A Sunday Mess | Roasted Garlic + Cauliflower Cream Sauce (or Vegan Alfredo)
Sunday’s around here have taken on the very distinct rhythms of meal prepping. Afternoons spent in the kitchen chopping, measuring, stirring, cleaning up, and repeat. And I’m happy to do it, because it’s January and the days are mostly dreary. Also, my bones welcome the steamy heat of the stove and my cold hands are thankful for lengthy dips into warm, sudsy water while they do the work of washing dishes.
Though, lest you think that I am some angel, twirling effortlessly around the kitchen while songbirds sing from my windowsill, meal prepping around here tends to have a more guerrilla warfare type vibe to it. Do not let those photos fool you. Beyond the very edges of the scene is a veritable apocalyptic mess. Piles of dishes everywhere, trash bin overflowing with scraps of vegetable, the occasional cursing when I realize I’ve misread a recipe (note to self: always read your recipes through before starting). It’s actual chaos.
While all this meal-prepping is happening, there is not much energy to prepare anything extra, so Sunday lunches are foraged from leftovers lurking in the fridge. I try to be saintly and not waste food, but I don’t always succeed. On the counter there currently sits questionable containers of gravy and vegan mozzarella that will need to be discarded. This does not happen without guilt, but I’m trying.
What I did manage to resurrect were the last dredges of a vegan alfredo sauce, a handful of spinach gnocchi, and some baby spinach nesting in the crisper. This was not enough to match my level of hunger so I cooked up some fettuccine and tossed the whole lot together. If you are paying attention, yes, I had fettuccine AND gnocchi. Are you happy/concerned for me? I’m eating it now and spattering sauce all over the laptop. Guerrilla warfare, I tell you.
And this alfredo is what I’m here to talk to you about. What started as an experiment to recreate a plant-based version of fettuccine alfredo has turned into something so extraordinary that I had to give it’s own name that could appeal to all appetites out there. Because often, putting the word “vegan” in front of the name of a dish will likely give the impression that the recipe to follow is a saddened, unfulfilling version of the “real” thing. And this dish is definitely not that.
I’ve been eating this all week and have not tired of it yet. I’ve even shared with a friend (because sharing is caring). If you prefer to not eat the same thing day after day, leftovers of this sauce will freeze just fine.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have messes to make.
Roasted Garlic + Cauliflower Cream Sauce
(or Vegan Alfredo)
Makes about 3 cups of sauce.
If a vegan alfredo is what you are after, you will not be disappointed. If a creamy, dreamy, plate of comfort is what you need, this sauce will not let you down. I’ve had it with gluten-free gnocchi, fettuccine, and gnocchi/fettuccine combined. I imagine a drizzle of it will elevate roasted or steamed veggies (broccoli or winter squash would be sublime), or try smothering your potatoes in it and top with green onions and roasted chickpeas.. Eating it right off the spoon, straight out of the blender is also encouraged ( I did this, so trust).
Give yourself about an hour to prepare the sauce.
8 cloves of garlic, leave peels on
2 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup vegetable broth (may not need all of it, and I like this one)
salt + pepper to taste
*Optional: lemon zest, red pepper flakes, chives, nutritional yeast
Pre-heat oven to 375 F degrees.
Separate 8 cloves of garlic from the bulb but do not remove the skins. Scatter onto an oven proof dish and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the cauliflower and cashews. Simmer till cauliflower is fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Once cauliflower is tender, strain the florets and cashews and rinse under cool water. Set aside.
When the garlic is finished roasting, remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Squeeze the garlic pulp out of the skins.
Into a blender, add the cauliflower, cashews, garlic, and half a cup of broth. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Continue to add broth until you reach your desired consistency (I wanted a thick but pourable sauce and ended up using the full cup). Taste for seasonings, add salt + pepper as needed, and blend again. You may need to scrape down the sides of your blender a couple times.
Add the sauce to a small pot and heat over medium/medium-low till warmed through. Take care not to burn the bottom, it will warm up quick.
Toss with or drizzle over your food of choice.
*Have fun and play around with different flavors. This sauce is very versatile. Try topping your dish with lemon zest, red pepper flakes, minced chives, nutritional yeast, (or parmesan if you are not vegan). I added the lemon, red pepper, and parm to my bowls of fettuccine and I was very, very happy.
Tip: If tossing with pasta, reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining. I find the starch from pasta makes this sauce very thick, but adding a little of the reserved cooking water helps to achieve a slick and saucy consistency.