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Braised Cauliflower with Pasta

  • Author: Monkey and me Kitchen Adventures
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian


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.



Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 126.46 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

Other Ingredients:

  • 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

Optional Toppings:

  • Flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
  • Basil leaves, freshly chopped


Braised Cauliflower Instructions

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. 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). 
  8. 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. 
  9. Place additional sauce on the pasta that is on the platter.
  10. Optional: Sprinkle dish with freshly chopped basil and flat leaf parsley.
  11. Optional: Sprinkle pasta and braised cauliflower with Vegan “Parmesan” Cheese.

Vegan “Parmesan” Cheese Instructions

  1. 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.