Creamy Cauliflower Pasta With Pecorino Bread Crumbs Recipe (2024)

By Alison Roman

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta With Pecorino Bread Crumbs Recipe (1)

Total Time
40 minutes
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Equal parts cauliflower and pasta, this one-skillet dinner is a vegetable-forward version of macaroni and cheese. A whole head of cauliflower browns and caramelizes in a skillet before being simmered with heavy cream, pecorino cheese and a bit of lemon zest, breaking down into a special (and yes, decadent) sauce to coat the pasta shape of your choosing. For those looking to make it their own, this pasta could absolutely handle a bit of chopped bacon sautéed with the cauliflower, or handfuls of leafy greens tossed in at the end to wilt. Whatever you do, do not skip the bread crumbs — they are a not-so-stealthy vehicle for more cheese, and also add much-needed texture to the finished dish.

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Yield:4 servings

  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8ounces rigatoni, ziti or campanelle
  • 6tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾cup fresh coarse or panko bread crumbs
  • ½cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), outer leaves and stem removed, sliced about ½-inch thick (it’s O.K. if it crumbles)
  • 1cup heavy cream
  • 1tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for serving
  • ½cup finely chopped chives
  • Red-pepper flakes (optional)

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

775 calories; 49 grams fat; 20 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 23 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 68 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams dietary fiber; 10 grams sugars; 20 grams protein; 976 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Creamy Cauliflower Pasta With Pecorino Bread Crumbs Recipe (2)


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Bring a large pasta pot filled with salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente; drain and reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.

  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re evenly toasted and golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add ¼ cup pecorino and toss to coat, letting the cheese melt and clump among the bread crumbs (think granola-like clusters). Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl or plate; set aside.

  3. Step


    Wipe out the skillet and heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cauliflower and season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower has completely softened and both the cauliflower and shallots are beginning to caramelize and brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

  4. Step


    Add heavy cream and 1 tablespoon lemon zest and bring to a simmer, then let the cream reduce and thicken, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and plenty of pepper; if pasta is still cooking, remove from heat and set aside until pasta is ready.

  5. Step


    Return the skillet to medium heat and add the pasta to the cauliflower, along with the remaining ¼ cup pecorino and ¾ cup of the pasta water. Cook, tossing to coat the pasta and thicken the sauce until it’s thick and glossy, and almost resembles macaroni and cheese, adding more pasta water by the tablespoon as needed, 4 to 6 minutes.

  6. Step


    Remove from heat. Divide pasta among bowls and top with pecorino bread crumbs, chives, more lemon zest, red-pepper flakes (if using) and more cheese if you like.



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Cooking Notes


Fat phobia in the United States is getting so tiresome. Eat whole foods and make from scratch. Knock off the processed foods and sugar. You’ll be fine.


With so many frustrated with the cauliflower not being done (personally I have never sauteed cauliflower) please roast it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes after being tossed with olive oil and a couple pinches of paprika and salt. Toss once. Rest the cauliflower and then saute as directed with the onions as they start to become tender, toss in the cauliflower, and continue with carmelization. A new depth of flower awaits. This recipe is so delicious!


This recipe is for creamy cauliflower pasta. While I am sure your recipe is tasty, you didn't make this recipe.


You really need to make sure you core your cauliflower deep or else break up the center slices by hand, because the core just won't work in this recipe. That said, this was an easy recipe to pull together after a long Monday. Didn't have a shallot or even a small onion but was fine without it. Used penne because that was what I had. Lemon zest is a must, and this turned out to be a surprisingly flavorful and satisfying dish. I love caramelized vegetables.


I made the recipe as written with some additions/substitutions. I used whole milk yogurt instead of cream. I added garlic to the bread crumbs and also to the shallot. I juiced the lemon that I zested and added all to the mix. In the last steps I mixed the pasta/cauliflower mixture with 5 oz. arugula. Delicious.


