Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

Vegetarian Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce recipe at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet -

Making pasta is a bit of an ordeal of my house, since I have to make regular whole wheat pasta as well as gluten free pasta. Even so, this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment was enticing enough - Melissa from Smell’s Like Brownies’ recipe for Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

I liked her take on Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce for several reasons. First, it’s a terrific Meatless Monday dish, even if my husband thought I should have added some sausage to it. (Not a bad idea, frankly.) And second, because my daughter, Lucie, loves cauliflower.

Changes  to the recipe and cooking tips

Changes: I didn’t change up too much in the Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce recipe, except for the way I cooked it. For example, I left the garlic in the pan instead of crushing the cloves and removed them later. I also partially cooked the cauliflower, then added the onion and cooking both together instead of cooking them separately.

How to cut cauliflower: I don’t like tossing the cauliflower stems and just using the florets as it seems such a waste. Instead, I slice the cauliflower head into 1 inch slices, then break them apart with my hands into bite sized pieces. Yes, there’s a mixture of pretty and not-so-pretty pieces of cauliflower, but it all tastes good to me!

About the type of cheese: Any freshly grated Romano style cheese is perfect with Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce. I used a Romano-Pecorino cheese from Trader Joe’s that’s very tasty, so feel free to experiment!

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce recipe at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet -

The convenience of Gourmet Garden herbs: Instead of fresh parsley, I used Gourmet Garden parsley instead. I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with Gourmet Garden’s products, and love the convenience of squeezing out just enough for a recipe without having to buy a whole bunch of herbs. There’s nothing worse than throwing rotten parsley into the compost bin because you didn’t have another use for it before it went bad. If you wish, use the same amount of fresh parsley instead.

Serving the sauce: Since I made two kinds of pasta, I served the sauce on top of it instead of dumping all the pasta into the sauce pot. This also is a better way to do things if you plan to have leftovers as the sauce will soften the pasta, so by the time you reheat it, it’s sort of mushy.

Salt your water: Finally, don’t forget to liberally salt your pasta cooking water. In my opinion, this practically eliminates the need to add extra salt to your pasta sauce.

Vegetarian Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce recipe at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet -

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

Adapted from Smells Like Brownies adaption of the recipe from The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles


  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 pound whole wheat or gluten free spaghetti
  • 1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Romano-Pecorino cheese


  1. Start cooking the pasta according to package directions while you make the sauce. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet.
  3. Add the cauliflower and minced garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the sliced onion to the pan and cook until golden brown – about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and red pepper to the onion and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Then stir in the parsley and 1/4 cup of the grated cheese.
  7. Place one serving of pasta in a bowl or plate and liberally top with sauce. Serve immediately with extra cheese and crushed red pepper.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe

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11 thoughts on “Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

  1. Louise

    Love the spaghetti receipe . Always struggle to come up with ideas for using cauliflower apart from straight boiling or cauliflower cheese so this looks a great way to try a different vegatable for abit of variety.

  2. Lisa~~

    I love the idea of cauliflower in the sauce, going to give that a try as we’re big cauli eaters. My daughter is allergic to wheat and instead of making different pastas, we have completely switched to rice pasta, once you get used to it and add a sauce…you don’t even think of wanting wheat pasta any more…at least we don’t.

    If you haven’t already, I’d love for you to check out my group ‘A’ SRC entry Loaded Potato Soup.


  3. Shelley C

    For starters, this was a really nicely written post – clear and well organized. Which is really pleasant :) But most importantly, that cauliflower sauce looks and sounds amazing. Great choice!

    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      I’ve looked into getting an insert for the grill, but I’d have to replace both along with the dials and the center fan. Might as replace the whole thing due to the cost!

  4. Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

    This is a great post. Loved the way you organized the changes and tips. And the recipe sounds delicious. Nice choice. And yes, pasta does sound like an ordeal in your kitchen. Thanks for braving the inconvenience to share this with us.


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