Italian Cauliflower in Tomato Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant

Welcome to Claire's

By Claire Criscuolo

Published 2014

  • About

I love this dish! There’s a lot of sauce and cauliflower and a little bit of angel hair pasta, so it’s beautiful, delicious, healthful, and satisfying while saving calories—better for you than eating a big bowl of pasta with a little sauce. If my calculations are correct, each serving is less than 475 calories.


  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Sea salt
  • 1 35-ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups water
  • Black pepper
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cover and cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened. Add the jalapeño, cauliflower, and basil leaves. Sprinkle with sea salt. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is softened.
  2. Add the tomatoes and water. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture to crush the tomatoes and break up the cauliflower into smaller pieces. Cover and raise the heat to high. Bring to a simmer (this will take about 7 minutes), then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook at a simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is cooked to your preference. Stir in the black pepper to taste. Taste for seasonings.
  3. Turn off the heat and leave the sauce on the stove to keep it warm while you cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and turn into a serving bowl. Spoon one-fourth of the sauce over the top of the pasta. Using two wooden spoons, toss to coat. Spoon the remaining sauce over the pasta. Serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese on top, if desired.