Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlic Seared Mushrooms

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This recipe is simply my Vegan Creamy Alfredo recipe with seared garlic mushrooms added on top.  The mushrooms add lots of flavor & takes some of the weight off the Alfredo – as far as having an authentic Alfredo taste.

I will be honest here.  I have yet to make a cauliflower-based “cheese” that tastes convincingly of heavy cream & Parmesan.  I will also add that nutritional yeast is either a flavor you like – or not.   I find it pleasant & sort of nutty – but it does not taste like cheese.  So – this Alfredo is not going to convince a cheese-eater that it is real Alfredo – but if you are a seasoned vegan & accustomed to managing expectations – this is really quite good.  It is also good if – like me – you cannot imaging eating something as rich & FATTENING as a real plate of pasta Alfredo.  This dish is creamy & visually satisfying & it is tasty.  It feels decadent but the only thing decadent is the actual pasta.

That said – let me give you a peek into the reality of food photography.  Typically – I march all around my house with the plate of food & I place it in several locations – trying to find the best light & background.  Sometimes – that spot is on my dining room floor.  See?

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That is my son, Dexter.  He is 10 & has nerve damage & needs yoga mats everywhere so his rear legs can get traction.  He is a gorgeous boy & my best fried & always offers his support as I put food all over the place to photograph it.  He never tries to sneak a bite.  He is just a curious little momma’s boy.    I am pretty sure most bloggers are using cheated shots like this that are cropped to keep the bizarre stuff in frame out of the final image.  So – there you go.

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Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlic Seared Mushrooms

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 TBS olive oil

1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups almond milk

1-3 TBS nutritional yeast (start with less & only increase after tasting each time)

1 tsp cayenne pepper

A few shakes of hot sauce (I always use Crystal)

Parsley – chopped

S&P

for the seared garlic mushrooms

Olive oil

1/2 lb sliced mushrooms

1-6 cloves garlic – chopped

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil & cook the garlic for about 1 minute.  Add the 1 1/2 cups milk (or more) & cauliflower & boil the cauliflower in the milk until it is very tender – 10 minutes or so.  My cauliflower soaked up all the milk – so I had to add more in the blending process.  Be careful you don’t burn the cauliflower & add more milk as it cooks – if it needs it.

Meanwhile – cook the pasta.

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When the cauliflower is very soft – puree it in a blender nutritional yeast, additional milk (if necessary), cayenne & hot sauce (maybe not ALL the milk & nutritional yeast).  Season with S&P and adjust the milk & nutritional yeast to suit your tastes in both flavor & consistency.

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for the seared garlic mushrooms

Heat a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil over high heat.  Add the mushrooms & cook – stirring infrequently – so they get a chance to brown.  When the are done to your liking – add the garlic & cook one minute longer.  Remove from heat.

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Drain the pasta & return it to the pot.  Toss with SOME of the sauce.  You may or may not want to use all the sauce.  That is just a personal preference.  When it looks nice & creamy to YOU – plate it & garnish with seared mushrooms & parsley.

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Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – I will be honest here.  I have yet to make a cauliflower-based “cheese” that tastes convincingly of heavy cream & Parmesan.  I will also add that nutritional yeast is either a flavor you like – or not.   I find it pleasant & sort of nutty – but it does not taste like cheese.  So – this Alfredo is not going to convince a cheese-eater that it is real Alfredo – but if you are a seasoned vegan & accustomed to managing expectations – this is really quite good.  It is also good if – like me – you cannot imaging eating something as rich & FATTENING as a real plate of pasta Alfredo.  This dish is creamy & visually satisfying & it is tasty.  It feels decadent but the only thing decadent is the actual pasta.

That said – let me give you a peek into the reality of food photography.  Typically – I march all around my house with the plate of food & I place it in several locations – trying to find the best light & background.  Sometimes – that spot is on my dining room floor.  See?

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That is my son, Dexter.  He is 10 & has nerve damage & needs yoga mats everywhere so his rear legs can get traction.  He is a gorgeous boy & my best fried & always offers his support as I put food all over the place to photograph it.  He never tries to sneak a bite.  He is just a curious little momma’s boy.    I am pretty sure most bloggers are using cheated shots like this that are cropped to keep the bizarre stuff in frame out of the final image.  So – there you go.

