Reason #2,641 why I love Fall: All. The. Comfort. Food.
Seriously. Fall food is synonymous with warm, cozy, comforting meals that you’d probably feel a little guilty eating during swimsuit season. Pumpkin pie, apple crisp, beef stew, mac & cheese… But the great thing about being on a Paleo or AIP diet is that the comfort food recipes are actually guilt-free, too! The best of both worlds, right?
Today’s Instant Pot Pumpkin Alfredo with Apple Sage Meatballs is healthy Fall comfort food at its finest! It has the richness of a traditional alfredo, but without the heaviness of dairy or cheese, thanks to creamy pumpkin, cauliflower, white sweet potato, and coconut milk! And the meatballs are super flavorful and tasty, even without added fillers like flour or breadcrumbs.
And the best part of all is that this meal can be made on a weeknight, thanks to the speedy Instant Pot! Wow, so many things I love all in one recipe! Don’t just take my word for it – add my Instant Pot Pumpkin Alfredo with Apple Sage Meatballs to your Fall dinner menu this month and try it for yourself!
Are you sick of pumpkin recipes yet? Me either. 🙂 Now that “Aug-tober” (as nicknamed by the Weather Channel) is feeling more like Fall and less like Summer, I can finally share this recipe with you! It’s a warm, hearty, feel-good meal that you could eat over your favorite pasta, rice, or really, even on its own. Since I was in the pasta mood when I created this, I went with my favorite veggie pasta – spaghetti squash. We’re in prime squash season, so you can find these gems at most grocery stores for a reasonable price.
If you’re following my lead and also trying a veggie-based pasta substitute, I recommend preparing it ahead, if possible. I roasted my spaghetti squash and shredded it a day before so that the dinner prep would be much simpler. It’s these little shortcuts that make living on an AIP or Paleo diet much more manageable!
If you’d rather not go to the trouble with spaghetti squash, I highly recommend checking your grocery store’s produce section for already spiralized veggies, like sweet potato, zucchini, carrot, and parsnip. Trader Joe’s also has a wonderful array of ready-made veggie noodles, and you can even find cauliflower rice and carrot noodles in their freezer section! Endless easy possibilities! 🙂
Since I’m still currently nightshade-free, this Instant Pot Pumpkin Alfredo is completely tomato-free. Instead, it features the Fall flavors of pumpkin, apple, sage, and a touch of cinnamon. The Apple Sage Meatballs make a perfect compliment to the autumnal sauce, thanks to the combination of savory herbs, sweet apple, and juicy pork. (You could also substitute ground turkey, beef, or chicken, if need be.)
I should also note that if you’re sensitive to onions (as they can be hard to digest), just omit them. Otherwise, chop them finely (unlike I did – oops!), since you don’t precook them before mixing them into the meatballs. If you prefer a sweeter onion flavor, you can caramelize the chopped onions before adding them to the meatball mixture. Once the meatballs are formed, they simply bake in the oven while the sauce cooks easily in the Instant Pot!
If you don’t have an Instant Pot yet, add this recipe to a long list of reasons to buy one! And great news- they almost ALWAYS go on sale for Black Friday, so keep an eye out and snag it for an amazing Christmas gift! (My Instant Pot is now a year old and I haven’t had any issues with it. And I use it at least 2-3 times per week! I can’t recommend it highly enough!!)
In addition to my beloved Instant Pot, you might have spotted another kitchen gadget that keeps reappearing in my recipes: the Cuisinart hand blender. This handy appliance allows you to blend my Pumpkin Alfredo sauce directly in the Instant Pot after it’s finished cooking. If you’re hand blender-less, not to worry! You can still blend up this yummy sauce with a traditional blender, but it’ll be messier! So, while you’re Instant Pot shopping, grab an inexpensive hand blender on Amazon, too!
The result of the Instant Pot and hand blender is this silky smooth, dairy-free Pumpkin Alfredo sauce that you could really use as a versatile sauce for any pasta or even pizza! One batch of this sauce goes a long way, too!
Well, I better let you get started on my new Fall dinner favorite, so you can join me in savoring mouthfuls of creamy Instant Pot Pumpkin Alfredo with Apple Sage Meatballs! This tastes even better when eaten in front of a cozy, candlelit table or crackling fire with a mug of hot cider! And it’s perfect served along with one of my Fall salads – either this one or that one. 🙂 Happy eating, friends!
- 2 lbs ground pork (or turkey)
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ head cauliflower, chopped (about 4 cups florets)
- 1-15 oz. can of pumpkin
- 2 white sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped
- 2-14 ounce cans full-fat coconut milk, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped sage
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus extra to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra chopped sage for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine Apple Sage Meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, using your hands. Form golf ball-sized meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, add all of the Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce ingredients to the Instant Pot, except for the second can of coconut milk and extra sage. Select the "Steam" setting on high pressure for 4 minutes. Quick release the steam after time is up, then blend with a hand blender or transfer mixture to a full-size blender, adding an additional ¾ - 1 cup of coconut milk to thin down sauce.
- Sprinkle extra sage over the sauce.
- Serve sauce and meatballs over your favorite pasta or rice. I recommend spaghetti squash!
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