Creamy Cauliflower with Spaghetti

Creamy Cauliflower with Spaghetti is an irresistible pasta dish! The cauliflower is first sauteed with garlic and extra virgin olive oil, then it's slowly cooked down until the cauliflower melts into a creamy texture and then it's cooked with broken spaghetti. Topped with pecorino cheese, makes this a classic Southern Italian 'comfort food' dish that we think is better than mac-n'-cheese.  But don't take our word for it, you'll have to try it!
I made this dish for friends last week and decided to revive it from our archives.
This is an "all-in-one" pasta dish that is relatively easy, and can be made in less than 20 mintues.

In Italy this pasta dish is known as "pasta cavolfiori."  When Nonna Maria makes this "Pasta Cavolfiori" for her family, her grandchildren go nuts over it!  She cleverly hides the cauliflower in this dish, cooking the cauliflower down into a creamy mixture.  It's so creamy, the kids will think it's made with cream, almost like an Alfredo.  But the truth is, there is NO cream in this recipe at all! That's the fun part.

Creamy cauliflower with spaghetti is so flavorful, everyone will be asking for seconds without a doubt.  If you make Nonna Maria's "Pasta Cavolfiori,"  we can tell you that everyone will be licking their bowl clean!

For a healthier twist, try using multi-grain, or whole wheat spaghetti.


 Creamy Cauliflower with Spaghetti
  • 1 small or medium Cauliflower
  • 3/4  pound of spaghetti - broken into pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, plus a dash more
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves- chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 to 3 cups of water, as needed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Pecorino Romano grated cheese
Wash and cut cauliflower into chunks. Discard the core. 
In a large pot with 1 inch of water, add the cauliflower.
Cover and steam for 5 minutes. Drain water.  Remove and set aside.

In the same pot. Dry the pot with a paper towel.
Add the olive oil and heat on medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and crushed red pepper.
Sauté the garlic until golden brown.
Add the cauliflower back into the pot with the garlic and oil, and sauté together for a few minutes.
Add 2 cups of water to the mixture.  Add salt and parsley.  Cover.
Simmer on low for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked down to a soft, creamy mixture.

In the meantime, break the spaghetti into small pieces.
If you have a large cauliflower then you can use the entire package of spaghetti.
I prefer a lot of creamy cauliflower with my pasta, so I prefer to use less pasta in this dish.

Raise the heat and bring the cauliflower to a full boil.
Add spaghetti into the cauliflower mixture.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium.
Stir constantly.  This will need nurturing, like risotto. 

The water will get absorbed as the pasta is cooking. Cook the spaghetti for about 6 to 7 minutes, or until al dente. Gradually adding more water, (about 1/4 - 1/2 cup) as needed. The mixture will be thick and creamy. Keep tasting the pasta until it's cooked to al dente.

When the pasta is perfectly cooked.  I like to stir in 1 more "dash" of red pepper flakes. Turn off heat. Taste, and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Serve spaghetti with creamy cauliflower in pasta bowls. Add grated Pecorino cheese on top.
Serve immediately.  If the mixture is too sticky, stir in some extra virgin olive oil, or water into the pasta.

Serves 4 to 6

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