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The finished Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta with Pistachios

Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta with Pistachios

  • Author: Marie Bostwick
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 10 cups water
  • 2 T Kosher salt
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, quartered and with the leaves cut off
  • 8 oz. rotini pasta (can sub any curly pasta or macaroni)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional but this adds a nice little touch of heat)
  • 2 oz pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz mizithra cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup shelled, roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Bring 10 cups of water and 2 T Kosher salt to a rolling boil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the quartered cauliflower to the pot and boil 5 minutes. Carefully remove the cauliflower from the pot to a cutting board and allow to cool.
  2. Bring the cooking liquid back to a boil and add the pasta, boiling the pasta for about 7 minutes, until it is just al dente. Turn off the heat. Remove 2 cups of the cooking liquid from the pot, reserving it to make the sauce later. Drain the remaining liquid from the pasta and set aside.
  3. Roughly chop the cooled cauliflower into small pieces.
  4. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and fry in the hot oil for a minute or two, until it turns golden brown. Remove the garlic from the oil and discard.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the cauliflower to the pan. Sprinkle on the red pepper flakes and cook in the oil, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until you see deep golden, brown spots on the cauliflower.
  6. Lower the heat to medium and add the pasta to the pan. Add ½ cup of the preserved cooking liquid to the pan and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, until the pasta is tender but not soggy.
  7. Sprinkle the pecorino Romano over the pasta and cauliflower and stir, adding another 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to help the cheese melt more easily. Add the mizithra to the pan and stir. If needed, add another ¼ to ½ cup of cooking liquid make a smooth, creamy cheese sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  8. Scoop the pasta into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and enjoy.