Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo with Peas

New year, new diet? Bring it on! Nobody likes to go on a diet, but it’s a little easier when you have recipes like this one. I created this dish to satisfy my craving for Fettuccine Alfredo, pasta with a rich and creamy white sauce. While I like to indulge in the real thing every once in a while, I can’t do it all the time and stay at a reasonable weight. This Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo with Peas satisfies my craving for creamy pasta without all the fat and calories. It replaces the heavy carbs and cholesterol with healthy gluten free vegetables and probiotic Greek yogurt. It’s a nourishing and flavorful meal, and it couldn’t be easier to make.

Alfredo sauce has a charming history. In Italy it is always served with fettuccine pasta and is often referred to by another name, fettuccine alla Romana. The concept is very simple– butter and cheese and sometimes cream, melted together over hot cooked fettuccine noodles. The dish was made popular by a chef named Alfredo di Lelio, owner of the restaurant Alfredo in Rome. When Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stopped by his restaurant during a trip to Europe, they fell in love with the simple yet decadent dish. To show their gratitude for Alfredo’s hospitality, the couple gave him a golden fork and spoon. When Fairbanks and Pickford returned to Hollywood, word of the dish quickly spread. The simple and decadent Fettuccine Alfredo preparation became popular all over the United States.

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, early 1920′s. Library of Congress.

I love Alfredo sauce (who doesn’t??), but butter and cream is not on the Shiksa’s menu at the moment. I’m trying to shed a few holiday pounds, and those rich ingredients aren’t going to help matters. I decided to create an Alfredo-style sauce using lowfat milk, Greek yogurt, and cornstarch as a thickener (potato starch works too). The sauce includes parmesan, like the original, but in a much smaller amount. To cut down on carbs and add vitamins, I subbed roasted cauliflower and peas for the pasta. The roasted cauliflower is naturally caramelized and full of flavor. The sauce is creamy and rich. While not exactly the same as Alfredo sauce, I think I actually enjoy this sauce more… it’s got a very slight tartness from the yogurt, and the creaminess isn’t too heavy, which means it won’t give you that “I ate too much, my tummy hurts” feeling. If you use roasted cauliflower, I don’t think you’ll miss the pasta… but just in case you do, this sauce can be served over fettuccine (or any other pasta) as well.

This could be served as either an entree or a side dish, depending on your preference. We like to eat it as a light main course. I could also see it as a side dish for fish, if you need a little more protein on your plate. It’s healthy comfort food, so eat up! Mangia! Buon appetito. :)

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Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo with Peas

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower - 3 lbs. (or 2 1/2 lbs. pre-cut florets)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Salt and white or black pepper to taste
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: 4
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Pull the leaves off of the cauliflower base. Cut off the lower part of the stem. Cut the head of cauliflower into four quarters. Slice each quarter into 6-8 pieces. Give all the florets a thorough rinse in a colander. Shake them dry.
  • Spread the florets out in an even layer on 1-2 baking sheets. Drizzle the florets evenly with 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss the florets to coat them fully with oil. I use clean hands for this.
  • Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and let the cauliflower roast for 10 minutes. While the cauliflower is roasting, pre-measure the remaining ingredients and have them ready to go by the stovetop.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Use tongs to turn over the florets, making sure that the florets with flat surfaces are pressed directly against the baking sheet. This will enhance caramelization. Return the baking sheet to the oven. Let the cauliflower roast for 10-20 minutes longer till tender. When it's ready you will be able to pierce it easily with a fork. For more detailed cauliflower roasting instructions with step-by-step photos, click here.
  • While cauliflower finishes roasting, prepare your peas and alfredo sauce. Place frozen peas in a small saucepan with 1/3 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stir, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes till warmed through. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, make your Greek yogurt Alfredo sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in cornstarch or potato starch to form a thick paste.
  • Add the milk slowly, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly to keep the sauce smooth. Once the full cup of milk has been added, heat till the mixture thickens and becomes bubbly around the edges. Do not let the milk come to a full boil.
  • Pour in the grated parmesan and whisk to melt the cheese into the sauce. Turn heat to low. Whisk in the Greek yogurt till smooth and heated through. Remove from heat. Season with salt and white or black pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper). As written, the sauce is nice and thick; if you'd like it a little thinner, add 1/4 cup more milk and continue to heat till you reach the texture you desire. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken more as it cools.
  • Place the roasted cauliflower into a large mixing bowl along with the cooked, drained peas. Toss to combine.
  • Serve each portion of roasted cauliflower and peas with the warm Greek yogurt Alfredo sauce.

