Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kale Alfredo?!

No amount of punctuation can really express how excited I am about this recipe. This creamy, delicious alfredo sauce features an unlikely vegetable hero instead of the usual suspects of butter and cream: cauliflower!

I've got veggies for days

I was skeptical of the glowing reviews when I first read this recipe, but the cauliflower really makes a velvety sauce that satisfied my craving for creamy, buttery pasta. I would say this recipe was infinitely more successful than my attempt at cauliflower pizza, which is all the rage on Pinterest, that basically turned out like eating a weird potato-like pancake with some marinara sauce and cheese on top.

When I looked at the pictures of this dish online, it seemed a little...boring. Where is the color? The excitement? The vitamins? Since I love spinach alfredo, and we had a bunch (literally, an entire bunch) of kale left over from making my favorite pasta dish earlier in the week, I was inspired to modify the dish and add a pop of green. Behold, kale alfredo was born!

This recipe makes three generous dinner-sized servings. When I reheated the pasta, I added a little bit of water to reconstitute the sauce, as it dried out a bit upon cooling and refrigerating. You can also use a bit of milk if you prefer.

Kale Alfredo

Sauce based on Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo from Pinch of Yum
Addition of kale by necessity


6 oz uncooked pasta (I used Barilla Veggie Pasta)
1 small head cauliflower
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 large handfuls of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon butter
1/3 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg
dash of black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon heavy cream
1/3 cup starchy boiling water from pasta pot (reserve more for thinning sauce)


1. Remove outer green leaves and woody portions, and chop the cauliflower (florets and stems) into bite-sized pieces. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium high heat, and add cauliflower. Cover and cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes. (The longer you cook it, the easier it will be to blend, and the smoother the sauce will be.)
2. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Heat to medium, and add kale. Add about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan to prevent burning and to aid in cooking/steaming the kale. Saute until bright green and limp, about 5 minutes, adding additional water if necessary. Remove kale to plate, and set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft and fragrant (but not brown).
4. As the garlic and cauliflower are cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook the pasta according to directions on package, reserving some of the starchy water to add to the sauce later.
5. Transfer cauliflower to a blender with about 1/2 cup of the broth. Add the sauteed garlic, salt, nutmeg, and black pepper and puree until very smooth, about 3 minutes, adding additional broth if needed (I used almost all of the broth I had to get it to blend smoothly). Once the mixture is moving, stream the olive oil into the blender. Add more broth or water if the mixture is too thick to move through the blender easily.
6. Wipe out the butter/garlic skillet to remove any burnt bits, but leave a bit of browned butter on the bottom of the pan to add a nutty flavor to the sauce. Transfer cauliflower puree back to the butter/garlic skillet.
7. Stir in the heavy cream, and cook over low heat. Add the starchy pasta water and the kale, and cook until warmed through. Add more pasta water, if needed, to get the consistency you prefer. Drain noodles and add them to the skillet, stirring to coat the pasta evenly. Enjoy!

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