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Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 TBS olive oil

1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups almond milk

1-3 TBS nutritional yeast (start with less & only increase after tasting each time)

1 tsp cayenne pepper

A few shakes of hot sauce (I always use Crystal)

Parsley – chopped

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil & cook the garlic for about 1 minute.  Add the 1 1/2 cups milk (or more) & cauliflower & boil the cauliflower in the milk until it is very tender – 10 minutes or so.  My cauliflower soaked up all the milk – so I had to add more in the blending process.  Be careful you don’t burn the cauliflower & add more milk as it cooks – if it needs it.

Meanwhile – cook the pasta.

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When the cauliflower is very soft – puree it in a blender with all the other ingredients (maybe not ALL the milk & nutritional yeast) – except the parsley.  Season with S&P and adjust the milk & nutritional yeast to suit your tastes in both flavor & consistency.

Drain the pasta & return it to the pot.  Toss with SOME of the sauce.  You may or may not want to use all the sauce.  That is just a personal preference.  When it looks nice & creamy to YOU – plate it & garnish with parsley.

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Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower (Broccoli), Lemon & Chili Flakes (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Every two weeks, I get a box of mixed veggies from Farm Fresh To You.  I enjoy it because they are locally grown but also because they send me things I have never used before – like this Romanesco Cauliflower (or Romanesco broccoli).   It is striking to look at & almost looks other-worldly.  It has the texture of cauliflower but is described as tasting slightly nutty & earthy.  I found the flavor to be very mild – much like cauliflower – so you can use it any way you would use cauliflower.  I chose this light pasta dish.  I used real cheese in it but that is not necessary.  You can omit it with little loss to overall flavor or use a bit of nutritional yeast or vegan hard cheese – grated.

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Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower (Broccoli), Lemon & Chili Flakes (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1-2 heads of Romanesco cauliflower – cut into florets (or one bunch broccoli or head of cauliflower – cut into bite-sized pieces)

1 lemon (zest & juice)

Olive oil

Crushed red pepper to taste (I used a lot – like – 2 TBS – but use it at your own discretion)

1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 lb pasta (cooked)

S&P

Cheese (grated Parmesan or other hard cheese or vegan alternative or a TBS or so of nutritional yeast) – quantity totally up to you

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DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta according to directions, drain & set aside.

Meanwhile – boil the Romanesco florets for about 3 minutes.  Scoop out about 1 cup of the hot veggie water & set aside.  Drain & plunge the Romanesco into cold water to stop it from cooking too much.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the crushed red pepper, garlic & lemon zest.  Cook for about a minute & then add the Romanesco.  Heat through.

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Add some cheese & some of the hot veggie water.  Stir to combine.  Season with S&P.  Add more cheese if you like.

Add the pasta & some of the lemon juice.  Stir to combine & then adjust seasonings – maybe adding more cheese (or nutritional yeast) or S&P or lemon or crushed red pepper.

Serve!  Add more cheese if you desire.

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Spinach Fettuccine with Creamy Spinach, Avocado & Feta Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Yesterday, my day was more interesting that usual.  Typically, I get up some time between 6-7am, take the dogs on a coffee & donut run, post a blog bit, work out & then come home & try to think of something to invent for the next day’s blog.  But, yesterday, I had a friend passing through Union Station (one of my favorite places in L.A.) and he wanted me to come down & kill some time with him.  So, at 6:30 am, I picked him up & we went to Nick’s Cafe.  It was kinda fun being down there so early.  Here is the early shift at Nick’s:

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And here is the outside of Nick’s any my outrageously delicious chilaquiles:

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Then, we headed over to Olvera Street because my friend, Bradley, had never been.  It was about 8am at that point & Olvera Street was still mostly closed.  Only a few little shanty joynts were open serving breakfast.  But look at how pretty it is when abandoned:

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Anyway – it was kind of an adventurous early start to my day.

My dinner was less of an adventure but it was just as satisfying.  The pesto sauce here is all raw & so easy!  You can choose to make homemade Spinach Fettuccine or use a boxed pasta of your choice.

This recipe makes a lot of this sauce.  You will definitely have leftovers – unless you are feeding a very large group.  This recipe nearly filled a standard pickle jar – and each serving will only require a few tablespoons of the sauce.

