Creamy, flavorful, garlicy, and easy fettuccini alfredo using plant based ingredients. This recipe comes together without much effort and it’s perfect for a weeknight meal when you’re short on time but you still want something comforting and delicious. There are no weird ingredients in this recipe either. I created it for the everyday cook so that you can be successful on your very first attempt. I love to hear your thoughts on my recipes, so when you make it comment on the blog post or find me on Instagram and tell me all about it!
Before my fellow vegans jump down my throat about titling this recipe “Plant Based” I want to explain. There are a lot of vegan alfredo sauces out there and they are all pretty much the same. Bloggers just make a substitute swap of non-dairy for dairy products. That’s boring and overdone, plus if you can’t get those ingredients or specific brands (because vegans know that brand matters in terms of melt, color, and flavor) then you’re out of luck. So, I went rogue and designed this recipe to use common pantry and fridge items and easy to find ingredients. The result is a decadent tasting, creamy and smooth, incredible alfredo sauce. There is one ingredient that might throw you off though and say, “huh?” But keep reading or jump to the recipe and take a look. I promise, it works and it’s delicious.
Let’s start by breaking down alfredo sauce and how it’s normally made. This Italian dish started out as “fettuccini al burro” which is just noodles and butter with melted parmesan to create a light sauce. It’s a quick and flavorful noodle dish. Now here comes the Americans. Fettuccini alfredo here in America is a really heavy dish with a lot of sauce that basically drowns the noodles. It’s enough to make a Nona clutch her rolling pin to prepare to war. Americans skimp on the garlic, add in a lot heavy cream and oil and cheese, and serve the noodles wet with sauce. I wanted a happy medium of the two. Lots of creamy texture and light cheesiness, but not so much sauce that the noodles are gasping for air. Thanks Olive Garden for ruining Italian food.
If you’re looking for mac and cheese recipe check out this post! Made with hidden veggies and has so much cheesy flavor. It’s a staple meal at my house because it’s the number one asked for dinner from my kids.
Typically alfredo sauce is made with a béchamel base and then cheese of some sort is mixed in. Béchamel is something every cook should know how to make because it’s the foundation of every thick cream sauce like gravy, pudding, and soup. You start with a roux, equal amount of butter and flour, and then add in a liquid which heats until thick. The fat in the butter is coated by the flour and the flour starches work to thicken the added liquid. You make a roux so that the butter is trapped in the starches and combine with the liquid rather than remain separate. The butter also helps to cook out the raw flour taste which makes a cream sauce taste bland.
So, let’s talk about my recipe. It’s why you’re here. I’m tired of seeing recipes for “The Best Alfredo” sauce that just use a milk, cream cheese, and processed shredded cheese. First off, not everyone has a grocery store that carries a variety of vegan cheese options. Second, I can guarantee none of those are the best alfredos because they all just look like Elmers glue. It’s boring and not creative. I’m not even going to say mine is the best, but I can say that it’s creative.
Over the years I’ve come up with many vegan cheese sauce recipes. My Mac and Cheese uses potato and cashews. My pub cheese for spreading its basically just white miso and nutritional yeast. And I’ve made a Southern style mac and is a lot of vegan cheese and then baked. But for some reason one day I thought that really all you’re doing when you make a cream sauce is adding milk with starch. There’s rice milk out there. There’s a lot of starch in rice. So what would happen if you added too much water to rice and then cooked it till mush and then blended it? The result? A cream sauce that doesn’t need to be thickened with a roux. You’re basically just making rice milk but leaving in the starches. Two birds with one stone.
I know that people love to substitute things in recipes. Don’t. Sometimes it’s okay, but for this recipe to work you need to actually follow the ingredients and directions. There aren’t a lot of either, but they all matter and are needed. Going rogue could mean a bland sauce or texture that just isn’t right. Do yourself a favor and just follow the recipe.
Every type of rice is different in terms of texture, flavor, and aroma. Substituting the rice in this recipe will change the end result. I use sushi rice for this because it doesn’t have a strong flavor or aroma, like basmati or jasmine rice, and it’s the starchiest of rices which make for a creamy and smooth sauce. Plus, sushi rice breaks down the best because the grains have had all bran removed. If you use a brown rice or something it just won’t get very smooth.
Enough of this blog filler stuff. Let’s get to the reason you’re here. The recipe. Enjoy it, let me know what your thoughts are, and for the love of everything don’t deviate from the recipe.
Plant Based Fettuccini Alfredo
- 2 cups water (more as needed)
- 1/4 cup sushi rice (needs to be sushi rice)
- 8 cloves garlic, minced (use more or less )
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon white/yellow miso paste (not red)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter (I use EarthBalance vegan butter)
- 2 tablespoons roasted cashews (the kind you can find at any store, can be omitted)
- 1 pound fettuccini or other noodle
- 1/4 cup pasta water (see directions)
- Melt the butter and add the roasted cashews. Allow to soak while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- In a large sauce pot bring the water to boil, add the sushi rice, and once it returns to a boil reduce heat to medium. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
- Transfer rice and water to a blender and add in the nutritional yeast, miso, lemon juice, salt, and the butter soaked cashews. Blend until smooth. Leave the sauce in the blender until your pasta is finished cooking. Add more water if it's too thick. It should be on the thinner side because gloopy alfredo is gross.
- Cook your noodles in salted water. It makes a huge difference because the noodles are salted from the inside out rather than just flavored with salt. Once your noodles are cooked to al dente reserve 1/4 cup of the water. The starchy and salted water adds flavor as well as a sheen to the sauce. You should always do that when making pasta sauce.
- After draining the noodles, return them to the pot and pour in the alfredo sauce. Gently turn the noodles to mix and allow to rest in the sauce for 5 minutes before serving. Top with fresh cracked pepper and enjoy!
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