A delicious cauliflower alfredo sauce mixed with white meat chicken, broccoli, and pasta. This recipe is packed with fiber, vegetables, and protein making a great one dish meal!
This cauliflower alfredo sauce goes well with many things, but nothing more comforting than pasta and chicken. Using cauliflower florets as a thickener, instead of flour and butter makes this dish healthier. Cauliflower has a very neutral flavor, which works well as a base for the white sauce. The pureed vegetables are combined with milk and parmesan cheese to give an authentic Alfredo flavor that coats the pasta.
As I was making this recipe for my family, my son James couldn’t wait to get a bowl of mom’s “mac n’ cheese.” It was a delight to see him take a bite of these healthier cheesy pasta shells. As a parent, I’m sure you can relate to how challenging it can be to get your kids to eat vegetables. After you make the sauce for the first time, you can use it in a variety of ways so that you can switch up your meals each week!
How to make cauliflower Alfredo sauce
- Use a Blender: Once the cauliflower florets are simmered and fork tender, it is processed in a high-speed Vitamix blender. The mechanical shear of the sharp blades breaks down the cell walls of the cauliflower and releases the natural starches from the cruciferous vegetable. The result, perfectly pureed thickened sauce base.
- Add Texture: Whole milk or your preferred dairy will add additional creaminess to the sauce. The liquid also helps to make the sauce pourable.
- Add Flavor: Aged Parmesan cheese and fragrant sauteed garlic add incredible savory flavors in the sauce from the naturally occurring glutamates. Incorporating the vegetable broth cooking liquid also provides delicious flavors.
I was blown away by the results- smooth, creamy, packed with garlicky Parmesan cheesy flavor. You will have extra sauce leftover (woot!), so save some for topping pizzas, your favorite proteins, or even more pasta. I’ve even tried adding butternut squash similarly into a sauce for macaroni and cheese!
Traditionally an Alfredo sauce starts with a roux base, equal parts of butter and flour for adding thickness. However, the cauliflower is a vegetable packed substitute for a healthier alternative. The cream based sauce benefits the pureed suspended particulates of the cauliflower, for instant viscosity and thickening power.
For a balanced dish, sauteed chicken and broccoli on top. The ingredients provide a powerful combination of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and nutrients, just what you need after a long day.
A sauteed chicken breast seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika makes for an easy add in. Some broccoli and whole grain shell pasta to add more fiber. A one bowl meal with lots of flavors is a win-win!
Shell shaped pasta are selected for this recipe because they can catch the sauce inside the curved noodles and on the outside ridges. You do not want to miss the chance to taste as much of the sauce as you can!
The pasta technology for adding more nutrition into each serving is impressive. Now you can find added protein, omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, gluten-free options and added fiber that tastes just like regular pasta.
My husband Jason mentioned how surprised he was that the sauce tasted very similar to a creamy alfredo. I wonder if I hadn’t told him if he would even know (sneaky wife thoughts generating, hehe). This recipe is going to be added to our family’s favorite meal list, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Have you ever made a sauce using vegetables before? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!
Benefits of Cooking With Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a great low-calorie way to add nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, fiber and folic acid to your diet. If you are looking for a healthier way to add a creamy texture to your sauces, cauliflower is your secret ingredient. Simply steamed or boiled until tender, a quick whirl in your blender creates a smooth and earthy puree with just a subtle flavor. The puree makes a beautiful sauce base so you can reduce or remove heavy creams that are high in fat that you would typically find in a cream sauce. Since the taste of cauliflower is very neutral, you can infuse any flavors you desire like garlic, onion, spicy peppers, spinach or cheese.
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 5 cups cauliflower florets , 1-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 8 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt , plus more for seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper , plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 cup whole milk , or nondairy milk
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
- 1 pound chicken breast , pounded to 1/2 -inch thickness
- paprika , to season chicken
- 8 ounces medium shell pasta , about 2 1/2 cups
- 3 cups broccoli florets , cut into very small pieces
- Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered, until fork tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup cauliflower cooking liquid.
- Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, once hot add minced garlic. Sauté until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer garlic and oil to blender. Save pan to cook the chicken.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and milk to blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds until the sauce is very smooth, adding more liquid or milk depending desired thickness.
- Add Parmesan cheese and puree until smooth, 30 seconds. Adjust seasonings and add more cheese if desired.
- Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, once hot add the chicken. Cook chicken 5 minutes, flip and cook 3 to 5 minutes until cooked through and internal temperature reaches 160-165°F. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into ½-inch cubes and set aside.
- Cook pasta according to manufacturer's directions. Remove shells once cooked and transfer to a large pan with high sides. Do not discard water!
- Cook broccoli in boiling pasta water for 1-2 minutes, until bright green and tender, drain.
- Add about 2 cups of the cauliflower sauce to the pasta, stir to combine. Add more sauce as desired. Top with diced chicken, broccoli and parmesan cheese.