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Spinach Fettuccine with Creamy Spinach, Avocado & Feta Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry pasta or some homemade Spinach Fettuccine

1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans or almonds)

5-5 oz feta cheese (or a 1x2x3 inch block) – plus extra as garnish

1 avocado

10 basil leaves – plus extra as garnish

6 cloves of garlic (or less)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 TBS pepper

water

4 -5 packed cups of spinach

1 tomato – diced as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Toast the nuts in a dry pan, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.  Once they start to smoke a bit but before they brown (or burn) remove them from the heat.

In a food processor, blend the nuts, feta, garlic, basil, oil and S&P until pureed.

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Add the avocado & blend smooth.  Then add the spinach, a cup or two at a time & blend.  Add a little water if it gets too thick.  Once all the spinach is incorporated – you are done.

To assemble – simply cook your pasta, drain & toss with a quantity of the sauce to suit your taste.  I do not like a heavy amount of sauce & this is so flavorful – you can go light with it.  Garnish with extra feta, chopped basil & diced tomatoes.  Grind fresh pepper over it & chow down!

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Decadent No Carb Shirataki Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus & Lemon

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These friggin’ shirataki noodles are the greatest.  These ones here have 80 calories – and that is for a huge bowl of pasta (two packages being one serving) – then the calories of whatever you add to them.

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As I stated before in other posts about these noodles, there actually is a measurable amount of carbohydrates in these but it is so negligible as to not be worth mentioning.  With noodles this light & guilt-free, you can add anything on top of them & still have a much lighter meal than you would with real pasta.  These noodles do not mimic the texture of pasta as well as they do the visual but the texture isn’t off-putting & you get used to it quickly.  In case this is your first time trying them, do not get freaked out by the fishy smell they have when you open the package.  Just boil them or zap them in some fresh water in the microwave & the smell goes away completely.  There is nothing funky about their taste.  They are a very neutral base for whatever you use to top them.

My boyfriend likes fettuccine alfredo a lot.  I have always found it too rich and, until yesterday, never made it myself.   Yesterday, I decided to spoil him & make him a decadent, cheesy sauce.  This recipe makes enough sauce to feed six easily.  I made one serving with the shirataki & 6 servings with a homemade pepper penne.   I did not photograph the penne version but I added some fresh, diced tomato to it & it broke up the monochrome of the dish nicely.  I recommend you try that, too.

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Decadent No Carb Shirataki Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus & Lemon

INGREDIENTS

Pasta of your choice (shirataki or homemade or boxed)

1 bunch asparagus

2 tomatoes – diced

8 TBS butter

4 cloves garlic – sliced thin

3 cups heavy cream

2 cups grated Parmesan

1 cup Pecorino Romano

3 oz cream cheese

zest of one lemon

Parsley – chopped for garnish

S&P to taste

Extra Parmesan or Pecorino Romano or grating

DIRECTIONS

Trim the ends of the asparagus as outlined HERE.  Basically, you grasp the spear on each end & bend it until it breaks.  The bottom part will be the tough, inedible part.  Then, cut into 1 inch pieces.  Wrap in a wet paper town & zap in a microwave for a minute or two.  (Alternatively – you could add the raw asparagus to your boiling pasta for the final four minutes.)

Melt the butter in a large pan.  Saute the garlic being careful not to brown it.  Add the heavy cream, 3 cheeses & the lemon zest & heat through until all the cheeses melt & the sauce is creamy.  Add salt & pepper.

Cook your pasta & drain it.  Add the asparagus to the sauce & warm it through.  Add the pasta to the sauce or mix them in a large serving bowl.  Garnish with diced tomatoes, parsley & lemon wedges & extra cheese for grating.

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Homemade Pasta Fettucini Noodles

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All Photos & Videos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This might seem intimidating but it is a really easy & ridiculously satisfying thing to make – once you get the hang of it. I promise you will be blown away by the results. Homemade pasta has nothing in common with dried pasta & doesn’t give you that heavy, carb-load sensation after a big bowl of it. It has a delicate flavor, too, that shouldn’t be overwhelmed with heavy sauces.

You kinda need a pasta maker but they are not that expensive. I recently bought one on Ebay for my boyfriend and I paid $35 – including shipping. Here are some samples. If you buy on Ebay – only buy from high rated sellers & be sure to look at the shipping charges when calculating the total cost.

