One of the best pasta dishes I've eaten in a long time! This roasted cauliflower pasta is flavored with caramelized onions, spinach and hazelnuts. Mostly pantry staples! 313 calories and 6 Weight Watchers SP
This roasted cauliflower pasta recipe truly stole my heart! I'm not exaggerating when I say it's one of the best pasta dishes to cross my lips. There's something about the combo of golden brown cauliflower, sweet caramelized onions and toasted hazelnuts that just WORKS.
If you're a lover of "all things" sweet-savory, you're going to love the natural sweetness of the caramelized onions, paired with some salty Parmesan cheese in one big skillet full of healthy pasta goodness.
Be sure to taste and season before serving to make sure you have the right balance of salt and pepper for your tastebuds.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS ROASTED CAULIFLOWER PASTA RECIPE:
- These are the main components need for this recipe (affiliate links included)…
- Pasta: I used whole wheat penne pasta in this recipe, but you could use almost any shape, from spaghetti to farfalle. Whole wheat pasta adds an extra dose of fiber, but regular semolina pasta works just as well. If you follow a gluten free diet, sub in your favorite gluten free pasta.
- Cauliflower: Cut the cauliflower into small florets, then toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and dried thyme. Roast until tender and starting to brown. The details are in the recipe below.
- Onions: Caramelized onions make everything better, and this roasted cauliflower pasta is no exception! See How to Caramelize Onions for more tips on making perfectly brown and sweet (without added sugar) onions.
- Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas are always part of my pantry staples. They’re great to have on hand for adding plant based protein to any meal. Drain and rinse well in a sieve or colander.
- Herbs: Dried thyme is added to the caramelized onions and the roasted cauliflower, and fresh parsley is stirred in to finish off the pasta dish. Adding herbs is a great to way to boost the flavor of any meal!
- Spinach: Stir a couple of handfuls of spinach in at the end. The heat of the pasta will wilt the leaves without making them soggy.
- Hazelnuts: The secret ingredient! Do NOT leave out the hazelnuts! Toast them in a dry skillet to bring out the nutty flavor. If you can't find hazelnuts, substitute with slivered almonds or chopped pecans.
- Cheese: I love a good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to finish off a pasta dish. However, leave it out or sub with a vegan cheese to make this recipe completely plant based. If using Parmesan cheese and following a vegetarian diet, be sure to look for vegetarian (rennet-free) Parmesan.
How to lighten up pasta dishes:
When I posted my One Pot Pasta with Chicken & Spinach, I shared a healthy eating trick with you.
Pasta dishes tend to be very carb-heavy, with a large proportion of the dish overtaken with pasta and a measly amount of protein and veggies. I’m not one to cut out carbs altogether, but I am committed to working more lean protein and PLENTY of veggies into my meals.
Use half the amount of pasta and twice the amount of protein and vegetables.
Most pasta recipes call for 12-16 ounces of pasta, but I’ve cut back to 8 ounces when making dinner for my family of four. Even when you’re using whole wheat pasta, an entire pound of pasta produces A LOT of pasta in relation to the other ingredients. And if, like me, you’re trying to fill half of your plate with vegetables, a pasta-heavy dish just isn’t going to cut it.
Tips for making this pasta with cauliflower recipe:
Important tip! Remember to reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. You’ll need it for making a sauce.
I always forget to do this before draining the pasta, so I’ve started placing a ½ cup measuring cup into the colander. When I see the measuring cup, it triggers my brain to scoop out the water before draining the pasta. Whatever works, right?
Boil the pasta water, then cook the pasta while the onions are caramelizing and the cauliflower is roasting. Everything should come together at approximately the same time.
Other vegetarian pasta recipes:
Roasted Cauliflower Pasta with Caramelized Onions & Chickpeas
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown.
- During the cooking, add water as necessary to stop the onions from burning and drying out. You may need as much as ½ cup. Be sure that all of the water is absorbed before removing from the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon dried thyme.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, toss the cauliflower with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- While the onions and cauliflower are cooking, bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Scoop out and reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta.
- Add the cooked pasta, reserved cooking water, roasted cauliflower, spinach, chickpeas, Parmesan and hazelnuts to the caramelized onions. Stir to combine.
- Stir in the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.
This post was originally published on January 4, 2017 and updated on March 18, 2020.
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