Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato

Want creamy alfredo sauce without the fatty cream and cheese? Try substituting them with cauliflower for a delicious, creamy pasta sauce. Your guests or kids will never know the difference!

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato | Close Encounters of the Cooking Kind

It feels weird writing this post. Apart from the Africa photos I dumped on you a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t gone through the whole process of writing a blog post since July. It’s taken me a bit of time to get back into the swing of the whole cooking, photographing, editing and writing of a post. I think it’s because I’m not fully settled yet. I’m staying at my sister’s place, our boxes still haven’t arrived from the UK and then we’re heading off to South-East Asia next week, so the last four weeks at ‘home’ haven’t really felt like being at home at all. More like a little break between travelling.

The blog has kind of taken a back seat for the last few months. I even missed my two year blogging anniversary in October (I had a really cool cake recipe I wanted to post, but the first attempt was not blog-worthy, and I didn’t have time to fiddle with the recipe and make another one before we left London). And now we’re heading off again, so this little space is going to stay on the back seat for a little while longer. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I hope you don’t mind either. I’ve got a few posts lined up while we’re away again. I’m trying to get enough to post once a week, but it might stay at once a fortnight if I can’t get everything ready in time.

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato | Close Encounters of the Cooking Kind

This time around, we’re going to be travelling for five weeks, visiting Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand and I’m super excited, but also feel really under-prepared. Our Africa trip had been in the works for ages and we had a lot of time to prepare for it. This trip couldn’t be any different. We’ve had four weeks to plan and sort everything and I’m not the best at spontaneous travelling so it feels a bit rushed. But I can’t wait for the adventure, the food, the culture and the experiences we’re going to have.

Today’s recipe – Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato – probably won’t be gracing many menus in Ho Chi Minh City or Luang Prabang, which is the exact reason why I wanted to make it before we leave. I’m filling my belly with everything I don’t think we’ll be able to get in Asia!

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato | Close Encounters of the Cooking Kind

I’ve seen cauliflower used as a substitute for a lot of things, from pizza dough (tried it, hated it) to rice (haven’t tried it, super keen). This sauce is made healthy by using cauliflower instead of a tonne of fatty cream and cheese. And do you know what? It works so well. It’s creamy and saucy and everything you want from an alfredo sauce without all the bad stuff. There is a super slight taste of cauliflower, but if you didn’t know, you’d think it was just some random ingredient used to flavour the sauce. Add in a small amount of parmesan cheese, some herbs or spices and top with crunchy pangrattato (toasted breadcrumbs) and you’ve got a delicious, vegetarian, lightened up meal that should please even the fussiest eater.

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato | Close Encounters of the Cooking Kind

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

CREAMY CAULIFLOWER PASTA:
4 cups vegetable stock
500g cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 cups or half a large cauliflower)
1 shallot/eschalot, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup milk
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme (or similar)
1 tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp pepper
400-450g fettuccine pasta
PANGRATTATO:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp dried thyme (or similar)
Zest of half a lemon

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring vegetable stock to boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 7-8 minutes until cauliflower is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a small frying pan over medium heat, cook sliced shallot for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for another minute or two, until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Cook pasta in a saucepan of salted boiling water according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, continue making sauce. Remove cauliflower from saucepan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender. Add half a cup of vegetable stock from the saucepan, along with milk, grated parmesan cheese, salt, thyme, chilli flakes and pepper. Blend for 2-3 minutes until everything has been blended and combined. Set aside.
  4. While pasta is cooking and once sauce has been made, make pangrattato. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant, then add breadcrumbs, salt, chilli flakes, dried thyme and lemon zest. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Drain pasta, then return to saucepan and pour in cauliflower sauce. Stir to combine, then serve topped with pangrattato.

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum.

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