Home ยป Creamy Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo

Creamy Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo

Creamy Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo

No nuts, no dairy, no soaking, and no guilt because this creamy pasta sauce is made with a healthy secret ingredient. Can you guess what it is?

Well, it’s three secret ingredients actually. And they’re all incredibly simple.

Secret Ingredient #1: Cauliflower. Yep, this silky sauce is made with steamed cauliflower which gives it body and lightness at the same time. Similar nut-based sauces can be delicious, but ultra heavy. This is better ๐Ÿ˜Š

Secret Ingredient #2: Hemp Seeds. Sauces made from hemp seeds used to really intimidate me for some reason. I was much more comfortable using cashews, even though it meant taking the extra time to soak them. But I’ve found that hemp seeds blend up super smooth and creamy and help create a lovely richness that is essential when creating a creamy sauce of any kind. An added bonus is that hemp seeds are a great alternative to nuts, making them much more allergy-friendly, and there’s no need to soak them before hand. Just scoop and dump into a blender. How easy is that?

Secret Ingredient #3: Pasta Water. It’s been called “golden liquid” by the chefs at Bon Appetit Magazine for good reason! The water that the pasta cooks in is essential for creating a sauce that clings to every nook and cranny of the noodle. This is because the pasta releases some of its starch while cooking – and since we always season our cooking water with a few generous pinches of sea salt (….riiight?) – the water becomes an important ingredient in and of itself.

Something else you can keep secret is how easy this Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo is to make! All of the sauce ingredients simply get thrown into a blender and the machine does all the work of the emulsifying for you, creating a gloriously thick and creamy sauce that’s ready to pour over warm pasta in a matter of seconds! I won’t tell if you won’t. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The flavors in this dish are simple. It’s less cheesy and more lemony, which I think is a nice departure from the richer OG Alfredo. This version is zippy and bright thanks to lots of sunny lemon zest, and freshly cracked black pepper gives it a little kick. I like to add even more flavor and bulk to the pasta by adding extra vegetables. Greens like spinach or Swiss Chard are nice options. As are garlicky sautรฉed mushrooms or frozen peas.

And just as easy to customize is the kind of pasta you use for this dish. Use whatever you like! Traditionally, this creamy sauce is served with thick strands of fettuccine. Which, when perfectly cooked to al dente (2 minutes shy of the recommended cooking time on the package) can be unbelievably satisfying to swirl into a mound and devour by the chewy forkful.

But I prefer to use Rigatoni for this dish because I like to add extra veggies. And while long noddles are fun to twirl, they’re not the best at transporting chunky vegetables. Rigatoni on the other hand is particularly well-suited for this dish since the outer ridges hold onto the sauce while the the shorter shape helps to scoop up the veggies.

The real w-o-w factor comes from the toppings though. I recommend – no, I insist onlemon zest, a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, and copious amounts of black pepper. These are not “toppings” so much as important ingredients that go on top of the pasta.

Actual optional but recommended toppings include a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese, a tiny drizzle of good olive oil, and a handful of fresh herbs. Parsley or basil are my go to, but chives or thyme leaves are just as good.

This pasta is officially one of my favorite ways to eat cauliflower and it’s a nice way to sneak some veggies onto the plates of the vegetable-averse. It’s comforting and delicious and I just can’t wait for you to try it!

Happy cooking!

