Fresh Rigatoni, Crosne & Creamy Cauliflower-Cashew Alfredo


We think that playing with new and exciting veggies is cool! Some are beauty queens on their own while others, like these Crosne, are diamonds in the rough. Today we’re taking a little extra time to dust them off to let this lesser-known but fantastic little tuber shine! 

You never know what you’re gonna find at the farmers market, thats one of the reasons we love em so much. Of course there are the regular things like mushrooms we make a bee-line for first thing in the morning when we get to the market, then we wander and look for anything new. We were in luck this month and found a new treasure to us. Maybe it will be for you too.


for the cauliflower-cashew buttah base
  • 1 large head cauliflower, bottom stem removed, cleaned and dismembered into large pieces
  • 2 C raw cashews, soaked in water for at least one hour (or overnight), then strained and rinsed
  • 30 g garlic, about 7-8 whole cloves
  • 1 t salt (Jacobsen’s sea salt)
  • 4 T rice vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
for the Alfredo-style cream sauce 
  • 2 C cauliflower-cashew buttah base
  • 2 cloves raw garlic, smashed
  • 32 g pine nuts, toasted, about 1/4 C
  • 2 t coarse salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 32 oz. unsweetened soy or non-dairy milk
for the guts of the dish
  • 1 lb fresh rigatoni pasta -  453 g = 1 lb
  • 3 cups water
  • 230 g cauliflower, cut into small florets, about 2-3 cups
  • 500 g Crosne aka Chinese artichokes, about 4 cups*
  • 1 T plant-based butter (we used Earth Balance) or oil
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine or water
for the garnish
  • thin chili peppers or red pepper flakes
  • fresh red vein sorrel, parsley or basil
  • coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • drizzle of truffle, parsley or chive herb oil


for the cauliflower-cashew buttah base

  1. In medium-sized sauce pot, add the dismembered cauliflower, cashews, garlic, salt, rice vinegar and bay leaf along with 2 cups of water and cover.
  2. Heat on medium-high until it reaches a slow boil, then steam for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through out and breaks apart easily. Let it cool, then strain and remove the bay leaf.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a high-speed blender. Start blending on low speed and, using damper/plunger, mash all the ingredients down to ensure everything gets blended. Add a few splashes of water or non-dairy milk only if absolutely needed (we’re looking to create as thick of a mixture as possible for the buttah so the less liquid the better). Once completely blended and smooth, measure out two cups and set aside (this will be used later to add to the alfredo-style cream sauce.
  4. Save the remaining buttah base in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week.

for the Alfredo-style cream sauce 

  1. In high-speed blender, add the 2 cups of cauliflower-cashew buttah base, garlic, pine nuts, coarse salt and black pepper and begin blending on low while slowly adding in the non-dairy milk. Increase the speed to high and blend for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is silky smooth.
  2. This will make 2 quarts of Alfredo-style cream sauce. Measure out 1 quart and set aside for this recipe. Save the remaining 1 quart in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week for other use.

for the guts of the dish

  1. Cook the rigatoni until al dente as directed on package. Drain and set aside. (see Wicked Heathy Tip below)
  2. Add 3 cups of water to a medium-sized sauce pot and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and Crosne and cook, covered, for 5 minutes until al dente. Strain and set aside.
  3. Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat until hot, then add the plant-based butter or oil (optional), diced onions and sliced garlic, then sauté for 3 minutes or until they begin to slightly brown. Next add the wine or water to deglaze, then add in the 1 quart of reserved cauliflower cream sauce. Heat through for 1 minute then add in the rigatoni.
  4. Add cooked pasta and Cauliflower and Crosne to the heating sauce and mix and fold together gently.
  5. Remove from heat and garnish as desired with the chopped chili peppers, fresh sorrel, salt and pepper and herb oil of your choice.


*Crosne may be substituted with fresh or canned artichoke hearts. We prefer fresh here because they provide a firmer, more contrasting note to the dish. However, if using canned, be sure to drain and pat dry well.

Wicked Healthy Tip: While preparing this in several steps we did the rigatoni, crosne and cauliflower florets ahead of time. When it was time to add the rigatoni to the sauce, we boiled a small pot of water and poured it over the cooled pasta to loosen and bring it up to temp before adding to the heating sauce.}


Crosne (aka Chinese or Japanese artichokes) are similar to Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes. Knowing is half the battle and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about these tasty bits! We first experimented with these little buggers by tossing them in a little olive oil, garlic, coarse sea salt and black pepper and roasted them in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes then topped with fresh parsley. Despite their odd shape resembling some sort of bug grub, they were slightly crunchy and creamy and absolutely delicious!


Our obsession didn’t stop there. We wanted to pair this crisp and creamy Crosne with pasta and smother it in a creamy sauce. So we go to work making a super-rich and creamy cashew-cauliflower buttah, which we elevated to an alfredo-style sauce that made a wicked delicious dish with a great balance of textures and flavors.

Can’t find Crosne? Keep looking! They are generally available in later fall/early winter. If you can’t find them, you can sub fresh artichokes for them for this recipe and still have a wicked awesome dish. Use canned artichokes if you absolutely must, but be sure to rinse well and pat them dry before using.


If you are wondering about the gorgeous herbage you see here, that’s red-vein sorrel, and we used it to add some freshness and contrasting color to the finished dish, it also adds a mild tangy and bright note. And we couldn’t resist adding in some fresh bird’s eye chilis for heat, but feel free to leave that out if that’s not your thing!


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