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Healthy fettuccine alfredo with cauliflower sauce and sweet peas

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Healthy fettuccine alfredo with cauliflower sauce, healthy pasta sauce, healthy alfredo sauce

When I first saw the recipe for healthy fettuccine alfredo with cauliflower sauce by Pinch of Yum on Foodgawker, I immediately fell in love with the idea of making a perfectly healthy alternative to my favorite alfredo sauce. Plus, seeing this sauce immediately brought back the memories of a few years back, during Atkins diet craze, when I used to make “fake” mashed potatoes using cauliflower and how much I enjoyed it!

Healthy fettuccine alfredo with cauliflower sauce, healthy pasta sauce, healthy alfredo

Making this healthy alfredo sauce has long been on my mind but what stopped me from making it was simple logistics: I would forget to buy cauliflower at the store! Finally, here we are – with several cauliflower florets in the refrigerator, I was ready to go!

I made several adjustments to the recipe to bring it closer to the true fettuccine alfredo:


1) I sauteed shallots and garlic in a little bit of butter which added a really nice subtle flavor.

2) I added 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to the sauce – you are, of course, free to add more if you like.

3) I added sweet peas which add a touch of sweetness and perfectly compliment just about any pasta dish. Sweet peas went perfectly with the creamy cauliflower sauce!

Healthy fettuccine alfredo with cauliflower sauce

What can I say about the result of this endeavor? I simply love cauliflower in mashed form! With the addition of a little bit of heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, and sweet peas, this dish becomes a pure vegetarian heaven! I literally could not stop eating it. Right now, my head is full of many other variations I’d love to try with the cauliflower sauce in place of alfredo, but for now, please enjoy this recipe!

Healthy fettuccine alfredo with cauliflower sauce and sweet peas

Healthy fettuccine alfredo with cauliflower sauce and sweet peas

Total time: 1 hour

Inspired by Pinch of Yum.


  • 1 big cauliflower floret
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 shallots, minced, or 2 tablespoons of minced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup (up to 1/2 cup) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) or more
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups fresh shelled peas (or use frozen)
  • 1 pound dried fettuccine pasta
  • fresh parsley, for garnish, optional

Makes 6 servings.

This cauliflower sauce reheats beautifully, so feel free to refrigerate the leftovers and reheat them later.

1) Clean the cauliflower head from green leaves, and chop it into reasonably large but manageable pieces. Place it in the big sauce pan with water, bring to boil and boil for 30-40 minutes until cauliflower is really soft. Remove from heat and drain cauliflower from water. Do reserve some cooking water.

2) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add minced shallot (or 2 tablespoons of minced regular onion) and minced garlic and saute until tender. Add heavy cream and Parmesan cheese and bring to a boil. Cook just for a minute, stirring, until cheese melts. Remove from the heat.

3) In a food processor, combine cauliflower from step 1 and creamy sauce from step 2. Process really well, until a very creamy sauce forms. Feel free to add more heavy cream or cooking water (using 1/4 measuring cup) from step 1 to thin the sauce if it is too thick. Transfer sauce into a large sauce pan and keep it warm on the stove top. Season with salt and pepper, and nutmeg, to taste.

4) Cook the peas in boiling water for about 5 minutes, or according to instructions if using frozen peas.

5) Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the fettuccine in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.

6) Combine the cauliflower sauce (from step 3), cooked shelled peas (from step 4), and pasta cooked al dente (from step 5). Toss to combine thoroughly – over medium heat. Stir the sauce constantly. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.



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{ 52 comments… add one }
  • Anne ~ Uni Homemaker May 22, 2013, 12:35 am

    This healthy version of fettuccine alfredo sounds divine! Love the addition of cauliflower and peas in here. Thanks for sharing your recipe Julia.

  • Monique May 22, 2013, 8:06 am

    I am sure I would love this..There is a recipe I make from J.DiStasio with pasta and cauliflower that I love..
    All your additions would be mine too.

  • Pasta is one of the best dishes…And if it is healthy like this one, it becomes a must-have. Great job!

  • Emy May 22, 2013, 9:52 am

    Sounds like the dish for my sister who loves cauliflowers!
    And maybe a sneak dish for her kids who hates veggies.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Tash May 22, 2013, 10:58 am

    Ah ha, something new to do with my cauli-cravings! I must admit I am intrigued by this idea of swapping one food for a similar-looking but healthier options. I know it’s often done in Michelin-starred restaurants as a cheffy touch, but I really like the idea of having (as you say) mashed potatoes but without the calories (and carbs!).

