A Lighter Zucchini Cauliflower Alfredo
June 02, 2016
Categories: Dinner, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dishes, Dairy, Cheese, Vegetables, Cauliflower, Italian, North American, Budget-Friendly, Kid Pleaser, Quick Meals, Entertaining, Ladies Luncheon, Summer, Weeknight Meals, Blender, Stove Top, Heart Healthy, Vegetarian, Processed Cheese, Zucchini, Spring, Kosher Dairy more
"A good friend of mine recently learned; she really had to cut back on certain foods. Now, although she loves her creamy pasta sauces; I made this for her - and she absolutely loved it. I realize it isn't as decadent as the classic alfredo; however, it is pretty darn tasty. And, I don't take away all the fat; but, overall - this is a pretty 'healthy and creamy' pasta dish. You do need a spiralizer for this recipe to make the zucchini noodles. But, there are many inexpensive brands out there - mine cost about $15. By adding fresh herbs and nuts; you really can create a rich sauce; with a lot less calories. You could always top the pasta with a grilled chicken breast or shrimp. Don't forget a green salad on the side. FYI, even kids like this dish."
- FOR ALFREDO SAUCE (makes 3 cups)
- Serving Size: 1 (421.5 g)
- Calories 548.2
- Total Fat - 40.2 g
- Saturated Fat - 12.5 g
- Cholesterol - 217.9 mg
- Sodium - 3045.5 mg
- Total Carbohydrate - 5.5 g
- Dietary Fiber - 0.7 g
- Sugars - 3.4 g
- Protein - 42.1 g
- Calcium - 228.2 mg
- Iron - 4.5 mg
- Vitamin C - 8.7 mg
- Thiamin - 0.2 mg
First ... I use one deep non-stick saute pan for this dish; no need to dirty up more pots and pans.
Nuts ... Add the nuts to a dry saute pan on medium heat. Saute 3-4 minutes, stirring often until lightly toasted. Once you start to smell the nuts, they are done. Then, transfer to a plate; and, chop when cooled.
Zucchini ... I use a spiralizer or vegetable noodle maker for this. They are very affordable; and, easily available.
After you spiralize your zucchini, lay them out on a couple of paper towels; and, pat dry with another towel. Cut the noodles using a pair of scissors to the classic spaghetti size - otherwise you can end up with 'really' long noodles. Toss the noodles; and put another towel on top to dry.
Pasta ... As the zucchini dries; cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions in the deep saute pan. With that small amount of pasta; you don't need a big or deep pot to make this. I like to use classic linguini or fettuccine. Once done, drain and transfer to a bowl; drizzle just a teaspoon of olive oil on the pasta and toss. It will keep the pasta from sticking. Cover with foil to stay warm.
Zucchini ... Now, in the same saute pan - add a little non-stick spray; and, saute the zucchini on medium high heat stirring often. Cook about 3 minutes, just until they begin to soften. You want them tender; but, NOT falling about - 'crisp tender.' They will continue cooking in the sauce. Then, transfer them to the bowl with the pasta. No need to toss; but, keep it covered with the foil to keep warm.
Cauliflower ... In the same pan once again; add the cauliflower, and add enough broth to cover the cauliflower. Cook the cauliflower until very soft/tender, about 10-15 minutes. Strain the cauliflower, reserving 1 cup of the broth.
Sauce ... Add the cauliflower to a blender, along with the grated garlic, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, milk, a pinch of salt and pepper; and, puree until creamy and smooth. If the sauce seems a bit thick, add a little of the reserved broth. Return the sauce back to the pan; and, cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until heated through. Make sure to season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: do NOT let the sauce come to a boil.
Finish ... Add the zucchini and pasta noodles, fresh herbs; and toss to combine. Add a bit more reserved broth, if the dish seems a bit dry. The pasta and zucchini noodles will soak up some of the sauce ... so, I always add a bit more broth as the noodles heat back up. Once everything is heated through (a couple of minutes), transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with extra parmesan if you want it; and, the chopped pine nuts.
Serve and ENJOY! ... Serve with a classic Italian salad; and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. It's got a little pasta ... a little fat ... and, it is still rich, creamy, and flavorful; but ... overall, pretty healthy.
Tips & Variations
- Spiralizer, vegetable noodle maker