Pasta is a dish that tugs at your heartstrings. My mouth waters thinking about a steaming plate of hot pasta — and let’s not forget about the freshly grated Parmesan cheese that melts on top. One of my favorite types of pasta is fettuccine alfredo. I love how the creamy garlicky sauce coats each noodle. It’s the type of dish you never get tired of.
According to lore, this dish was created by Alfredo Di Lelio in 1914 as an attempt to please his pregnant, nauseated wife. The original version was made with butter and Parmesan cheese, not cream, and this tradition continues outside of the U.S. When Di Lelio and his family moved to New York, he opened a restaurant, bringing this dish to the states.
Whether the sauce is made with butter and cheese or butter, cheese and cream, it’s not exactly the lightest option out there. We figured there had to be a way to get that no-compromise flavor without all the cream and butter. And I’m happy to report: We did it! This recipe features a healthier version of fettuccine alfredo. No cream, no butter, but all the flavor.
The secret? Cauliflower!
To make this dish, you start off by cooking your pasta. We opt for a whole-grain fettuccine for added fiber. Once the noodles are cooked, you’ll want to reserve some of the pasta water for the sauce. If you don’t normally add pasta water, it’s a great trick to use when making pasta sauce. As the noodles cook, they’ll release starch into the water. By keeping and using some of the leftover water for the sauce, you can thicken it without the need for added oil or flour.
Next, you’ll prepare the fettuccine sauce. Start by cooking the cauliflower in vegetable broth (for extra flavor). While it cooks, lightly sauté garlic and olive oil together. Once the cauliflower is cooked, add it to the blender alongside the garlic, nutmeg and reserved cooking water. A quick trip to the blender will turn the cauliflower into a silky white sauce. Add the sauce back to the pan, stir in some unsweetened almond milk, and just like that you have a healthier fettuccine sauce that’s full of flavor. You’d never guess there’s cauliflower inside, but it always feels good sneaking in extra vegetables. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, if desired.
Healthier Fettuccine Alfredo
Learn how to make a lighter version of creamy, delicious fettucine alfredo!
- 8 oz dry whole-grain fettuccine
- 3 cups low-sodium organic vegetable broth
- 1 medium cauliflower chopped (about 1½ pounds)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper to taste; optional
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley for garnish; optional
Cook fettuccine according to directions on package. Before draining, reserve 2 cups of cooking water; set aside.
Bring broth to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower. Reduce heat; cook, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until soft.
While cauliflower cooks, heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, or until garlic is soft. Remove from heat and strain.
Place cauliflower in blender (or food processor) with 2 cups of reserved cooking water, garlic, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Blend in two or more batches if necessary; cover with lid and kitchen towel. Blend until very smooth. Add additional cooking water if needed.
Heat cauliflower mixture in same medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add almond milk; cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes. Consistency should be that of a thick soup.
Add fettuccine; mix well.
Divide fettuccine evenly between four bowls. Top evenly with cheese and parsley (if desired); serve immediately.
The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.