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Comments (22)Post a Comment

  1. HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO”
    With reference of your article we have the pleasure to tell you the history of our grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, creator of this recipe in the world known.
    Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in a street in the center of Rome nel 1914, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina in Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). In this local spread the fame, first to Rome and then in the world, of “fettuccine all’Alfredo”. In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio gave the local to his collaborators.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo and Ines, with the famous “gold cutlery”” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”) link to alfredo-roma.it).
    We must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong to the family tradition of “Il Vero Alfredo”.
    We inform that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” is in the Registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of Rome Capitale.

    Best regards Alfredo e Ines Di Lelio

    1. I wish I would have seen Alfredo’s post a few weeks ago. We were just in Rome on vacation and would have loved to have been able to visit the restaurant.

  2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    YUM! I love roasted cauliflower… and lowfat alfredo sauce made with Greek yogurt?!?! OH MY GOSH this dish just shouts my name! I cannot wait to try this out.

  3. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made a variation on the recipe b/c I’m lactose-intolerant – lactose-free yogurt and rice milk (parmigiana cheese is very low-lactose). Sauce didn’t quite thicken enough – more cornstarch would probably work. But…overall…it was delicious.

    1. So glad you liked it Kris! Lactose free yogurt and rice milk are both thinner than what the original recipe calls for, which is why your sauce didn’t thicken. Greek yogurt is quite thick and has less liquid than regular yogurt, and lowfat milk is creamier than rice milk. Next time you try it, you can thicken it with more cornstarch. You could also try adding a little less rice milk and a little more parmesan.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I never tried cauliflower with milk, cheese and yogurt before. This mixture is looking delicious so I am going to make this for the next holiday.

    1. Hi Joshua, I don’t offer calorie breakdowns on my recipes. The nutrition calculators available online are not always reliable, and nutrition stats of various ingredients can vary from brand to brand (sodium content, calories, etc.). There are calorie calculators online you can use where you can plug in the specific brands you use. Just Google “calorie calculator” and you should get many results. :)

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I saw this the day you posted it and couldn’t wait to make it! I did have to wait until Friday (boyfriend not a cauliflower fan and he’s out of town) but it was well worth the wait! I used Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan, but otherwise followed your recipe exactly. I was on the phone with aforementioned boyfriend and told him this recipe may well convert him to a cauliflower lover. Absolutely delicious! It feels so decadent and I love that it’s nutritious! I served it as a side for a salmon burger on Friday and tossed the leftover with some cubed, seared chicken and ate it like a pasta dish for dinner this evening. I’m new to your blog but am absolutely loving it (and sharing it). Thank you so much for what you do! Your falafel recipe, greek yogurt apple streusel cake, and this recipe are what I’ve made so far and they’ve each been excellent!

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This was really a delicious dish. Instead of regular peas, I used fresh Sugar Snap Peas and roasted them with the cauliflower. I will definitely use this dish again.

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago & for the first time my husband said he really enjoyed cauliflower (after 55 years!)
    Your recipes are always amazing and the instructions so easy to follow. Thanks so much.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I’ve made this cauliflower yumminess at least 4 times since reading this post a couple of months ago and the entire family enjoyed every single meal immensely.

    Thanks so much for sharing!!! It’s a fave now.

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