner companions as well.  

Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo                                        {Print it!}
inspired by Pinch of Yum

What you'll need:

1 lb fettuccine noodles (preferably whole grain, brown rice, or quinoa)
1 large head cauliflower
6 cups vegetable broth
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 T. olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup pasta water reserved from cooking noodles
1 lb broccoli


Coarsely chop cauliflower into small chunks.  Bring the broth to a boil over medium heat and add cauliflower.  Cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes.  (The longer you cook it, the smoother your sauce will be.)  

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and saute 4-5 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.

As the garlic and cauliflower are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the fettuccine according to package directions, being sure to reserve a cupful for later.  

Bring another pot of water to a boil and steam broccoli for 4-5 minutes until crisp tender.

Transfer cauliflower and about 2 cups of liquid to a blender (a Vita-Mix is helpful for a super smooth consistency).  You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your blender.  Add the sauteed garlic, salt, nutmeg, and pepper and puree until very smooth.  Once the mixture is moving, stream a little olive oil into the blender.  Add more broth or water if the mixture is too thick to move through the blender.  When puree is very smooth, transfer back to the garlic saute pan.

Add the cream and cook over low heat.  Add the pasta water (I didn't need nearly a full cup) and keep warm until ready to serve.  Add noodles to pan if pan is large enough, or transfer to a large pot or pan to combine.  Top with steamed broccoli before serving.

Serves 6

**Linking up to Jam Hands Recipe Sharing Monday, Show Me Your Plaid Mondays, Whole Food Wednesdays, and Fine Craft Guild.  


  1. Wow! I am amazed that cauliflower is the secret ingredient here! I love alfredo sauce so definitely need to try this.

  2. Hi Danielle! What a great recipe. We love alfredo, and I've been looking for a healthier version for some time now. Thank you for sharing. This post was a bright way to warm up a my cold Tuesday morning. I hope you have a wonderful week!

  3. What a unique concept! This does sound really good. I will have to give it a try!Thanks for sharing at Show Me Your Plaid Monday's!

  4. Love this idea! I've recently starting using my food processor to chop cauliflower very finely and then sauteeing with the tineiest bit of EVOO in a non-stick pan until golden and using instead of rice with our stir fry dishes.