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Garlic Butter Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato

15 mins Cook
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NomNom Recipes 7

Cauliflower, 1 lemon, 2 slices of bread, pasta, and a handful of utensils. It’s truly amazing how something so good can come out of so few simple ingredients. The crowning glory of these cauliflower pastas is pan gratato (aka magic toasted breadcrumbs).

I didn’t understand Meatless Mondays.If you’re grocery shopping over the weekend, doesn’t it make sense to cook fresh meat earlier in the week (i.e. Mondays)? ?

Garlic Butter Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato - NomNomWow
Garlic Butter Cauliflower Pasta with Pangrattato – NomNomWow

I think normal people try to start the week healthily by not eating meat on Mondays…not me. I usually do the opposite. Fresh protein the first half of the week, vegetarian/pantry meals the second half!

So I’m not going to share this on Monday to fill in on Meatless Monday. I’m one of those people who can’t resist a bargain so I’m sharing this.A huge beautiful cauliflower head for $1.49 I bought three of them when they were on sale at three.

Yes, that’s how I do it. Think I planned the recipe I posted with military precision? Too bad this bubble has to burst! Despite our best efforts, we cannot stick to a recipe release schedule. I go to the store with a list of things I want to make, but I’m curious about the fresh food they sell! Like a lamb shank. That’s why I shared my recipe for lamb shanks – they were 30% off!

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 (try this Roasted Broccoli with Pangrattato!) 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 no meat for carnivores!

Garlic Butter Cauliflower Pasta with Pangritata

Garlic Butter Cauliflower Pasta with Pangritata

Cauliflower, 1 lemon, 2 slices of bread, pasta, and a handful of utensils. It's truly amazing how something so good can come out of so few simple ingredients. The crowning glory of these cauliflower pastas is pan gratato (aka magic toasted breadcrumbs).
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
15 mins
total time
25 mins



  • 1 to 2 slices bread , crusts removed, preferably stale (enough to make 1/2 cup)

  • Oil spray (preferably olive oil)

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves , smashed (Note 1)

  • 1/2 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)

  • 1/2 red onion , thinly sliced

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red chili flakes

  • 1 lemon : 2 tbsp lemon juice + zest of 1/2 the lemon

  • Salt & pepper


  • Parmesan cheese , freshly grated

  • Fresh parsley , finely chopped (optional)




Dice bread - you want (at least!) 1/2 cup. Spray liberally with oil.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan into a bowl and sprinkle with salt.


Return pan to stove. Melt the butter and then add the oil. When hot, add minced garlic and simmer for 1 minute until fragrant.
Add cauliflower. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, then add the red onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, until cauliflower is golden brown and still slightly firm.
Remove the crushed garlic.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water. 1 minute less than the time indicated on the package.
RESERVE 1/2 cup pasta water. Then drain the noodles or use tongs to add them directly to the pot.
Pour the pasta water you prepared into the pot along with the red pepper flakes, and season with a little salt and pepper. Toss the noodles gently for 1-2 minutes until the moisture evaporates. A delicious sauce coating is left on each strand of noodles (this is called emulsification), and the cauliflower is done cooking.
Remove from stove. Grate the skin of 1/2 lemon and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over it. Throw fast. Serving
pan gratatos sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley


If your bread is not stale, toast it lightly in the toaster. Makes it easier to cut into small pieces. Peel the garlic cloves then use the side of your knife to burst them open but still remain mostly in one piece. 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 1 1/2 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!).
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