Healthier pumpkin alfredo made with cashew cream sauce and sage brown butter. This tastes almost like a nutty mac and cheese, and it is absolutely ADDICTING!
Oh friends, we’ve hit the jackpot with this healthier pumpkin alfredo recipe. One simple swap makes this such a creamy and luxurious recipe without all that half and half or heavy cream.
Have you guessed it yet?
It’s homemade cashew cream sauce!
And it’s flavored with roasted garlic and simmered in a pot with nutty sage scented brown butter and what you’re left with is the most incredible, comforting to the core type of meal that even my not so veggie loving husband 1000% approves of. He happily gobbled up this pumpkin alfredo and seconds were taken so I know it wasn’t all just for show.
You guys know I love swapping out traditional ingredients like half and half and heavy cream for things like nut butters and pestos to make recipes healthier and more vegetarian-friendly. Have you made my secret ingredient tomato basil soup yet? It’s completely dairy-free and vegan-friendly, and I promise you, you won’t even miss the cream!
I’ve also dabbled with the idea of using veggies to make a healthier alfredo in the past, but then last year Pinterest exploded with butternut squash mac and cheese and somewhere along the way I lost my passion for it and decided to put it on the back burner for the time being. This year has been the year of CASHEWS. They are all up in the food scene, and so I thought why not use a homemade cashew cream sauce as the base for our alfredo? We’ve officially struck gold!
We’ve officially struck gold!
So really, this healthier pumpkin alfredo is a twofer. It starts with your basic, vegan-friendly cashew cream sauce which would work great on fettuccine or just about any other kind of pasta that you like and if you’re more of a zoodles or swoodles type of person, more power to you. But then we elevate it to a whole new level with sage brown butter and cheese. These additions also obviously make it vegetarian rather than vegan though so if you want to keep this vegan, first off, use olive oil instead of butter and vegan-friendly parm to finish it off. But what you’re left with is a silky, cozy not at all squash-tasting alfredo sauce.
And guys, I would guzzle this sauce by the gallon. Fall vibes all the way!
Let’s talk about the cashew cream sauce. It starts with raw, unsalted cashews that we’ll soak in a few cups of water for a couple of hours. This allows them to soften and blend effortlessly. We’ll pile it into a food processor or a blender with a little more water, a pinch of salt, and a handful of roasted garlic cloves. Then with the push of a button, you’ve got cashew cream sauce all ready to go.
Pst. A note on the garlic, you can certainly roast your own garlic if you’d like, but I usually just pick it up from the grocery store deli section. You’ll need anywhere from 5-12 cloves (depending on how much you love garlic), and it’s a whole lot easier slash quicker just to grab than to go through the trouble of roasting it yourself. Of course, if you’ve got plans to use garlic in other things, DIY is almost always better.
The next step in making healthier pumpkin alfredo is to heat a deep skillet with the butter and the sage. Allow the sage to sizzle and crackle and deepen in color for a few minutes then remove. Add in a whole cup of pumpkin puree, along with your cashew cream, and some milk. We’ll season this with a hint of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Then it’s as simple as letting the sauce heat through and thinning it out a tad bit more if it needs thinning.
You can toss in the pasta or zoodles and top with cheese right in the skillet or do it in individual bowls. If you’re anticipating leftovers, you can keep the sauce separate from the pasta.
Bonus: I’m also going to play around with adding chopped broccoli to the sauce and topping baked potatoes with it because I’m 1001% sure that it’ll taste just like the real deal broccoli and cheddar baked potatoes. For now, we’ve licked clean all of our leftovers, so this will have to wait till I make another batch of healthier pumpkin alfredo!
Sage Brown Butter Healthier Pumpkin Alfredo
Healthier pumpkin alfredo made with cashew cream sauce and sage brown butter. This tastes almost like a nutty mac and cheese and it is absolutely ADDICTING!
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 3/4 cup water
- 5-12 roasted garlic cloves (to preference)*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 ounces fettuccine or pappardelle noodles
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1- 1 1/2 cups milk (nut or cows)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- cashew cream: place the nuts in a bowl and cover with water, let soak for 2 hours. Drain, rinse and place in a food processor or blender along with the remaining cashew cream ingredients, blend until smooth.
- pasta: prepare the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid for later.
- pumpkin alfredo: Heat the butter in a deep skillet (with sides) over medium-high heat. When the butter melts, add the sage leaves, stirring often and allow them to brown for 3-5 minutes. Remove sage. Add the pumpkin puree, prepared cashew cream, and 1 cup of milk to the pot and whisk until smooth. Let the sauce thicken and heat all the way through. Add the nutmeg, taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired. Add the pasta and toss with the sauce, add additional milk or reserved pasta water to thin sauce to preference. Serve immediately.
- I’ve also used better than bouillion roasted garlic paste (affiliate link) in this recipe and it works pretty well in place of the roasted garlic. You’ll need between 1-2 teaspoons and you can omit the salt.
- You can also double or triple the cashew cream and store in the fridge for a couple of days or up to 2 months in the freezer.
- As the pasta sits, it will thicken significantly because of the cream sauce and the pasta itself. You may need to thin it out a bit more so make sure you have additional milk or reserved pasta liquid to help with that!
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