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Close-up view of bowl of pasta with cauliflower and pancetta.

Cauliflower Pasta-Pancetta and Parmesan

Easy to make main dish with cauliflower and flavorful pancetta and parmesan
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine American
Keyword cauliflower pasta, pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 5 servings
Calories 360kcal
Author Joe Boyle


  • 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.


Good quality bacon can be used rather than pancetta. This will impart a smokier flavor.
When stirring in the Parmesan cheese a creamy sauce will start to form on your stirring utensil when enough water is added.
This dish can be prepared ahead of time and microwaved to reheat. Save the reserved pasta water separately to mix in while reheating.


Calories: 360kcal