Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta

Don’t underestimate this pasta. It is ravishingly good. The roasted garlic transcends this pasta into deeply flavored deliciousness and the oven-roasted cauliflower is fantastic in it’s own right. All of the components of the silky, bright sauce combine to make this pasta dish incredibly tasty while still managing to stay light and fresh.

What To ServeIf you cringe regarding meatless meals, like a certain husband residing in my household, no worries! Serve this to vegetarian lovers or add some grilled chicken into the mix or on the side.

This pasta dish gained rave reviews all around our table and reinforced my love for all things roasted garlic.

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Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta

Yield: Serves 4-6

Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta


  • 2 heads garlic, papery skins removed, top quarter of heads cut off (on the pointy side of the garlic) and discarded
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound short pasta (such as fusilli, rotini or campanelle)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted


  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut one 12-inch sheet of foil and spread it flat on the counter. Place the garlic heads, cut-side up, in the center of the foil. Drizzle ½ teaspoon olive oil over each head and fold up the sides of the foil to seal well. Place the foil packet directly on the oven rack (not on the preheating baking sheet) and roast until the garlic is very tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil packet from the oven, open the foil and set it aside to cool.
  3. While the garlic is roasting, trim the outer leaves of the cauliflower and cut the stem flush with the bottom. Cut the head from pole to pole into 8 equal wedges and then cut the cauliflower into large bite-sized pieces. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  4. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the cauliflower to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the cauliflower is well browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes
  5. While the cauliflower roasts, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook until al dente. Squeeze the cooled, roasted garlic cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic to a smooth paste, then stir in red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Slowly whisk in remaining 1/4 cup oil.
  6. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the chopped cauliflower to the pasta; stir in the garlic sauce, ¼ cup cooking water, parsley, and ½ cup cheese. Adjust the consistency of the pasta with additional cooking water and season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately, sprinkling with remaining ½ cup cheese and toasted nuts.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook’s Illustrated

58 Responses to Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta

  1. Jane says:

    This was perfect and enjoyed by all, including my three-year-old who declared she didn’t like the looks of this dish, then proceeded to eat two portions and steal all the cauliflower from the serving dish as well as my husband who thinks he is not a fan of cauliflower… then after tasting it was astonished and said it tasted great. I believe that the little amount of sugar used for roasting takes away the slight bitterness really well.
    I also added a little cream cheese to make it a bit creamier in texture (bit like Alfredo sauce), but just two tbsp. Perfect. I added sliced roasted yellow beets on top because they were in season, we like them and they added some color.
    Thank you very much for a very creative recipe. I discovered it in your weekly menu and knew I had to make it!

  2. Gina says:

    If you grill out often, try making cauliflower in foil packets with butter and whatever seasonings you like (I usually use salt, onion powder and garlic powder for convenience, but roasted garlic would be even more awesome). Cook until the foil puffs up turning every ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the heat of the grill. It gets nicely caramelized and is delicious. This works well with most veggies, although cauliflower and asparagus are my favorites.

  3. Held Adesina says:

    O.M.G…… Made this tonight with the cheesy basil stuffed chicken! Absolutely DELICIOUS! We don’t like/cook cauliflower in our house but I decided to try, as everything I make from your website is a hit. Well, we’re now cauliflower converts 🙂 Thanks so much. Sending you love from London, England x

  4. Sara says:

    Wow! My family and I loved this recipe! So surprisingly flavorful, and it felt light but filling. Thanks for the great recipe!

  5. Jill says:

    my family loved this recipe! thank you!!

  6. Ashley says:

    I made this last week with campanelle pasta and my husband and I loved it! I would probably roast another head of garlic next time because I agree with another reader that the garlic flavor was not as prominent as I would have liked. Overall though this was a great combination of flavors and tasted like a light pasta dish. We also loved the roasted cauliflower and I will be making that on its own as a side dish with other meals. I had no idea how good roasted cauliflower could be since I am not a huge fan of it raw. Anyway, thanks for sharing a simple, delicious and easy recipe!

