Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Pancetta

Spaghetti al Cavolfiore e Pancetta


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta

Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta

By Giuliano Hazan

Published 2009

  • About

Cauliflower is a relatively mild vegetable, so to use it successfully in a pasta sauce it’s necessary to combine it with bold and savory flavors. This sauce works because of the generous amount of pancetta and because the cauliflower is sautéed long enough to concentrate its flavor. Also, the pasta is cooked in the same water the cauliflower is boiled in so it begins taking on the cauliflower flavor even before it’s tossed with the sauce.


  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 4 ounces pancetta, sliced inch thick
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano


  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. Peel the garlic and finely chop it. Cut the pancetta into narrow strips about 1 inch long. Remove the leaves surrounding the cauliflower and cut off the stem.
  3. When the water for the pasta is boiling, add the cauliflower and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. When the cauliflower is ready, lift it out of the pot and turn the heat down to a low simmer.
  4. Cut the cauliflower into small ½-inch chunks and discard the core at the bottom.
  5. Put the garlic, pancetta, hot red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat. After the garlic begins to sizzle, add the cauliflower, season with salt, and sauté, stirring often, until the cauliflower is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  6. After the cauliflower has sautéed for at least 5 minutes, raise the heat under the pasta water to high, add about 2 tablespoons salt, add the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
  7. When the cauliflower is ready add about ¼ cup of the pasta water, loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and remove from the heat. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the grated Pecorino Romano, and serve at once.