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Cauliflower, 1 lemon, 2 slices of bread, pasta and a handful of pantry essentials. It really is amazing how a few simple ingredients can be transformed into some SO GOOD. The crowning glory is the pangrattato (aka Magic Toasted Breadcrumbs).


I don’t think people ordinarily associate cauliflower with pasta, but can I tell you – it goes SO WELL! When cauliflower is roasted or browned in a skillet, it gets a slightly nutty flavour. About as different as you can get to bland, boiled cauliflower!

But the crowning glory of this pasta has to be the pangrattato. “Pangrattato” is known as the “poor man’s parmesan” in Italy and was invented as an economical substitute for parmesan. It’s just small chunky bits of bread, either toasted of pan fried with olive oil and seasoned with salt.

Anything you sprinkle it on – WOW! Salty bursts of crunchy, golden bread, it really can elevate the most ordinary of things into something seriously delicious! I sprinkle it on pasta, gratins and bakes, roasted vegetables and it’s fantastic sprinkled on salads too!

Cauliflower pan fried until golden in garlicky butter tossed through pasta with lemon and chili, topped with crunchy salty pangrattato. THIS  is Meat Free for Carnivores!

A handful of humble ingredients transforms into an incredible easy midweek meal. The key step is emulsifying the pasta (step 7) which is when the oils in the pan react with the starch in the pasta to form a sticky, luscious sauce that coats every single strand of pasta. It’s how proper Italian restaurants can make the most simple of pastas so incredible!
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 3
  • 1 to 2 slices bread, crusts removed, preferably stale (enough to make ½ cup)
  • Oil spray (preferably olive oil)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed (Note 1)
  • ½ large head of cauliflower, broken/cut into florets about 2″/5cm long (about 4 to 5 cups) (Note 2)
  • 8 oz / 250 g fettuccine (or pasta of choice)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ to 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 lemon: 2 tbsp lemon juice + zest of ½ the lemon
  • Salt & pepper
To serve
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  1. Dice the bread into small pieces – you want (at least!) ½ cup. Spray generously with oil.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the bread crumbs and saute for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the skillet into a bowl and sprinkle with salt.
Cauliflower Pasta
  1. Return the skillet to the stove. Melt the butter then add the oil. When hot, add the smashed garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Add the cauliflower. Cook, stirring occasionally, for around 3 minutes, then add the red onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is beautiful golden brown but still a bit firm.
  3. Remove the smashed garlic cloves.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water – 1 minute less than the recommended cooking time on the packet!
  5. RESERVE ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Then drain the pasta or use tongs to transfer it directly to the skillet.
  6. Pour the reserved pasta cooking water into the skillet along with the red chili flakes, a good pinch of salt and pepper. Gently toss the pasta for 1 to 2 minutes, until the water evaporates – you will be left with a luscious coating of sauce on each strand of pasta (this is called emulsification) and the cauliflower will finish cooking.
  7. Remove from the stove. Grate over zest of ½ the lemon and drizzle over about 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Toss quickly.
  8. Serve, sprinkled with Pangrattato with freshly grated parmesan and parsley, if using.
1. If your bread is not stale, toast it lightly in the toaster. Makes it easier to cut into small pieces.

2. Peel the garlic cloves then use the side of your knife to burst them open but still remain mostly in one piece.

3. It’s hard to measure cauliflower other than by weight which I never do! The best way I can describe this is to cut the cauliflower into 5cm/2 inch long florets about 1½ inches wide. Use enough to fill a large skillet (crowded) OR fill a standard size baking tray (sparsley).

Nutrition assuming 3 servings (they are quite generous size servings!).

Garlic Butter Cauliflower Pasta with Pangritata Nutrition

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