Nothing boring about this tasty Braised Cauliflower with Pasta! Tender cauliflower braised in a delicious Italian-inspired tomato sauce coupled with penne pasta makes for a beautiful table presentation. This amazingly delightful entrée will bring the whole family to the table in anticipation. A fabulous Whole Food Plant Based recipe. Vegan, Oil free, sugar free, gluten free, no highly processed ingredients.
Hi! Robin here.
TP109 is always talking about how wonderfully creative his Italian relatives were back in the day. They would throw literally anything and everything into their Italian tomato sauce. I guess they got pretty gosh darn innovative back in the day. Things that I would have never dreamed of (at that time) were put into their Italian tomato sauce – like hard boiled eggs, raisins, tuna, peas, chickpeas, lima beans, green beans, whole carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, etc. This list goes on and on.
Pre-Whole Food Plant Based
Prior to going Whole Food Plant Based, some of those items seemed very odd to me. I would have never thought to put raisins in my Italian Tomato Sauce recipe.
Whole Food Plant Based Creativity
Since going Whole Food Plant Based, my mind is always going 100 mph thinking about how Monkey and I can take simple whole foods and make them unique, tasty and bursting with whole food plant based flavor. If there is one sure thing, it’s all about getting creative in the kitchen. Monkey and I absolutely LOVE creating new recipes. We love converting classics into WFPB as well as trying to develop new fun recipes.
Trial and Error
Some days, things get really crazy in the kitchen. We are always creating and testing new recipes. We definitely have had our fair share of recipe failures where the flavor combinations just didn’t work out. We experiment a lot. You don’t hear about our flops, because they obviously didn’t make it to our blog. Additionally, there are times where we know we are on the verge of something wonderful, but it may take 2 or 3 times making the recipe to get the flavors just right before it hits our blog.
Dreaming of new recipes
Monkey and I both dream in recipes. I am sure other Foodies do this too. Some nights I just can’t shut down my brain because I am conceiving new recipes in my head or tweaking old ones. We laugh at each other because on any given morning, the first thing out of our mouths is “Ohhhhh guess what? I dreamed of this recipe last night, let me tell you about it . . .” It’s hilarious, because we both do this all the time. When you love what you do, you can expect some sleepless nights because your mind won’t stop cooking up a storm! LOL
Allow me to tell you more about the braised cauliflower recipe.
TP found a sale on cauliflower and brought home two. He said he just couldn’t pass up the $1.00 per head deal so he thought that Monkey and I could find something fun to make with them. I love that he is always thinking about veggie recipes too.
That was when I started thinking about all his great stories about how his Italian relatives put anything and everything into their Italian tomato sauce. When I told him that Monkey and I were planning to make braised cauliflower, he was all for it. He got really excited about the possibilities. TP loves food. He is always super happy when Monkey and I create new recipes. He loves to be our taste tester.
TP109 Taste Test
When Monkey and I plated this beautiful braised cauliflower pasta dish and invited him to try some, he was thrilled. He couldn’t wait until we were done photographing the dish. We plated him a healthy portion and sat back and waited for him to give us his food critique.
TP loved it. He said it reminded him of simpler times when you could find just about anything in your sauce. He gave it a 2-thumbs up and said it was delicious. He loved the tender cauliflower combined with the tomato sauce and penne pasta. He also enjoys our vegan “Parmesan” cheese.
We hope you give this dish a try, and that it puts a smile on your face!
This dish is so yummy! It is simple, yet looks complicated, but it’s not at all. It made a beautiful table presentation. I had already decided it was going to taste great even before I had taken my first bite simply because it looked delicious, and I am so happy to share with you that indeed it was. The cauliflower flavor is simple and uncomplicated. The tomato sauce is a perfect accent to its simplicity.
I loved using a large flat serving platter with a low lip for this dish. It just made the entrée look even more beautiful as the visual presentation was unhindered by the sides of a bowl. We used a gluten free penne pasta, but any pasta (of your choice) will work beautifully with this dish.
