This recipe is long overdue to be posted. Tory and I concocted this when we got together to create our Honey Mustard Pretzel recipe which we posted at Superbowl time back in February. We are both self-professed carb lovers and pasta is a major comfort food for us. And the idea of making a cauliflower alfredo had intrigued us both for quite some time so it seemed the perfect time to healthify pasta.
We based this dish off of a recipe from Julia’s Album and tweaked it slightly to use kale instead of spinach and added more parmesan in the alfredo sauce. We were both impressed with how creamy the cauliflower sauce was without any milk or cream – you still get the wonderful nuttiness and cheesy goodness from a generous amount of parmesan. We tossed the saucy fettucine with sautéed chicken, kale and sundried tomatoes – which happen to be one of my favorite pasta add-ins! In fact, since making this recipe I’ve become somewhat obsessed with sundried tomatoes. You could say I rediscovered them and how much I like them.
Here’s what you need:
We’ll be doing a few things at the same time here, but I’ve broken the recipe into the components of the sauce and then the ingredients that get tossed into the pasta – that way it’s easy to separate the cauliflower sauce if you want to start with that base and then follow your own whims. Mostly while the cauliflower sauce is coming to a boil to cook the cauliflower we prep the other ingredients so it’s not too intimidating with multi-tasking.
Start by cutting the cauliflower into large pieces and putting them in a large pot.
Cover with water and bring to a boil.
While the cauliflower is boiling, grate up some fresh parmesan cheese – parmesano reggiano if you’re feeling fancy and have it on hand. It will lend more depth to the sauce.
Boil for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is really tender – really tender. We’re going to puree it in a bit so this is important!
Reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid from the cauliflower and then drain. Mix ½ t of chicken bouillon granules with a half cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Add to the drained cauliflower.
Add in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt – a healthy pinch and a couple grinds and pepper.
Now get out your trusty immersion blender if you have one (otherwise just use a normal blender but be careful blending hot things! I like to use a towel to cover the top of the blender with the cap for streaming liquid off to allow steam to escape. And blend until the mixture is smooth.
Taste and adjust the seasoning – this is where Tory & I pretty much doubled the amount of parm in the original recipe. You can also add back in more of the reserved cooking liquid if you need to thin the sauce out at this point.
The sauce is now ready to use in our pasta dish or any other concoction you desire!
While the cauliflower was boiling, Tory & I cut up some chicken into strips. Julienned (cut into strips) the sundried tomatoes and also a used a microplane to grate up a few cloves of garlic. To save time if you can find sundried tomatoes that are already cut in a julienne cut get those – our grocery store was out when we went shopping.
Cook some fettucine according to package directions to al dente. Set aside a cup of the pasta cooking water and drain pasta.
The beauty of sundried tomatoes packed in oil, is that you have this super flavorful oil to cook with! Add a couple tablespoons to a pan. Over medium high heat sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.
Add the chicken and sundried tomatoes and cook until the chicken is almost cooked through about 3 to 4 minutes, but this will vary depending on how hot your pan is and how thick your chicken is cut. Season the chicken and tomato mixture with salt and paprika as it cooks.
Add the kale – which should be torn into pieces no bigger than 2 inches by 2 inches. It’s going to look like a serious mound at first but will end up wilting down.
Next add your sauce – about a cup and a half, some dried basil, a couple generous pinches of crushed red pepper flakes and about a half cup of the reserved cooking water.
Mix it all together.
Add in the fettucine. Ours sat for a couple minutes and clumped together just a bit – you’ll see that it shortly separates as the sauce is incorporated.
Stir to distribute the pasta and coat it evenly with the sauce. Thin with the remaining pasta water as needed.
Serve and enjoy!
As will many pasta dishes this makes excellence leftovers. The sauce also keeps well in the fridge to be used in other dishes.
- Cauliflower Sauce:
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into large pieces
- 1 c cooking water, reserved from cooking the cauliflower
- ½ t chicken bouillon
- 1+ c parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- ¼ t salt
- Fresh ground pepper, a pinch
- 8 oz fettucine, cooked according to package directions
- 1 c pasta water reserved from cooking the fettucine
- 1 3-4 oz jar sundried tomatoes in oil – we used a version with Italian seasoning mixed in, drained and sliced into strips (or buy the julienned kind!)
- 2 T oil reserved from sundried tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or finely minced
- 1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced into bite sized strips.
- 1 ½ T paprika
- 3-4 c kale, torn
- 1 T dried basil
- ¼ to ½ t crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- Start by making the cauliflower sauce. Cover the cauliflower with water in a dutch oven and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Drain, reserving a cup of cooking liquid.
- Dissolve the chicken bouillon granules in a half cup of the cooking water. Add to the cauliflower along with parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender. Adjust seasoning and/or add more cooking water to thin as needed.
- Heat the sundried tomato oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chicken and sundried tomatoes. Season with paprika and salt. Cook 3-4 minutes until chicken is almost cooked through.
- Add kale to skillet and allow to wilt down.
- Add a cup and a half of cauliflower sauce, half of the reserved pasta water, basil, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Add pasta and toss with tongs to combine. Add more reserved pasta water as needed to thin sauce.