Penne with Cauliflower


This is a simple, surprisingly delicious use of cauliflower.  Taste cauliflower and garlic mixture before adding the penne to adjust flavorings.


  • water
  • salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
  • 2  to 4 tablespoons flavorful black olives, pitted and halved Kalamata or oil-cured
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes
  • 5 anchovy filets, chopped finely
  • white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound penne, cooked according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta water


  1. Place cauliflower in a large saucepan, cover with water, add salt as desired and boil until very tender. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic, reduce heat to medium-low and and stir for a minute.  Add capers, olives, anchovies and pepper flakes and sauté until garlic another one to two minutes — don’t let garlic turn brown.
  3. Deglaze pan with splash of white wine.
  4. Add drained cauliflower to the skillet, and mash it with a fork, stirring it in with the garlic mixture. When cauliflower is sufficiently mashed (you’ll want some variation in texture), taste and add salt and pepper to taste. If mixture seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of pasta water until silken.
  5. Add penne and ¼ cup grated parmigiano to cauliflower mixture, toss.
  6. Serve in individual bowls topped with parsley and grated parmigiano.  Provide additional parmigiano and pepper flakes.

2 thoughts on “Penne with Cauliflower

  1. Hey,
    I’m just wondering, did you make this recipy yourself? What do you think of it, what it tastes like? The picture looks really nice, to bad there’s anchovy and olives in there. I don’t think I would like it, but maybe I’ll try one of the others one day.


  2. Hello Niels,
    In fact my friend suggested this recipe. He prepared it once for me and I found it very delicious. The taste of the cauliflower is amazing with penne. And for the anchovy, you need not to worry about it cause the taste is mild, and you can prepare it without olives.
    Try it and tell me how it tasted like. I will be waiting.
    Bon appetit!


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