  7. […] ever so slightly from the recipe at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. I’ll admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of cauliflower.  It’s just never […]

  8. Carey says:

    Very neat recipe! We used it for meatless Monday, so I added a drained and rinsed can of cannellini beans to the pasta for the last couple minutes of cooking, to up the protein a bit for my meat-loving boys.
    However, we were completely underwhelmed by the garlic taste. You could smell it, and by itself it was yummy, but in the completed dish my husband denied there was even garlic in it! 🙁 Has anyone else had this problem? Perhaps I should try another type of garlic? Less lemon (which wasn’t that strong either)? (Granted, I think you would have missed flavor without it, but couldn’t tell it was garlic….
    On a happier note, the cauliflower was a huge hit, and I’ve made it that way a second time this week, and for a quick side to feed a big group last night, I used bags of mixed broccoli and cauliflower with this roasting method, and it was a huge hit! 🙂

  9. Gianna says:

    I made something similar to this the other night.. I topped it with breadcrumbs I toasted in a pan with a little olive oil.

  10. Molly S. says:

    Just made this tonight for my boyfriend and I. Ended up only using one head of garlic because it was gigantic but tasted just right. Boyfriend went back for a second helping so he must have like it. Will definitely make again.

  11. Sheila h. says:

    Yes! frozen cauliflower works. I boiled for 2 minutes to “thaw” and put it in the oven as directed. I have made it both ways, with fresh and frozen, and it is delish

  12. Emily says:

    Made this and will def be adding to my side dish (heck, main dish) rotation! I added a little heavy cream and chicken broth in place of the pasta water. Loved it so much!

  13. Jen says:

    Will this work with frozen cauliflower? I live in middle-of-nowhere Alaska where fresh veggies are hard to come by (at a decent price) in winter.

    • Mel says:

      Jen – I don’t know since I haven’t tried it, but if you do, let me know. The moisture content will probably be higher in the frozen cauliflower so I’m not sure how it will roast/crisp up but the flavor should still be good.

  14. Cafe Zupas » Blog Archive » how to: roast garlic says:

    […] Garlic Pesto Cream Pasta from Taste and Tell Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Potato Rosemary Bread from Taste and Tell Smoked Paprika and Cheddar […]

  15. Shannon says:

    I made your Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguine yesterday and LOVED it. Sadly though, my husband was not a fan. He claims he’s not a lover of “zesty” dishes (meaning, lemony). I was bummed because that probably would have been a frequent dinner meal of ours otherwise!
    Anyway, when I went grocery shopping last week, this meal was also a meal I had on my list to make, since some ingredients are the same…but now I’m worried as to how “lemony” this dish is? If you can really taste the lemon in this dish, would it be terrible to leave it out, or is there some substitution of another flavor that you think would work? I just don’t want to hear the same complaints twice – I’m sure you understand what a bummer it is to be excited about a new meal only to sit down to “um, I’m sure this dish came out exactly like it was supposed to but I don’t like this type of stuff” reviews!

    • Mel says:

      Shannon – the lemon flavor in this dish is definitely subtle – much more subtle than the Beach Street linguine dish. The lemon in the roasted pasta and cauliflower recipe just enhances the overall flavor and adds a bit of brightness. Having said that, you could easily leave it out to appease your husband and it would still taste delicious.

  16. hayley says:

    Okay, planning on making this this week ..but am a little confused. Do I end up using 2 while heads of garlic? Not just the individual ‘slices’?


    • Mel says:

      Hayley – yes, you want to use 2 entire heads of garlic and not just two cloves. It may seem like a lot but after roasting, the garlic flavor definitely mellows and becomes sweet and tender.

  17. Eirene says:

    I just made this! It was sooo good! ahh!! amazing! i also made the veggie lasagna.. I think i messed up on that one though. but this one turned out beautifully! so fantastic i love it!

  18. Emily says:

    This is probably my favorite thing I have ever eaten!! I love pasta…my family begged for the recipe….SO AMAZING!! Thanks for sharing. I liked the spiral roll recipe, along with the bread that I made with it…Oh my gosh!! tripple winners!!

  19. Heather says:

    So yummy. I added about 3/4 cup cream that I had hanging out in my fridge that needed to be used and it was delicious. Thanks for the recipe, you are my first stop when I am menu planning.

  20. Stephanie says:

    Just made this for dinner tonight and it is amazing! I love roasted cauliflower and it was SO good with the roasted garlic. Thanks for the great recipe – will definitely be using this one again! 🙂

  21. Jen says:

    This was delicious, loved it. My husband dug it, too.

  22. Jennie says:

    Oh, maybe I’m confused about the directions for this recipe, then. It says to roast the heads of garlic whole, right? Do I peel off the rest of the skins after it roasts?

    I have always used the method you describe in your tutorial for peeling garlic cloves. It’s the idea of peeling the whole head that confuses me.

