I loved gathering my family around the table for this good-for-you but oh- so- creamy pasta dish. They never guessed by looking at it that the creaminess of the tomato alfredo sauce comes from cauliflower & avocado! When they saw pasta with creamy sauce and crunchy breadcrumb topping, they were ready to dig in.
I’m finding it hard to believe that my girls are growing so quickly. I feel almost frantic to get them to the dinner table every day, just to hold on to the moments of us all being together as a family before they are all grown up and out of the house. I’ve found myself mentioning this quite often on the blog lately, but boy, with 2 of my girls already in high school, reality has hit that they are growing up fast and that time flies.
Thankfully it does not take more than pasta & a great sauce to make my girls happy to come to our family dinner table, and Ragu has made it really easy to obtain a great sauce with just a twist of a jar.
For this recipe, I did a little bit more that twist a jar open. I’m participating in the Ragu Ready. Set. Cook! contest, which is a contest that challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring a product from the Ragu line, plus a set list of other contest ingredients.
Ragu Ready. Set. Cook! Contest
Would you like to enter this contest? I will give more details at the end of the post, but the grand prize is $5,000, runner-up gets $1,700 & people’s’ choice gets $750. How fun would it be to win some cash while getting creative in the kitchen & feeding your family a great pasta dish?
To align with the contest, your recipe must include 4 of the below ingredients + Ragu. You may also use ingredients outside of the list in your recipe as well.
Here is the list of ingredients you must choose from:
- Italian Sausage
- Black Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Feta Cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Pine Nuts
- Corn Tortillas
- Spaghetti Squash
For my recipe, I chose pasta, cauliflower, avocado & breadcrumbs. I decided to keep it meat free as I am always looking for a hearty pasta dish for our Meatless Monday nights.
I love that you can now find pasta that has protein in it. The pasta I used in this dish had 17 grams of protein per serving in it, all from plant sources (lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, barley, oats & spelt).
Between the protein in the pasta and all of the veggies that create the sauce, I did not serve this pasta with anything but a few sliced tomatoes, the last from our garden. We didn’t even need a salad as the arugula greens were right in the pasta! It was such an easy, hearty meal.
The sauce starts out with an entire head of cauliflower. This is the key ingredient to making a creamy, vegetarian alfredo sauce. You simply cut up the cauliflower, put it in a pan with some garlic and water, cover & let cook until very soft. It must be soft if you want your sauce super creamy!
When I saw that avocado was an ingredient in the contest list, I knew it would add some good-for-you fats into the dish while upping the creamy factor even more! I added lemon for 2 reasons–to keep the avocado from browning & also to add some acid to the dish, which is always pleasing to the palate.
While your pasta is boiling & your cauliflower is getting nice and soft on the stove, prepare your avocado with lemon by smashing them together with a fork.
This is also a great time to prepare your crunchy breadcrumb topping. This topping takes the recipe to a whole new level! Putting just a couple of butter into breadcrumbs and adding just a bit of parmesan cheese makes such a great cheesy & crunchy topping to the creamy pasta. This is so much better for you than having cream, butter and cheese in large portions in the sauce like most alfredo sauce recipes call for.
Pictured above are all the components to the recipe that I prepared while the cauliflower is cooking.
Ragu sauce adds a ton of rich flavor & aroma to the sauce. Ragu has been an Assunta secret recipe since 1937 & is made with vine- ripened, slow- simmered tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. I love that there is no artificial color, flavor, or high-fructose corn syrup added to their sauces. They let us smell, see & savor their long-standing tradition of fresh taste, and they even offer an organic sauce!
The cauliflower should be cooked soft enough to easy break up with just a spoon. Look how amazingly creamy it is after blending! That is just cauliflower, garlic, water, salt & pepper. This alone tastes amazing, but for the contest, I wanted to kick it up even further.
I added the smashed up avocado & jar of Ragu sauce, then blended some more.
Isn’t that a beautiful, rich, creamy dreamy sauce? Can you believe there is no dairy in it?
I mixed the hot pasta and sauce together in a large pan, added the arugula and stirred until it wilted.
I then put it into a baking dish and topped it with the prepared breadcrumbs.
After just a few minutes under the broiler, the topping becomes a beautiful crunchy, golden brown & the parmesan cheese sizzles and smells SO good!
My family had no idea that the bread crumb mixture is the only place there is cheese in this recipe! They ate it up and asked for seconds.
So what do you think? Do you think you would make this recipe for your family? Do you want to participate in the Ragu Ready. Set. Cook! contest too? If so, keep reading for instructions after the recipe.
Creamy Cauliflower Tomato Alfredo Pasta with Arugula & Crunchy Breadcrumb Topping
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 head of cauliflower – cut up
1-1/2 cups of water
1 lb pasta
juice of half a lemon
1 jar Ragu Sauce, Traditional
1 cup arugula
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
Saute the minced garlic in the olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to cook for a few minutes, until the garlic is tender and fragrant, but not browned. Add 1 cup of water to the saucepan, along with the cauliflower, and bring the water to a boil. (The water will not cover the cauliflower, and that’s okay.) Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot for 8-10 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork-tender and very soft. You may need to add a bit more water if it evaporates completely before cauliflower is tender.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to instructions on the box. Drain and set aside in the large pan it boiled and keep warm.
Smash avocado with juice of 1/2 of lemon. Set aside.
Mix breadcrumbs with melted butter & parmesan cheese. Mix well and set aside.
When cauliflower is finished cooking, transfer all contents in the pan to the blender. Blend until very creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Season well!
Add avocado & lemon mixture. Blend again.
Add jar of Ragu sauce. Blend again.
Add sauce to the pasta & toss. Add arugula. Heat gently and stir until arugula is wilted.
Put pasta into a 9×13 pan, top with breadcrumb mixture.
Broil for just a couple of minutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasty brown.
Serve immediately while hot.
Ragu Ready. Set. Cook! Contest Information:
Ready. Set. Cook! challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring a sponsored ingredient, plus a set list of other contest ingredients.
Recipe Contest Elements:
- Entry phase –4 weeks from 11/2 – 11/30- (you can enter on Food.com/Ragu page. Live on 11/2)
- Rate and review phase –2 weeks
- Judging phase –2 weeks
- Winner announcement
- People’s choice award
- Grand prize $3,000
- Runner-up $1,250
- People’s Choice: $750
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ragu. The opinions and text are all mine.