Spicy Alfredo Fakeout

For the first time in what feels like a millennium, I feel inspired.  Amorphous words are trying to take shape within my skull, warming up to the thought of expression.  Ironic that they come full force on these most tranquil days, where scope of my eyes’ furthest reaches are suffused with white and nothing else.  I suppose the blank slate that is provided outside is enough to make anyone with the remotest sense of art or creativity want to paint, scribble, compose, or sing.  Honestly a part of me just wants to run around in every untouched field of snow and flounce about in its powder!  But I may be more productive and successful at attacking the blank pages that lie ahead of me instead.

I’ve also been affected by world news too; and somehow the privilege of being able to express myself seems all the more important when an entire country can shut off all internet communication in the wake of protests.  So I sat down and thought and thought, and wrote a little and composed some more.  I shan’t be sharing anything, not at the moment at least. But perhaps in the days or weeks to come you’ll get a taste of that.

However, I have been feeling more inspired in the culinary arts with each day.  Even G has commented that I’m improving—my confidence, composition, methods, and really, the final products—and it’s likely due to the growing comfort and familiarity I have with my space and my spices.  Having never cooked this much at a consistent rate, development was bound to happen.  I’m grateful for that, and I’m also hoping that it will remind me that consistency breeds improvement in all walks, be it cooking, athletics or, say, writing.  Now we shall see, will Alya remain motivated?

Enough of that though—you want to know how I faked out Alfredo, don’t you?  ‘Twas quite simple really; such a basic thought that I wouldn’t have ever thought of myself sadly, but was instead inspired by Rachael Ray. I was thinking back yesterday on the limited dishes I used to cook early in college—mostly chicken, mostly pasta, mostly fattening.  Oh the good ol’ days…  One dish in particular always caught my friend Tnut’s fancy—chicken fettucine alfredo—and so I decided I’d go down that road again, using a twist I saw on TV once.

The supreme fakeout? There’s no cream in this at all.  Only… cauliflower.  Yup.  And it was brilliant!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced (or 2 tsp garlic paste)
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Black pepper to garnish
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

Start with lightly sautéing the garlic in about 4 tbsp oil in a large pot, keeping it on medium-low heat so you don’t burn the garlic.  After 2 minutes, add the onions, lightly stirring.  In a few minutes time, throw in all the spices and the cauliflower (you can obviously use fresh cauliflower too—this happened to be in my freezer so I used it).  Make sure everything is well blended, and the cauliflower all seems coated with the various flavors simmering away and let that cook for a few minutes, until the veggies look to be getting slightly softened.  Add water at this point, enough to nearly cover the cauliflower, bring pot to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.

In the next ten minutes you can do as you please—twiddle thumbs, watch tv, write he next great American novel, dance the Macarena; I chose to prepare a contrasting side dish of bell peppers and mushrooms.  Super duper quick and easy too (see below for recipe).

Now that the cauliflower is super soft and hopefully the raw taste has been boiled out, turn the heat off and let it cool a little bit.  Now you could just mash it all up with a spoon if you like, or if you have a hand blender that you can just stick into the pot, then start blending your mixture.  If you have a large blender, pour it into that once it has cooled down a bit.  I alas am wanting in those respects, so I used my handy dandy smoothie blender (reserving the small cup for all cooking related ventures because I don’t want to spoil my fruit-infused large cups).  Lucky Alya got to spoon in the mixture about 5 times to blend it all, but so worth it!

Once that’s done, you have a beautiful creamy sauce that has a nice spicy kick to it, and just needs the parmesan cheese, so what are you waiting for?? Add it!

Separately boil your preferred pasta—for the healthy folks, go for wheat pasta, it’s lovely! And then toss that in with your sauce, garnish with the green onions and black pepper, and enjoy!  As you can see, a green side dish works well with this, hence the bonus below.

For the record, G was so amused by the novelty of this idea, and we both relished the fact that it was healthy without appearing so, that we plan to experiment with other veggies later.  If you happen to do so, let me know how it goes!

Bonus: Mushroom Pepper Steamy Stir Fry

1 sliced green bell pepper; a handful of crimini mushrooms sliced up; 1 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tbsp grated/chopped ginger, soy sauce, hot sauce, and chili flakes.  Basically heat a pan up with some oil and cook the mushrooms first so they get soft and tender, then simultaneously add the garlic, lotsa ginger, and bell pepper.  Add roughly 3 tbsp of soy sauce, a couple strong dashed of hot sauce, and a generous sprinkling of chili flakes, then toss and toss and toss on medium heat.  Once the flavors look to have sunk into the veggies, reduce heat to low, add a tbsp of water, and cover to let it steam cook to further soften the dish.  In 8 minutes more or less, you’re done.  And then you can return to your cauliflower.

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