Vegan Alfredo Sauce – This creamy dairy free Alfredo sauce recipe is the one you’ve been looking for. With a rich, velvety texture and good-for-you ingredients, this sauce is one you’ll come back to again and again. (Gluten Free & Vegan)
“Shall I make us a little Christmas fettuccine?”
I love that line and scene from The Holiday. Kate Winslet’s whole character, really. I spent a summer watching that movie over and over, cheering her on and saying “NO! Forget Jasper! He’s the WORST! You can do better than that!” and trying to drum up some gumption. She’s the everygirl in so many ways. Sigh…
I watched the movie… I saw them eating fettuccini… and I NEEDED fettuccine.
Problem: no gluten or dairy. To say I was skeptical of a vegan alfredo sauce would only sort of begin to cover it. But after a few tests, I’ve been very much won over.
I really do think it was creamy and delicious. The cashews lend a bit of healthy fat and protein, and the cauliflower added to the creaminess. I was sure it would taste like cauliflower, but it really wasn’t an overpowering flavor! The garlic, lemon juice, and salt add a nice tang. and it’s so creamy.
Both my kids tried (and ate!) it. I served it on the side and let them dip their noodles in it. Milo ate his with a spoon and had seconds. Sophie tasted it and dipped her noodles in one at a time. Michael loved it and requested it again. We made it again this weekend and loved it all over again.
All that to say, if you need a little (gluten and dairy free) Christmas fettuccine… this is it. Eat it after the kids are in bed, by the light of your tree and The Holiday on. You’ll love it.
p.s. I do think a big old handful of Parmigiano Reggiano would be amazing, but it was flavorful and creamy without it too.
Variations & How to Serve It:
My favorite gluten free pasta for this kind of thing is either Tinkyada or Jovial brand brown rice pasta. The texture hold up best and is most like traditional pasta. Be sure to follow the directions so you don’t over-cook it.
If you’re eating paleo or avoiding grains, this also goes beautifully over veggie noodles or grilled chicken, if you’re paleo.
Variations. I love playing with recipes and this one’s EASY to play with. A few of my favorite variations:
Mix in some diced roasted red peppers or sun dried tomatoes
Add some steamed broccoli for broccoli Alfredo
Sprinkle just a touch of lemon zest on top before serving
Add a hefty pinch of coarse black pepper or a pinch of red pepper flakes for some kick
Go half and half with this vegan Alfredo sauce and your favorite marinara for a pink pasta effect.
Notes on this Vegan Alfredo Sauce:
Soak your cashews – Soaking cashews removes some of the compounds like phytates and tannins, making them easier to digest. It also means they’ll blend easier and give you that smooth, velvety texture you’re looking for. I recommend giving them 1-3 hours to soak, if you can (though you can leave them up to 8-10 hours in the fridge if you want). If you forgot, or you’re in a hurry, you can short-cut this step by pouring boiling/very hot water over the cashews and giving them 30 minutes to soak. The compounds won’t have as much time to break down, but the texture will be spot on.
If you’re nut-free, you can skip the cashews and you’ll have a thinner sauce. I like the richness and thickness they add.
Blending & getting super smooth – You don’t have to have a high-speed blender for this recipe, but it sure does make it easy and fast. I have a refurbished Blendtec that’s over 5 years old and has more than 1200 blends (there’s a counter). It’s still going strong! If you’re using a traditional blender, you may need to run it a few cycles to get that super-smooth effect.
2–2 1/2 cups water or chicken broth (if not vegan)
2–3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup cashews, soaked ahead of time
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste (the salt is pretty key here, so be a bit generous)
Place the cauliflower and broth or water In a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer and cook until cauliflower is tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower from the cooking liquid.
While the cauliflower is cooking, heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Transfer cauliflower, garlic, cashews, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of the cauliflower cooking liquid to a blender. Add plenty of salt and puree until very smooth. Add additional cooking liquid until you’ve reached your desired consistency. I like mine fairly thin so that it doesn’t feel too heavy.
Taste and add additional salt or pepper, to taste.