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Orecchiette with Cauliflower


You'll love this tasty pasta dish from Carol McElheney of Elk Grove, California. This recipe calls for cauliflower, anchovies, and red-pepper flakes, a trio of ingredients often combined in classic Italian cooking.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

Source: Everyday Food, December 2006


  • 1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 to 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 5 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; add cauliflower. Cook until pasta is al dente and cauliflower is tender, 5 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Drain pasta mixture; set aside.

  2. In same pot, heat oil over medium; add garlic, red-pepper flakes, and anchovies. Cook, breaking up anchovies with a spoon, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

  3. Add pasta mixture, cheese, and 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, adding more cooking liquid if necessary to thin sauce. Add parsley; toss. Serve, topped with additional cheese, if desired.

Reviews Add a comment

  • ALR6671013DW
    28 MAY, 2017
    As someone who loves the texture of "el dante" cauliflower, but who quickly has had enough, the advantage of this recipe is to dilute the cauliflower with other harmonious ingredients. I don't like anchovies, so I replaced them with red onions and 5 more garlic cloves (see the similar recipe "Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Parsley, and Breadcrumbs") and with Feta cheese. Feta cheese, unlike those mentioned in this recipe adds little dots of a more lemony taste, so that the dish is not one uniform flavor. In the future, I will multiply the amount of garlic, onion, parsley and feta cheese that I put in this first time, the strong taste of anchovies needs to be compensated by other strong tasting ingredients. Just a warning: this recipe makes huge quan[filtered]ies, more than 4 servings. I almost didn't have a pot big enough to boil all the pasta and cauliflower, and my colander was definitely too small. If you are single or only a couple, you might want to make only half a recipe.
  • foodie72
    25 FEB, 2011
    Loved this recipe. I roasted the cauliflower for 10 to 15 minutes at 450F -- great flavour, rather than boiling it. I also doubled the anchovies.
  • laurajamroz
    15 FEB, 2011
    I'm a nutrition major in college and when in a rush or can't use our software, we use It's a wonderful site, just enter in the ingredients/amounts for the recipe and you can get a full analysis, even print out a nutrition label, the recipe, etc. for multiple/future uses.
  • MandeJill
    12 FEB, 2011
    Everything in moderation...has to have plenty of fiber with the cauliflower in can calculate nutrition values for recipes and individual ingredients here: I can't wait to try this combo-it sounds delicious!
  • Abeem
    11 FEB, 2011
    I, too, want nutritionals on all recipes. Hope this can get accomplished!
  • kitchenwife
    11 FEB, 2011
    I agree, ladies. EVERY recipe should have the nutritional info listed. That said, the fat content should be in the low range (5-10g) with the 1/2c of cheese. I'm going to try it - it sounds delicious. And what a great way to use cauliflower.
  • BeagleMother
    11 FEB, 2011
    That makes two of us, momma628.
  • momma628
    11 FEB, 2011
    oh how I wish we could have nutritional information with these great recipes