Vegan Vodka-uliflower Sauce

by Sarah on January 29, 2013 · 12 comments

Yesterday, I told you that in making my Meatless Monday A-Z Sweet Potato Vodka (Pizza) Pie Crust recipe I bypassed the need to drink excessively, then consume pizza, and just made the pizza “drink” instead.

There wasn’t only vodka in the crust, there was vodka in the sauce as well.

Depending on who you believe, vodka sauce was ‘invented’ either because the alcohol brightens and intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes…or as a Mad Men-esque corporate partnership in a recipe contest in the 1970s.

I always just thought of it as ‘that pink sauce.’*

*Of which the extremely elusive Newman’s Own version is the best (jarred) I’ve had…

pink...pale orange...whatever.

The ‘pink’ comes not from the vodka, but from the standard addition of cream. As part of Meatless Monday A-Z’s V is for Vodka challenge, I wondered if I could make a creamy vegan version…but without the ‘standard’ method of ‘creaming’ soups and sauces using soy milk or tofu.

Instead, I turned to cauliflower.

Frozen cauliflower, to be specific. After all, you might as well take advantage of its natural tendency to get soft and mushy (and the fact that it is cost efficient, and requires very little prep work). Adding cauliflower to simmered onions and garlic, along with a heavy hand of many dried herbs, gets you started on what would, quite honestly, be a delicious soup on its own.Water and time will get you started, and an immersion blender will make a chunky puree. Slowly adding in crushed tomatoes, blending in between each pour, will help smooth out everything into a seasoned, rich, and quite savory sauce.

And of course, we can’t forget the vodka.

Vodka really does add a brightness to the tomatoes, making them taste a bit lighter and sharper somehow. With the herbs, and the light heat from red pepper, there is an extremely complex and layered taste situation going on here.Use it on pasta. Use it on pizza. Or just eat it with a spoon like soup. [Which I may or may not have done yesterday for lunch. :)]

Vodka-auliflower Sauce

[Makes 8 Cups]

  • 1 medium sweet onion [~225g], chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt + pepper
  • 2 tsp. each dried parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 24 oz. frozen cauliflower, thawed
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • water
  1. Combine onion and garlic in a large sauce pan. Add water to cover.
  2. Bring to a simmer, and cook until onions are softened.
  3. Add cauliflower, spices, and herbs to the pot, stirring well.
  4. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring and mashing with a wooden spoon (adding water if necessary), until cauliflower is very tender.
  5. Use an immersion blender to make a thick puree of the cauliflower.
  6. Add crushed tomatoes in 1/4 cup increments, blending well in between each addition.
  7. (If needed, add more water to thin out sauce.)
  8. Stir in vodka and vinegar. Simmer until ready to serve.
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Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 29, 2013 at 5:20 am

I can always count on you to come up with something I’d probably never think of! I’m coming over for dinner. 😉

Liz @ iheartvegetables January 29, 2013 at 7:38 am

What an awesome way to sneak in more veggies! I LOVE IT!

Tricia @ Saving room for dessert January 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

You know I have to try this! Great recipe Sarah. Hope you are doing great.

Kristina January 29, 2013 at 8:51 am

I have always wondered the WHY of vodka sauce, as I happily eat it… All this time I have been using my beloved cashews for creamy sauces and bisques, I cannot wait to try the cauli!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance January 29, 2013 at 9:24 am

I love that you made it a “creamy”-ish sauce by using cauliflower. Is there anything cauliflower can’t do?!? Rice, pizza crust, mashed . . . . I love that stuff!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 29, 2013 at 11:27 am

This is what I was going to make of I’d had vodka! But I was thinking with tofu. Cauliflower is brilliant! I have some in my fridge. Now I just need to get to the package store.

Sonia the Mexigarian January 29, 2013 at 11:42 am

you had me at Vodka. LOL. This really does sound delicious. I can totally envision spreading it over some pasta. If I spot it at the store next time, I’ll grab some :)

Heather @ Better With Veggies January 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Creamy vodka pizza sauce with cauliflower as the cream? You are a genius – what an awesome way to up the veggies in the recipe and it sounds fantastic!! I’m glad I inspired you to buy vodka. 😉

Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness January 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm

This sounds really good! I love vodka sauce but the jared versions are so expensive! This would be a great use for the immersion blender my mom gave me for Christmas!

Diana @ VeggieNextDoor January 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Omg – I LOVE this idea, and not just because of the perfectly puny way. What a great easy, healthy, cheap, and allergen-free way to add ‘cream’ to a recipe!

Diana @ VeggieNextDoor January 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

And I meant punny, not puny. Dang autocorrect!

Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli February 7, 2013 at 3:50 am

I want to climb inside your head for a day and figure out how in the HAZELNUTS you come up with this stuff! Cauliflower in a SAUCE?! GENIUS!

I’ve been playing around with cauliflower myself this week…can’t wait for you to see it!! 😀

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