Do you know that the very well known “Italian Alfredo sauce” doesn’t exist in Italy? Let me explain better: if you are going to Italy on vacation in an Italian restaurant you will not find any “Fettuccine Alfredo” name on the menu and if you will ask to the waiter if you could have some pasta with Alfredo sauce, he will look at you with an hesitant face as he really will not know what you are talking about 😉
The white, buttery, creamy Alfredo sauce is a wonderful american modification of the Italian “pasta with butter and parmesan”, a very basic but still delicious pasta dressing. Being made with butter, heavy cream and cheese it ends up being a kind of rich and heavy sauce. Perfectly fine during the winter holidays (from Thanksgiving to Christmas we are very indulgent with food) but a bit too much for the first months of the year when we usually have healthy and fresh resolutions to follow. That’s why I decided to still indulge in a comfort food recipe, but with an healthy and light twist. We will use cauliflowers and white cannellini beans to get the same creamy buttery texture and a mix of garlic and shallots to give a tasty flavor. You will be surprised by the final result! Sooo yummy! My kids really really loved this healthy Alfredo sauce. I served it with pasta (of course) and than I tried it with rice, amazing too.
Here you are the quantities for 8/10 people (remember that you can always freeze the sauce that you are not using and enjoy it later):
– Let’s start from the cauliflower (such a beautiful vegetable!!). Rinse the cauliflower under cold water, remove the leaves. Cut around the underside of the head removing most of the core. Detach the florets where they join at the center. Separate the florets by cutting through the base to make smaller florets.
– Fill a medium size pot with the broth, I used homemade vegetable broth, but any broth will work (well, I do not recommend fish broth).
– When the broth is almost boiling add the cauliflower florets and let them cook for 15 minutes.
– Meanwhile prepare the other vegetables: the shallots in thin slices and the garlic in small pieces. Place them in a big pan with some extra virgin oil of olive, turn the heat on at low and cook them for 5/8 minutes stirring. We want to lightly caramelize the onions. Once cooked, turn the heat off and set them apart.
– Rinse the cannellini beans under cold water in order to remove the liquid from the can.
– Remove 1 cup of broth from the cauliflower pot and set it apart. Drain the cauliflower florets.
– In a kitchen mixer add the following ingredients: the cauliflower florets, the shallots and garlic mix, the cannellini beans, a pinch of salt and half a cup of the broth saved from the cauliflowers pot. Let the mixer work for 4 minutes in order to create a buttery creamy sauce: healthy Alfredo sauce!!!
– At this point you can cook the pasta in the traditional way: fill 3/4 of a medium size pot with water (I used the same one of the cauliflowers). When the water is boiling add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Add 1 lb. of pasta and stir. Let the pasta cook following the cooking time on the box. Drain the pasta.
– Place the pasta in a big bowl and add the healthy Alfredo sauce. Mix. Add some grated parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!!!
As you can see my little Alex really liked the sauce that can be also served to little ones (12/18 months of age) as a creamy puree by itself.