Cauliflower and pancetta on pasta with a creamy melted parmesan sauce. Delightfully tasty and easy to make. You’ve got to give this a try.
First off….there are just 5 ingredients to this recipe plus salt and crushed red pepper. The whole thing can be made in about 30 minutes. Perfect for a busy weeknight meal. And it’s a refreshing departure from pasta and red sauce.
Ingredients in cauliflower pasta
It’s just 5 basic ingredients:
- Pasta…any shape you prefer to use
- Pancetta…or good quality bacon can be used for a smokier flavor
- Cauliflower florets
- Parmesan cheese…freshly grated is best
- 3 garlic cloves…minced
How to make it
Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta back in the pan and add about 1/4 cup of the reserved water. This will keep the pasta from sticking together while it sits.
While the pasta cooks, use a good sized skillet and heat to medium high. I used my 12″ All-Clad stainless skillet. Add the chopped pancetta, (or bacon), and cook until the fat starts to render and you get some oil forming in the skillet. This will take 6 to 8 minutes.
Next, add the minced garlic and stir it around for a minute to release it’s fragrance. Then add in the cauliflower florets along with some red pepper flakes and stir them so they absorb that flavorful oil. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, to soften and lightly brown the cauliflower. Use a fork to grab a piece of cauliflower to test the tenderness. It should be soft but not mushy, and not crunchy. Just right.
Lower the heat to low and stir in another 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water and the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted, gradually adding more water as necessary until you have a creamy sauce that coats your stirring utensil.
Add the pasta and stir to combine. Serve right away.
This can be made ahead of time, (that is what I did), and refrigerated, covered, in a microwave safe casserole dish. Save any remaining pasta water separately to use for reheating. It took about 6 minutes to reheat the dish with another 1/2 cup of water stirred in.
Since you have some leftover cauliflower, here’s a couple more cauliflower recipes to try:
Cauliflower Pasta-Pancetta and Parmesan
- 8 oz. pasta, farfalle (bowtie), or other of choice
- 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets about 2 1/2 cups
- 5 oz. pancetta, chopped into small strips good quality bacon can be substituted
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 oz. parmesan cheese, fresh grated
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain and reserve 2 cups of pasta water. Place pasta back in the pot and stir in 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking, use a large skillet on medium high heat and add the pancetta or bacon. Cook until the fat starts to render, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, stirring for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the skillet and stir to coat with the rendered fat. Add the red pepper flakes. Stir occasionally to soften and lightly brown the florets, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet, lower the heat to low, and add the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted, gradually adding more water as necessary until you have a creamy sauce that coats your stirring utensil.
- Add the pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. Taste and add salt, up to 1/2 teaspoon as desired. Serve hot.
This is a delicious side dish that we had with sauteed shrimp, a tossed salad, and a good baguette. The pasta made it a special meal.