I just made this with purple cauliflower - I thought it was going to look weirdly unappetizing, but it was SO PRETTY! The cream sauce got this pastel lilac color, it was gorgeous with the golden breadcrumbs and green chives. This is what food bloggers' dreams are made of... if only I was one. Also 100% very delicious, and I agree with the other commenters who recommended coring the cauliflower really well... mine took more than 12-15 mins to cook - closer to 20-25.


The only major issue is that the quantities don't factor in the amount of cheesy breadcrumbs you'll eat because they're sitting in a bowl next to you while you cook. Really delicious - I used a ton of garlic chives and they were clutch. Subs for the cream would be entirely fine.


then don't eat it

Rebecca D

What a bunch of whiners! I made it and it was delicious! Too many calories? Eat less! Don't want to click on the recipe? C'mon? Step one should be at Step one, let it stay at step one. It was amazingly delicious


I baked the cauliflower, an onion, and some rosemary in the oven. Also substituted ricotta mixed with lemon juice for the heavy cream. The flavor was so rich and satisfying that my 12 year old was convinced that it had to be getting its flavor from bacon.


Great Recipe but has to be cooked in reverse The Cauliflower first Pasta last Buon Appetito


Alison, I have to tell you that I not only love your recipes, but I love your writing. You are the best! Thank you


This was lovely. Instead of pan-frying the cauliflower, I roasted it in a 400 degree oven while the pasta water was boiling/pasta was cooking. I also used oat milk in place of heavy cream (because it's what I had on hand). It reduced well and formed a flavorful sauce.


It’s not the calories it’s the carbs. Double the cauliflower and leave out the pasta. Sub chopped walnuts for the panko and three big leeks for the scallions!


I also roasted the cauliflower (tossed with olive oil, s &p until it was nicely caramelized in a 425 oven for about 20 minutes;( check after 15.) Then added it to the shallots that were already sauteed in the pan. Could probably have added the shallots and roasted them with the cauliflower-- will try that next time, as I will definitely make this again.


I used campanelle (ruffly, fluted pasta shape) and cut my cauliflower into equal sized florets as the pasta; had no issue with the cauliflower cooking completely. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of adding 4 oz of diced pancetta and halving the amount of oil. For the calorie conscious, you could probably use half-n-half in place of the cream and just simmer a bit longer. One suggestion is to drain your pasta before it’s al dente because it does continue to cook in the sauce.


Amazing recipe. Very simple with few pots used. I would HIGHLY recommend adding Calabrian chilies.


I made this last night. I did forget the lemon zest. My husband, who generally eats anything, didn’t like it much (he did eat it). I didn’t finish mine. There’s something about overcooked cauliflower that is just unappealing. It doesn’t smell very appetizing and the texture is mushy. Nope on this recipe.


This is a fabulous recipe. Followed it to a tee minus pasta water definitely add some pepper flakes and enjoy


This was delicious. I don’t have heavy cream in my fridge so used 2 percent milk which worked like a charm. I also sauteed a mashed up anchovy with the cauliflower and onion mixture for a flavor boost and included the red pepper flakes at this point as well. Cooking the veggies in a cast iron pan resulted in beautiful carmelization. A winner!


Delightful when made according to the recipe; agree that the breadcrumbs are the stealth star in this one alongside the tiny, crispy bits off cauliflower! Take time to really allow the cauliflower to deeply brown, as it adds much to this simply seasoned dish.


It was okay with a nice flavour but not sure why this recipe has a 5 star though. The cooking time for the cauliflower was totally off. On a personal note, none of the kids in my family enjoyed how crunchy the bread crumbs were.


Roasted the cauliflower while caramelizing two large shallots, garlic, and chili flakes. Added some freshly grated nutmeg. Took the cauliflower decently far in the oven in order to maximize the flavor, before transferring it to skillet. Added 1/2 cup white wine to bring shallot and cauliflower together. Cooked that off, added cream and splash of pasta water. Introduced pasta when very al dente and finished in the sauce with more pasta water and pecorino. Used parsley instead of chives.

