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Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta

Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta

Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta is pretty much my childhood in a bowl.  We all have that one dish–whether it’s macaroni and cheese,  maybe a casserole, something–that our mothers made growing up, and every time we eat it, we are taken back.  This is it right here, for me.

Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta. A dynamite vegetarian pasta with sauteed cauliflower, garlicky tomatoes, and lots of cheese.

Hopefully, my kids will be taken back to their childhood when they eat it as adults, too!  I’ve been craving Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta for a while now, and yesterday felt like the perfect day to make it.  The snow was coming down in sheets, and seeing how it is now March, well, let’s just say we are all ready for winter to be over here in Washington state.  So to cheer up, I fired up the stove and began preparing this wonderfully cheesy, simple dish.   And oh my, it did not disappoint!

Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta. A dynamite vegetarian pasta with sauteed cauliflower, garlicky tomatoes, and lots of cheese.

The simple, garlicky pureed tomatoes compliment the tender cauliflower perfectly, and that cheese!  Perfection.  I thought about tweaking this recipe a bit; maybe switching out the cheddar cheese for something more elegant, but no, I couldn’t do it.  I could not change a thing about this recipe!

Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta. A dynamite vegetarian pasta with sauteed cauliflower, garlicky tomatoes, and lots of cheese.

The recipe calls for pureed tomatoes, and you can either use canned, or make your own from fresh, as I did for the pasta you see in the pictures.  If you happen to have about 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes available, see the notes on how to make fresh tomato puree.  It is so simple to make, and since you will already have a pot of water boiling for the pasta, it literally just involves plopping the tomatoes in the pot for 60 seconds before you cook the noodles, slipping the skins off, and running them through the food processor for a bit.  Easy-peasy.  But canned works just fine, too.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have over the years!

This recipe was adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook, from an early edition that my mother says is no longer in circulation.

Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta. A dynamite vegetarian pasta with sauteed cauliflower, garlicky tomatoes, and lots of cheese.
Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta. A dynamite vegetarian pasta with sauteed cauliflower, garlicky tomatoes, and lots of cheese.
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Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta

Sauteed cauliflower, garlicky tomato sauce, and lots of cheese come together to make this dynamite vegetarian pasta.  

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Trails to Table

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium cauliflower broken into 1 inch floweretes
  • 3 medium garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cups tomato puree canned or fresh (see notes on how to make fresh)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb thin spaggetti
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat.  Add the bay leaf and basil.  Saute for about one minute, then add the cauliflower, and sprinkle it with 1 tsp salt.  Saute until the cauliflower begins to soften, then add the garlic, and continue to cook for another couple minutes.  Make sure the garlic doesn't burn.  You may need to add a little water (about 1/4 cup).

  2. Add the tomato puree, and lower to a simmer.  Cover the skillet half-way with a lid, and cook on low for about 15 minutes.  

  3. Cook the Spaghetti in salted boiling water, according to package instructions.  Drain, and add the spaghetti to a large pasta serving bowl.  Toss with the remaining olive oil, butter, and half the cheese.    

  4. Pour the tomato cauliflower mixture over the noodles, and top with the remaining cheese.  Serve immediately.  Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

    Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

To make 2 cups fresh tomato puree:  
Drop about 1 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes into the boiling pasta water.  Let them sit in the boiling water for about one minute, or until the peels just begin to wrinkle and crack.   Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place in a colander.  Run cold water over the tomatoes, and slip the skins off (they should come off very easily).  Using a pairing knife, cut out the top stem of each tomato, then place them all in the food processor.  Pulse until they are pureed to desired texture.     



14 thoughts on “Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta”

  • Great photos of a great dish! Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies and I like to grow tomatoes in the summer, so this is the perfect mix!

  • I don’t think I have ever put cauliflower and pasta together and I’m not sure why now that I’ve seen your pictures and recipe. Looks delish! I also like how you keep it simple with the tomatoes and cheese!

  • I love that you wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe. It’s great that you are passing on a family tradition to your kids. Thank you for sharing it here as well. Comforting for when it’s cold out but I can’t wait until tomatoes are back in season and I can make it with your fresh tomato sauce. I can see myself eating this sitting outside on a beautiful summer evening!

  • You had me at “cheesy cauliflower”! Cheese and cauliflower go so well together. I love the idea of serving it over pasta for a complete, balanced meal. The whole family will love this one! I’ll probably try making it with vegan cheese since my mom and I are mostly dairy-free. I’ll let you know how it turns out! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Thanks, Alyssa! Yes, tell me how it turns out! I’ve never had vegan cheese, but as long as it melts well, I’m sure it will be delicious!

  • I’m on a total cauliflower kick lately, I can’t wait to make this! Love that it’s ready in 30 minutes, too. I look forward to having fresh tomatoes from the garden so I can make my own tomato puree for this dish, the flavor will be fantastic! Pinning for later, thank you!

  • This sounds FANTASTIC. Lately I have been on some wierd cauliflower buying binge and then it sits in my fridge because I have no idea what to do with it. I made some pretty horrific things :\ I tooooooootally wished I saw this sooner! Now I know what to make with it for next time! 😀

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