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Lightened-up Chicken Alfredo

Cook Time:
25 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

I love this recipe because it tastes like alfredo sauce but it doesn't leave me feeling bloated. There's a "secret" serving of a vegetable in every bite. Plus, I can use gluten-free pasta alternatives such as garbanzo pasta or zoodles so it's easily customizable whenever I want something different.

Technique tips: Why cauliflower? It has a lot of water and can be a volumizer in sauces and soups. For a richer flavor, I like roasting the cauliflower to draw out its natural sweetness which balances the saltiness of Parmesan. Plus, it lessens the cauliflower flavor that many find polarizing. Steaming is perfectly and may be preferable to some as a time-saver. As a time-saver, use store-bought rotisserie white chicken meat. It's delicious and absorbs the flavor of the sauce well.

Swap options: Swap chicken for mini portobello mushrooms or black pepper for white pepper. To turn this into an alfredo bake, use pasta shells or macaroni instead of linguine, and after making the sauce, add all the ingredients to a casserole dish, top with more Parmesan and bake in the oven until golden-brown.


  • 12 ounces cauliflower florets
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • sea salt
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat linguine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup pasta water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pounds cooked chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2/3 pound asparagus, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • fresh parsley, to garnish
  • shaved Parmesan, to garnish



Set oven to 420 F. Add cauliflower florets to baking tray and lightly coat with cooking spray and add a pinch of salt (do not over-season since Parmesan is pretty salty). Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges of the cauliflower are browned. Alternatively, bring a pot of shallow water to a boil to create steam, then add the cauliflower florets. Cover and steam until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.


Prepare your choice of pasta or linguine according to the package instructions. Set aside and reserve at least a cup of the pasta water.


Set a medium carbon-steel skillet on medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and sauté onions and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onion turns slightly brown and translucent.


Transfer the onions and garlic to a blender, along with the cauliflower, almond milk, Parmigiano-Reggiano, white pepper, nutmeg and pasta water. Blend until smooth and fine. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. If you want a thinner sauce, simply add more almond milk or reserved pasta water until you reach desired consistency.


Season the chicken breast with sea salt and pepper.


Set the skillet on high heat, and once hot, spray with oil, then add chicken and asparagus pieces. Allow the chicken and asparagus to rest in the skillet until marks form, about 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and stir together, about 4 to 6 minutes.


Add pasta to the skillet and toss together using tongs, then pour in the sauce and fold everything together. Use as much sauce as you'd like and then store the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Garnish with parsley and cheese, and enjoy!