Remember that time I spent a weekend in the Big Easy (does anyone actually call it that?!) eating alll the food? I promised you (and myself) that I’d create some Cajun-inspired recipes when I got home, and what do you know, here I am doing just that.
Emphasis on the Cajun-inspired. Because the “cream” in this creamy pasta is, well, a vegetable. Cauliflower, to be exact. And, in my experience, that doesn’t come close to authentic Cajun cooking. The restaurant that inspired this recipe certainly did not let any cruciferous florets near their creamy Cajun pasta. Nope, they used a heavy hand with the real cream, and it was deeeelicious. But in our own kitchens, we have to do things a little differently, right? That’s where the cauliflower comes in.
Have you ever made a cauliflower cream sauce before? Maybe you’ve seen the famous one on Pinch of Yum? When cooked and blended up, cauliflower makes a delicious, mild sauce that is great with pasta. It doesn’t taste particularly like cauliflower, and because of that (and the color, too, I suppose), it’s great for faking a cream sauce. Is anyone going to think there’s heavy cream in this? Well, no. But they probably won’t know it’s mostly cauliflower, either.
I highly recommend making this sauce with a Vitamix or other high-speed blender. That’s what will give you the real creamy, velvety goodness that cauliflower sauce is all about. If you’re using a regular blender or immersion blender, well, don’t expect to be wowed. <– Honesty is the best policy.
So yes, the creaminess in this sauce is anything but authentic, but the spice is the Cajun part. It has a nice little kick! Just the perfect balance for the creamy sauce, all brightened up with a squeeze of lemon. I’ve gotten to be more and more of a wuss with spicy food over the years (I blame Nate), so feel free to adjust to your desired level of spiciness. If it’s as cold near you as it is here right now, you might need a little extra to warm you up!
I’ve made this pasta several times, usually with a lot of vegetables (the way the recipe below is written). But it just so happened that on the day I thought I was perfectly prepared to cook this recipe for photos, the zucchini I had was bad, and the roasted red peppers were nowhere to be found. Classic food blogging fail! I decided to just go for it with the tomatoes and onions, so that’s what you see here. I highly recommend adding in the zucchini and peppers, too – or whatever veggies you happen to think would be perfect in here. After all, why not top a veggie sauce with even more veggies?!
This pasta is also crying out for some seafood, if you’re so inclined. The squeeze of lemon in the sauce and sprinkle of parsley on top would pair just perfectly with a glass of white wine and a few sauteed shrimp. Just saute the shrimp the same way you saute the vegetables – you can’t go wrong.
If you’re a pasta lover like me, you won’t be able to get enough of this dish. Make sure to serve it with noodles that will get completely coated in creamy sauce – spaghetti, linguini, and tagliatelle are all good options. Something you can twirl around your fork!
Mmmm creamy Cajun cauliflower goodness. Now just feed me a few beignets and I’ll be a happy camper!
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized florets (about 6-7 cups)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Cajun spice mix
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 small to medium zucchini, diced
- sprinkle of Cajun spice mix
- sprinkle of paprika
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- linguine or tagliatelle
- fresh chopped parsley
- Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower and simmer until tender, 5-6 minutes. The more well-done your cauliflower is, the smoother the sauce will be. Reserve 1/2 cup of the broth before draining the cauliflower.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add chopped garlic and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add Cajun spice and paprika and saute another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add milk, cooked cauliflower, garlic mixture, and lemon juice to a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix. Puree until smooth. If more liquid is necessary for a smooth consistency or to get your blender to move, add the reserved vegetable broth (or add more milk, if you prefer). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In the same skillet you used for the garlic, melt 1 Tbsp of butter. Add the onions and saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and sprinkle with Cajun spice and paprika. Cover and saute until zucchini is tender, another 5 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes and roasted red pepper and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon cauliflower sauce over portions of pasta. Top with sauteed vegetables and sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!