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Instant Pot Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pesto Pine Nut Parm

This recipe is a quick, easy, and healthy take on one of my favorite restaurant pasta dishes. The cauliflower alfredo is super easy, and it comes out so creamy and decadent, you don’t even slightly realize you’re just eating pureed cauliflower. The sun-dried tomatoes add an extra layer of umami, and the pesto pine nut parm adds the cheesiness you crave, with a hint basil. This is definitely a keeper. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, vegan
Servings: 4 people
Author: Michael Monson
The Components:
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Cauliflower Cream Sauce (recipe below)
  • Sauteed mushrooms and onions (recipe below)
  • Pesto Pine Nut Parm (recipe below)
  • 1 pound pasta of your choice farfalle or “bowtie” pasta is traditional
  • fresh basil
For the Sun-Dried Tomato Cauliflower Cream Sauce:
  • ½ head of cauliflower (stem and all, chopped up into slightly larger-than-bite-sized pieces or 2 cups frozen cauliflower) stem and all, chopped up into slightly larger-than-bite-sized pieces or 2 cups frozen cauliflower.
  • ½ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 heavy teaspoon of No Chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoons italian seasoning
  • pinch of red pepper flake
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and lots of black pepper to taste
For the sauteed mushrooms:
  • 1 12 oz package mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • A pinch of salt
For the Pesto Pine Nut Parm:
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
To make the Sun-Dried Tomato Cauliflower Cream Sauce:
  1. Add everything down to the chili pepper flake (do NOT add the sun-dried tomatoes) into an Instant Pot. Set for 4 minutes at high pressure. When the time is up, do not let the pressure cooker go into warming mode. Unplug, and carefully release the pressure manually. If you do not have an electric pressure cooker, you can cook everything on the stove top. Just add everything to a pot, and simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes until the cauliflower is very tender.
  2. Add the contents of the Instant Pot (or pot) into a high speed blender, and blend until creamy. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, or pulse the blender once or twice to get mixed in, but still whole. You do not want a pink sauce. Note: A high speed blender, like a Vitamix, is optimal for this recipe. A low-powered blender may not produce the same creamy texture, or if it will, it may take a few minutes.
To make the sauteed mushrooms:
  1. If using oil, add it to a large pan. Pour the mushrooms and onions in, making sure, as best you can, that they are in a single layer, flat on the bottom of the pan. If you want to make this oil free, do the same, but as bits of mushroom and onion begin to brown on the bottom of the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water to deglaze. You may have to repeat that process a few times until they are cooked through. Sprinkle the cooking mushrooms and onions with garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Cook until tender, flavorful, and caramelized.
To make the Pesto Pine Nut Parm:
  1. Add everything to a food processor and pulse until it forms a crumbly, Parmesan texture.
  1. When you’re ready to serve, toss the cooked pasta with the mushrooms and onions, and then sauce to your liking. If you are adding vegan chicken, make sure you have cooked or warmed it through before tossing it in with the pasta and mushrooms. Cover your sauced pasta with your fresh chopped basil, freshly ground black pepper, and a healthy shake of the pesto parm. If the dish isn’t green enough for you, add some blanched broccoli or sauteed spinach to the mix.