    This does look absolutely delish though – and quick, too. Once I get off my North-African/Moroccan/Lebanese food addiction, I will definitely make something like this. That is if I have any tastebuds left after all the Harissa! 😉

  • [email protected]'s Recipes May 22, 2013, 1:54 pm

    What a delightful pasta dish! Beautiful clicks, Julia.

  • Deb May 22, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Creamy and healthier, an impressive recipe! My family will enjoy this version of Fettuccine Alfredo!

  • The Café Sucre Farine May 22, 2013, 2:58 pm

    Julia, this sounds crazy-good and your pictures are extremely enticing! I will be picking up cauliflower at the market!

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu May 22, 2013, 6:22 pm

    I’ve been thinking about trying this since I saw it on Pinch of Yum! Yours looks soooo delicious, and now that two of my favorite bloggers have approved it, I’m convinced it must actually be that delicious! 🙂

  • [email protected] May 22, 2013, 6:31 pm

    It’s amazing what one can do with cauliflower! This looks to be not only pretty healthy, but exceptionally tasty. Really good stuff – thanks so much.

  • Patty May 22, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Your pasta looks delicious- I remember those fake cauliflower mashed potatoes and they were good!

  • Matt @ The Athlete's Plate May 22, 2013, 7:36 pm

    This looks delicious!

  • Liz May 22, 2013, 7:57 pm

    YUM! I love Alfredo, but not the calories. This sounds like a delicious option 🙂

  • [email protected] May 23, 2013, 9:33 am

    Looks divine Julia! I’m a huge fan of peas with pasta!

  • Ashley May 23, 2013, 1:41 pm

    So funny, I just made this sauce from Lindsay’s blog about two weeks ago. We used ours as a pizza sauce – amazing!

  • Gina May 23, 2013, 11:41 pm

    I remember those potatoes too, clever and can’t go wrong with less calories. Like that you cooked the shallots for more flavor. I probably wouldn’t be able to stop myself either.

  • Suzanne Perazzini May 24, 2013, 6:41 am

    What a lovely idea to make a sauce with cauliflower. Pasta is always a great staple for a meal.

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen May 24, 2013, 5:08 pm

    I really love the idea of the cauliflower sauce – this looks and sounds totally yummy!

  • Daniela May 25, 2013, 3:17 pm

    What a creative, delicious looking recipe.
    Love the idea of cauliflower with pasta, it looks so rich and creamy.

  • Michelle May 26, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Can anyone opine on the calories/fat in the dish? Maybe if you used GF pasta or Whole Wheat fettuccine? Thanks.

  • Laura Dembowski May 26, 2013, 3:20 pm

    I have made a similar recipe and love this so much! I saute the onions and garlic in evoo, then add the cauliflower and saute for a few minutes before adding chicken stock and simmering. Then I blend it, add a little pepper and almond milk and serve. I will for sure try adding peas next time!

  • Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef May 26, 2013, 9:58 pm

    i’ve made this recipe before…soooo good! lovely photos 🙂

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com May 28, 2013, 4:27 am

    Cauliflower is so so versatile these days 🙂

  • Baltic Maid May 29, 2013, 9:23 pm

    Healthy Alfredo sauce with cauliflower? This is brilliant!!! I really want to try this. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  • Beth May 30, 2013, 4:42 pm

    Hard to believe that this recipe could be made so healthy!

  • what katie's baking May 31, 2013, 10:19 pm

    the photos of this are beautiful! and it sounds super tasty, too!

  • Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies June 4, 2013, 6:05 pm

    I love the taste of alfredo sauce, but I can only have a little bit before I start feeling sick–it’s just way too rich! This version sounds much better. 🙂

  • Tallya July 8, 2013, 2:25 pm

    I don’t get it. You are still using heavy cream and cheese, and you are boiling the cauliflower for so long which kills a lot, if not all of the nutrients. It might be a bit less calories than the original alfredo but really not healthy at all.