Elizabeth J

Made as written, in a large skillet, except left off chives and added red pepper flakes with the cream. Absolutely delicious. No issue with cauliflower. It finished cooking in the cream.


More lemon zestMore sauce Pasta water Gf panko


This was delicious. I didn’t care for the croutons but I think my pan wasn’t hot enough.


Made vegan with soy cream, nutritional yeast and a little bit of apple cider vinegar. Also experimented with adding a bit of rice flour (tapioca starch would probably be good too) to get a bit of the ooey gooeyness you get from cheese.


This is one of our favorite bowls of comfort. If having friends over, they ask if i can make this. When a family needs a food hug, this is it. Very easy recipe to tinker - bacon gives it an extra yum. Lemon zest is mellow but it changes the dish to wow. We love this


Good but not fabulous.


This had delicious flavor. I prefer the texture and taste of roasted cauliflower, though, so I would probably just roast it next time and mix it in at the end. I used light cream instead of heavy and it thickened plenty. Also added 2 small cloves of garlic to the shallots and cauliflower. The crumbs really make the dish!

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Creamy Cauliflower Pasta With Pecorino Bread Crumbs Recipe (2024)


Is Cauliflower pasta good for you? ›

If you are looking for a low-carb alternative that is rich in nutrients, cauliflower pasta is an excellent choice. However, if you prefer the classic taste and texture of traditional pasta and are not concerned about the carb content, regular pasta may be the better option for you.

How many carbs are in cauliflower pasta? ›

How many carbs are in your Cauliflower Pasta? Our Cauliflower Pasta has 45g of net carbs per serving. When comparing gram for gram, our CAULIPOWER pastas have 18% less carbs and 19% less net carbs than other pastas!

Does cauliflower pasta spike blood sugar? ›

The fibre in cauliflower helps slow down sugar absorption in the bloodstream. As a result, it can help regulate blood sugar levels. Also, it can help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes.

Is it safe to eat cauliflower every day? ›

It also contains fibers that aid in better digestion. However eating cauliflower daily may hinder absorption of certain nutrients available in the other vegetables. Hence eating cauliflower once or twice a week along with other seasonal vegetables would be a better approach to incorporating other nutrients in the diet.

Is cauliflower healthier than pasta? ›

There are 5.16 g of carbohydrates in 100 g of fresh cauliflower, 84% less than in regular pasta. Cauliflower also contains beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, and folate.

What type of pasta is lowest in carbs? ›

Palmini low-carb pasta uses the interior of a type of palm tree to create a pasta-like substitution. If you've ever had hearts of palm, the taste is somewhat unique (some people love it, and others hate it). As far as low carb noodles are concerned, Palmini is a great option with fewer carbs than most.

Does cauliflower have more carbs than rice? ›

Both of these factors may reduce your calorie intake ( 4 ). In addition, cauliflower rice is low in carbs. It provides only 3 grams of net carbs per cup (107 grams) — 18 times fewer carbs than the same quantity of rice ( 1 , 2 , 3 ).

What is the healthiest pasta to eat? ›

6 Healthy Noodles You Should Be Eating, According to a Dietitian
  • Whole-Wheat Pasta.
  • Chickpea Pasta.
  • Veggie Noodles.
  • Red Lentil Pasta.
  • Soba Noodles.
  • White Pasta.
Jul 13, 2023

What veggie pasta is the healthiest? ›

Chickpea Pasta

Made of chickpea flour and water, this pasta has the same health benefits as a can of chickpeas. That means fiber, folate, magnesium, and potassium. It also has 15% of your daily value of iron and all nine essential amino acids that make it a complete protein. That's 12 grams per cup cooked.

Is cauliflower pasta low in carbs? ›

Cauliflower is another versatile, low-carb option when you want grain-free pasta. Like zucchini, you can prepare it in different ways for whatever “pasta” dish you're using it in.

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