- Ceramic/enamel lined Dutch oven or other large kitchen stock pot. (Red Sauce and Braised Cauliflower)
- Large stock pot (cook the pasta)
- Large flat serving platter
Braised Cauliflower with Pasta
Yield 6 Servings
Nothing boring about this tasty cauliflower dish! Tender cauliflower braised in a delicious Italian-inspired tomato sauce coupled with penne pasta makes for a beautiful table presentation. This amazingly delightful entrée will bring the whole family to the table in anticipation. A fabulous Whole Food Plant Based recipe. Vegan, Oil free, sugar free, no highly processed ingredients.
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 1 – 26.46 oz. Pomi Strained Tomatoes
- 1/3 cup water (to rinse out the Pomi Strained Tomatoes container)
- 2 cups water (additional water)
- 2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 10 fresh basil leaves – chopped
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion flakes
- 1 teaspoon capers, finely chopped (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper (+/- to taste)
- 2 ½ teaspoons sea salt (+/- to taste)
- Pinch of red pepper flake
- 1 cauliflower head, cored and remove all outer leaves (see recipe notes)
- 1 ½ lbs. pasta (we used gluten free penne pasta)
Vegan “Parmesan” Cheese:
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- ¼ cup blanched slivered almonds
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (+/- to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
- Basil leaves, freshly chopped
Braised Cauliflower Instructions
- Find a pot in where your whole head of cauliflower will fit inside with the lid on. Make sure there is at least one inch of headspace between the lid and the cauliflower when it sits inside the pot. We used our large 8-quart ceramic-enameled Dutch oven. It worked perfectly.
- In a large ceramic/enamel-lined Dutch oven or similar stock pot, add the finely minced onion and sauté over medium heat until they begin to soften, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon or so of water if the onions start to stick and/or to prevent burning.
- Add all the other the remaining Sauce Ingredients (listed above) to the Dutch oven, bring to boil, then immediately lower to a simmer. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Add the cored cauliflower (see recipe notes on how to core a cauliflower) to the tomato sauce. The tomato sauce will come up about half way of the cauliflower once you place the cauliflower in the pot. Don’t worry too much if it is not exactly half-way. Spoon some of the sauce over top of the cauliflower. Cover the pot, and simmer on the stove top for 30 minutes over low heat.
- In the meantime, fill a large stockpot full of water, add a sprinkle of sea salt and bring to a boil to cook your pasta.
- Check the cauliflower for tenderness after it has been cooking for 30 minutes in the tomato sauce mixture. You can do this best by gently lifting the cauliflower with a large spoon and then insert a sharp knife near the core of the cauliflower. If the knife slides into one of the larger stems of the cauliflower easily, then it is done. If not continue to cook for another 15 minutes. We found that it typically takes 45 minutes to get the cauliflower tender. This is a dish where you want the cauliflower to be tender, but not falling apart. You want the cauliflower to retain its shape.
- In the meantime, cook your pasta. You want to time the completion of the pasta with the completion of the cauliflower (or close to it as possible).
- To serve, place the cooked cauliflower on a large platter with a small lip, like the one shown in the photo. Place about a cup of the tomato sauce into a separate large bowl, then placed the cooked pasta into the bowl and coat well with the tomato sauce, then placed the sauce-covered pasta around the braised cauliflower on the platter.
- Place additional sauce on the pasta that is on the platter.
- Optional: Sprinkle dish with freshly chopped basil and flat leaf parsley.
- Optional: Sprinkle pasta and braised cauliflower with Vegan “Parmesan” Cheese.
Vegan “Parmesan” Cheese Instructions
- Add all the Vegan “Parmesan” Cheese ingredients into a high-speed blender and pulse for one minute.
*Cored Cauliflower: Remove all the outer leaves of the cauliflower. Flip the cauliflower up-side-down and place it in a bowl so you can work on it without it sliding around. Using a sharp knife, start to remove the tough core of the cauliflower. You will need to work slowly and purposefully, gently removing the core. The key is you want to remove as much of the tough core as possible and keep the cauliflower head intact. In other words, you are removing the tough inedible core, leaving a hollowed-out core.
Storage: Cool to warm, place in glass/plastic storage and refrigerate. Use within 7 – 10 days.