    • Mel says:

      Jennie – sorry, that was my fault. I thought you were asking about individual garlic cloves. Sorry for the confusion! Ok, back to the question at hand. To roast a whole head of garlic, you don’t need to worry about the papery skins. Cut off a slice from the pointy end of the head of garlic so that the garlic cloves are “exposed” slightly and then drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and roast. Once it is roasted, the garlic cloves should easily squeeze out of their skins and you don’t need to worry about peeling off any of the papery skin since the garlic cloves pop out easily. Let me know if you have other questions.

  23. Jennie says:

    Ok, so maybe this is a silly question, but how do you remove the papery skins of the garlic head and still keep it in tact? What do you do about the skins around each individual clove of garlic?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jennie – that is definitely not a silly question! I have a garlic tutorial here that explains a bit about garlic and how to peel and chop it. You don’t necessarily need to keep the garlic intact – especially if you are planning on finely mincing it. I always give my garlic a good whack with the flat side of my large knife (as the tutorial states) and it is much easier to peel of the papery skins that way.

  24. Kari says:

    This was surprisingly delicious! My kids and hubby all loved it! It was even great as leftovers. I used whole wheat pasta with it! Yum! All your recipes I have ever tried have been fabulous.

    • Mel says:

      Kari – I agree that this meal kind of surprises you with it’s tastiness. I’m thrilled it was a hit and way to go on using whole wheat pasta!

  25. It seemed a little “dry” so I added 8 oz. of cream cheese – YUM! Even my husband who DOESN’T LIKE CAULIFLOWER loved it! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Karen – great idea with the cream cheese. You can also make it more moist by adding more of the reserved pasta water – but it sounds as if it was a hit the way you made it! Hooray!

  26. Mel says:

    Jessica – I’m thrilled you loved this dish so much, thanks for letting me know!

  27. jessica says:

    Okay, this was thee BEST dish I’ve made in a while! I absolutely LOVED it. Thank you!

  28. Leisel says:

    Are you kidding me?? This was an amazing recipe. I was really hesitant at first and was orginally going to half the recipe just to give it a try, but because I procrastinated dinner I was super rushed and forgot all about the halfing. It’s a good thing because my family LOVED this recipe. From my picky 8 year old to the starving teenage athletes it was a huge success and all requested that I make it again. I think it would come together in a snap with just a little practice! Thanks agian for another family favorite!

  29. KT says:

    We had this for dinner last night. So yummy! Thank you!

  30. Linsy says:

    I made this for dinner last night it was delish! Thanks for all the great recipes!

  31. Natasha says:

    I have never roasted cauliflower and now I suddenly need to try it instantly! I will be buying it tomorrow and try this out.

  32. Stella says:

    Yum, Mel! I love cauliflower anything. I will try this as soon as I see a pretty head of organic cauliflower at my local health food store…;-)

  33. Brittany says:

    i love your posts!!! all of you recipes are wonderful, i just have one question, on some of your recipes there is not a printable version i love to print them and keep them of file, is there any way to get a printable version an all the recipes? thanks

    • Mel says:

      Hi Brittany – I started doing the printable links last year so some of my older recipes don’t have them yet. I am slowly adding them as I go…hopefully there will be a printable link on all the recipes in the next few months.

  34. I LOOOVE cauliflower!! This looks so good, definietly going to try this soon!!

  35. Barbara says:

    Well it sure looks great, Mel! I do love roasted cauliflower and with garlic? YUM.

  36. grace says:

    raw cauliflower is like dirt in the mouth. roasted, however, it becomes meltingly delicious. great pasta, mel.

  37. Cauliflower is my favorite favorite vegetable! Thanks for this–can’t wait for fall to try it! 🙂

  38. Perfect timing! I have a huge head of cauliflower in my fridge and was going to search for a recipe. I’ll be making this dish tonight. Thanks!

  39. Bruce The Low Carb King says:

    Minus the pasta and this is a low-carb friendly item.

  40. StephenC says:

    This is fabulous. Another way to roast the cauliflower that will gain you some nice caramelization is to slice it into 1/2″ slices which will than lie flat on the baking pan. Also, an unusual kind of pasta that would go with this is strozzapreti. Hard to describe, but Google it if you’re curious. Thanks for whetting my appetite.

  41. Roasted cauliflower is one veggie I actually like! Tastes like popcorn to me.

  42. Kim in MD says:

    YUM! I bet this was really good! Roasting the cauliflower does something magical to it. People who claim to not like cauliflower gobble it up when roasted (like a certain husband in my house)! Thanks for sharing, Mel!

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