Serves 2

  • 1/2 of a head cauliflower (about 4 cups chopped)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/3 cup pasta cooking water
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 8 oz Rigatoni (or pasta of choice)
  • 1 pint of mushrooms
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 small bunch kale, Swiss chard, or spinach
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes + 2 tbsp of the oil in the jar
  • 1 lemon 
  • salt + pepper
  1. Wash and dry the cauliflower and roughly chop. It will all get blended later, so how big or small you chop doesn’t matter much. Just remember that the smaller you cut it, the quicker it will cook!
  2. Next, add the chopped cauliflower to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and cover with a lid. Steam until fork tender, usually around 8 minutes. When it’s nicely softened, drain the liquid from the pot and set aside to allow the cauliflower to cool.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking, chop the the mushrooms, mince the garlic, de-stem and chop the greens, and chop the sun-dried tomatoes into small bite sized pieces. Set aside for later.
  4. Next, warm a large frying pan over medium/high heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil from the sun-dried tomato jar and add in the sliced mushrooms.
  5. Toss to coat then the mushrooms sit un-disturbed for 3-4 minutes to brown. Then season with a big pinch or two of salt and add the garlic. Stir, and add a small splash of water to the pan if it looks dry. I sometimes add 1 tsp of dried thyme or Italian herbs here. Optional but it’s nice ๐Ÿ™‚
  6. Then add the greens to the pan with the mushrooms. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and steam for 3 minutes or until bright green and softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  7. Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When the water is boiling and 2-3 big pinches of salt and then stir in 8oz of Rigatoni. Cook for 1-2 minutes shy of the package directions to achieve the perfect al dente. You can taste one cooled noodle to see if it’s done enough. It should hold its shape and have a slight chew.
  8. While the pasta cooks, add the cauliflower to blender with 1/4 cup of hemp seeds, 1 tsp of sea salt, 1 tsp of garlic powder, and 3/4 tsp onion powder. Black pepper to taste equals about 12 grinds for me, but add more or less as you like. Then add 1/2 cup of unsweetened soy milk into the blender too.
  9. Carefully ladle out 1/3 cup of the pasta liquid, let it cool slightly, then add to the blender.
  10. Blend the sauce on high until very, very smooth. Be careful when opening it since some of the contents will be slightly warm.
  11. Finish by draining the pasta very well. Transfer it back to the pot and add the sauce, mushrooms, and greens. Toss the pasta with the sauce for 3 minutes on low heat until the sauce thickens and clings to each noodle.
  12. Finish by zesting one lemon on top and then adding the juice of half of the lemon along with a few more grinds of black pepper. Be careful to zest only the yellow part of the lemon and not down to the white part, which can be very bitter. And remember, the lemon and black pepper are important ingredients in this recipe. They seem like garnishes but they’re not “toppings” so much as important ingredients that go on top of the pasta. A lot can be modified in this recipe, but lemon, sea salt, and black pepper make up the bulk of the flavor in this sauce so go to town with the zester!
  13. Taste and add another pinch or two of salt if necessary.
  14. Garnish each serving with a touch more lemon zest and a wedge of lemon. I also like to sprinkle on fun toppings like a bit of vegan parmesan cheese or some fresh herbs like parsley or basil. Adding a bit of heat with red pepper flakes is nice too ๐Ÿ‹๐ŸŒฑ

Enjoy! 

Watch the Step by Step Recipe here ๐Ÿ‘†
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Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

Find me on: Instagram

4 Comments

  1. Sherri Ratliff
    March 31, 2020 / 3:24 am

    Your videos are always filled with such encouragement, elegance, grace, and delicious food. Iโ€™ve watched your videos for a year now and Iโ€™ve always likened you to a vegan Jackie O. Itโ€™s a pleasure to learn from you the combined arts of: simplicity, beauty, and dining with a flair for cultured design.
    We started our vegan journey one year ago, for my husbandโ€™s health, after a heart issue. He has lost 75 lbs. now and his health has been restored. Thank you for making this new journey so much more enjoyable.

  2. Leticia
    April 4, 2020 / 1:56 am

    After seeing it your video the other day, I had beef dreaming of it and I made this tonight! It was so good! I used an immersion blender so it didnโ€™t really get as smooth as Iโ€™d like, but it was still plenty creamy. The lemon was a great addition! Thank you for this recipe!!

    • Leticia
      April 4, 2020 / 1:57 am

      Oops!! Been not beef ๐Ÿ˜’

  3. Megan
    April 17, 2020 / 6:18 pm

    I made this recipe for dinner and it was delicious and SO easy!! This recipe is absolutely fail-proof! During the quarantine I have been trying, like we all have, to use all my food and I had a ton of cauliflower. This recipe is so simple and makes for the perfect hearty meal! My boyfriend and I ate this for dinner (and he’s not even vegan!) with mushrooms and kale and we both said how delicious it was. I am so glad I have more sauce left for the next few nights. Thank you for making such pantry-friendly recipes!

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