    • Julia July 8, 2013, 10:57 pm

      The recipe uses 1/4 cup (up to 1/2 cup) of heavy cream for 6 servings. That’s 1/24 cup (1/12 cup) of heavy cream per serving. The recipe also uses 1/2 cup of Parmesan for the whole recipe, which is 1/12 cup of Parmesan per serving. As you see, simple math demonstrates how little of actual heavy cream and Parmesan goes into each serving, majority of food on the plate is cauliflower. And I don’t even know the nutrients of cauliflower – nutritious value was not the objective of this recipe.

  • Nadia July 22, 2013, 7:34 pm

    Omg! Delish!! I just devoured this alfredo! My brother,8, (who hates vegetables) ate a cauliflower based sauce which he said tasted sooo yummy.. I always hated making alfredo until I came across this one… Thanks for sharing! It’s definitely a keeper in my recipe book 😉

    • Julia July 23, 2013, 12:51 am

      So glad you liked it! I love this recipe myself and it’s got so much potential for more variations by adding various ingredients to dress it up! Thank you for stopping by and letting me know that it worked for you! 🙂

  • Jacqueleen September 3, 2013, 8:06 pm

    Made this for my husband and he thought it was wonderful.. he had thirds!!! as a wife of a picky eater this was a a small victory getting him to eat something healthy that I like too.. Thanks for the recipe

    • Julia September 6, 2013, 4:43 am

      So glad you both liked it! I love this sauce so much, I have thirds, too. 🙂

  • Rachael September 24, 2013, 3:55 pm

    Just have to tell you that I love this recipe…my 4 year old had seconds! I am now a big fan of your blog! Do you have any recipes for the crock pot or recipes that you freeze? I have two kids and work full time so I’m always looking for easy yummy recipes!

    • Julia September 25, 2013, 1:59 am

      Thank you! So glad your family liked the recipe! I only have 1 slow cooker recipe on this site. I was actually thinking the same thing yesterday – that I have to start making more meals that I could freeze and use during my workweek, because I just got a new job that’s very time-demanding, and I have to rethink the way I cook. So, I might be starting to make and post recipes that are freezer-friendly here soon. 🙂

  • Stephanie K July 14, 2014, 1:28 pm

    This is really yummy! I used about 1/2 cup of cream and figure that if you use the whole lb of pasta this entire batch is about 2200 calories. I made it for a 5 day lunch at work so comes in at about 445 calories per day. Thanks for the recipe, it’s very delicious!

    • Julia July 14, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Stephanie, thank you for your comment! I am glad you enjoyed the recipe! And thanks for counting the calories. It does make a great lunch, doesn’t it?

  • DianeKirkland November 16, 2014, 1:58 am

    I am assuming (from reading the recipe you linked to) that you mean a large head of cauliflower and not just one large floret (which is one small stem of flowers, many making up the head of cauliflower)? I look forward to trying this recipe. Thanks!

  • Shannon February 1, 2015, 7:29 am

    Just as a heads up, real Parmesan cheese is not vegetarian!

  • rosie February 1, 2015, 4:59 pm

    I LOVE this recipe. I’ve made it twice and it’s just fantastic. I use it to make my own version of my favorite (and terribly unhealthy) dish from the restaurant I work at: Blackened chicken fettuccine.
    I double the amount of cheese when making the sauce, and when it’s all done I throw in a mix of sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach, add the peas, and serve it with blackened chicken on top of wide fettuccine noodles. It’s fantastic even without the chicken. The texture is not as creamy as a regular sauce, but the addition of the saved water does help. Anyways, great recipe. I don’t think I’ll ever make a regular fettuccine again! Reheats well also.

  • MAYA @ MAYA- KITCHENETTE February 25, 2015, 8:34 pm

    I have to put this on the list of recipes to try. 🙂 Thank You julia for beautiful blog you have here 🙂

  • Musia June 10, 2015, 9:45 pm

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to make alfredo sauce healthier and I’m so glad I found this! Would the sauce workout if I just blend in the cauliflower with an immersion blender? I don’t have a food processor.

  • kathleen June 17, 2015, 10:32 am

    I’ve done a version with Greek yogurt so it takes all the guilt away from the cream but it doesn’t take away from the yummy taste.

  • Deborah October 30, 2015, 10:07 am

    Made this recipe last night. It turned out thick and creamy. It was eas to make. I didn’t use peas. I added mushrooms, tomatoes, and chicken breast to make it more family friendly and filling. Everyone loved it, even the picky teenager. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Debbie October 25, 2016, 10:27 am

    For those of you wanting lower calories or gluten free I spiralized zucchini in place of the pasta.

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