Kitchenaid makes an attachment set for their stand mixers. So – if you own a Kitchenaid stand mixer – these are an option for you, too. They cost more but they take all the manual work out of the rolling & cutting.
If you have a food scale – the recommended ratio of egg to flour is 100 grams (14 oz) flour to one egg – and each egg represents one serving. My recipe below will be for 4 servings. The egg to flour ration is not a science, though. Some flour is more absorbent than others. Some eggs are huge – others not. Just measure out the suggested portions and, if the dough is still too wet, add flour until it isn’t. If it is too dry – you simply will not incorporate all the flour you measured out. Be sure to have lots of extra flour on hand for the rolling & cutting.
Also – just a note. The first few times you try this – don’t get too ambitious by setting out to make more than four servings. I’ve made it for twelve or more and, let me tell you, by the time you are cranking your way half way through all the dough – you begin to feel like a manual laborer in a Diego Rivera political mural. Plus, the rolled pasta begins drying out faster than you can get it cut. Not a good thing. So start small until you feel really confident.
Here are the tools I use:
A scale (nice but not necessary)
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A pastry blade (nice but a spatula works, too)
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The Pasta Maker (imperative)
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Homemade Pasta Fettucini Noodles
INGREDIENTS
400 grams (14 oz) or 2 1/2 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
4 Eggs
1 tsp salt
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Put your flour on a working surface & create a well.
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Put the eggs & the salt in the well.
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Whisk the eggs & salt together.
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Keep whisking & incrementally bring the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture until it gets too thick to whisk.
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Use a pastry blade or spatula to fold the rest of the flour over on top of the egg mix.  REMOVE YOUR JEWELRY – as this next part gets messy.  Knead the mix until you get a firm dough that is not tacky – even when you dig your fingers into it.  You might not have used all the flour you poured out – or you might have had to add more.  No matter.  All that matters is that you have a nice softball-sized ball of dough that isn’t tacky – and isn’t crumbling apart.  Once you achieve this – wash your hands.
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Next – divide the dough into three or four sections & repeat the following steps with each portion.
Clamp the pasta maker firmly to your counter.  Press the dough sorta flat on a floured counter & then press and edge into the roller portion of the pasta maker.  The rollers should be at their widest setting.  Crank the dough through.   (Pardon my funky cinematography!  It was hard to demonstrate & shoot video all by myself!)
Each time you crank it, you tighten the rollers by one point.  Spread a little flour on the dough (both sides) and crank it through again.
NOTE:  If your dough is too wet or too dry – repeatedly folding it in half after a cranking & putting it through the same setting again (and again & again – if need be)  – adding flour if wetness is the issue – will solve that problem.  No dough is beyond salvation!  Your cranking arm might curse you – but don’t worry – four servings isn’t much & next time – you will knead your dough better!  🙂  Also – feel the rollers underneath where the dough is being spit out.  Sometimes wet dough collects there and will deform or cut the pasta dough as you roll it out past that.  Just wipe anything collected on the rollers with your fingers.  There is nothing sharp on these machines.
For fettucini – I only roll the pasta to the second to last (or third from last – depending on the manufacturer) setting – as you do not want paper thin fettucini.  Let each long pasta strip rest out on your counter while you repeat this process with the remaining dough.
Next – move the crank handle to the cutter attachment.  Cut pieces of pasta in 12-14 inch chunks & run them through the cutter.
When it comes out the other side – gently toss the fettucini with some flour & put it aside on a floured surface to dry.    If it is still tacky – you might need to manually pull a few noodles apart.  as you progress & the pasta has been sitting, waiting to be cut, it should become dry enough that the noodles do not stick to each other.
And – there you have it!  Let the noodles sit out to dry AT LEAST an hour before cooking them.  They will cook in boiling water in less than 2 minutes – SO BE REALLY CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCOOK THEM!  The noodles should float up to the surface of the water as they cook.  When this starts – you know you are ready to start thinking about getting them out of the water.  Taste one for readiness – if you like.  There is NO SUCH THING as an “al dente” homemade pasta.  Pasta has to start crunchy to retain crunchiness.  Al Dente is the consolation prize for eating old, shelved dry pasta.  Homemade pasta is the food of angels & angels like things soft & delicate!  Do not salt the water, either.  Homemade pasta sucks all the salt up like a sponge & you do not want that.
This kind of pasta is best served with delicate toppings – rather than heavy sauces.  I will post suggestions & ideas soon.
Enjoy!