Pasta Alfredo, Vegan & Dairy-Free

The story goes that Alfredo sauce was created in Rome after a restaurant owner, Alfredo di Lelio, wanted to create something for his pregnant wife to eat since she has lost most of her appetite during the pregnancy. So he dropped some Parmesan cheese into the traditional al burrro (butter) sauce and she couldn’t stop eating it. The American version of this recipe also features a lot of cream which makes it very dairy heavy. In the spirit of Veganuary I wanted to create a plant based, dairy-free and vegan version of this dish that retained that luxurious smooth and creamy texture and cheesy flavour.

The choice of ingredients may seem a little odd, but many vegan dishes use nuts as a base for creamy sauces or in desserts as a replacement for dairy. In this case sunflower seeds are used in what cashew nuts would be used. Sunflower seeds are much more inexpensive and have a neutral flavour not being as sweet as cashews, as well being suitable for those with a nut allergy. Sunflower seeds are also a more sustainable choice for those of us living in a Mediterranean climate since they grow here. When soaked and blended they have a creamy texture and wonderful neutral yet nutty and rich flavour that works wonderfully as a replacement for cream in savoury sauces.

This recipe is very easy to make, what takes the longest is the soaking of the sunflower seeds to soften them up, but if you have a good blender then they don’t have to soak for too long. The nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy flavour without having to add any dairy and thickens the sauce even more. If you find the sauce is a bit too thick you can always add some more water, one tablespoon at a time to loosen a bit. The sauce should be savoury enough with the nutritional yeast but you can season to taste at the end. Add the cooked al-dente pasta to the sauce to cover well and the pasta will keep soaking in liquid from the sauce. I like to serve and garnish with parsley and some chilli flakes for heat, but this is up to your taste buds!

Pasta Alfredo, Vegan & Dairy-Free
Yield: 2 Servings
Difficulty: Easy
Prep time:
Cooking time:

Description

Traditional pasta with an Alfredo sauce is heavy with dairy - butter, cream, Parmesan cheese and egg yolks. This version is dairy-free and vegan, much healthier and very easy to make, retaining a rich cheesy flavour and luxurious creamy texture.

Metric
US/Cups

Ingredients

  • 250g of pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, tagliatelle)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 50g of sunflower seeds
  • 150 ml of water
  • ¼ cup of nutritional yeast
  • parsley and chilli flakes to garnish
  • ½ lb of pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, tagliatelle)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1¾ ounces of sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp of water
  • ¼ cup of nutritional yeast
  • parsley and chilli flakes to garnish

Instructions

  1. The first step is to soften the sunflower seeds by soaking them in water. You can do this by covering in water overnight or simply pour boiling water over them and soaking during one hour. If you have a good blender then they don’t need any more soaking than that.
  2. Proceed to boil water with a generous pinch of salt to cook your pasta of choice.
  3. When the pasta is cooking, finely dice the garlic cloves and the shallot and gently sauté in a pan with the olive oil on a low-medium heat. You don’t want them to brown or burn.
  4. Drain the soaked sunflower seeds and add them to a blender with the water and nutritional yeast flakes, cooked garlic and shallot, and blend until smooth and creamy.
  5. Add the cream back to the pan and very gently warm up to a simmer, and season to taste. If the Alfredo sauce is very thick you can always add a little water to loosen.
  6. Drain the pasta while it is still a bit al-dente, and add to the pan with the Alfredo sauce, and mix until all the pasta is covered.
  7. Serve and garnish with chopped parsley and some chilli flakes for a little heat.
    Pasta Alfredo, Vegan

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