Pasta with the Cauliflower

Pasta with the Cauliflower
Joseph Mayernik: Creative Director

An Italian peasant dish originally conceived as a way to extend the meal, Pasta with the Cauliflower was born of the Great Depression. My wife Julie’s great grandparents didn’t have a lot of money and as a result they spent their summers hard at work baking and tending backyard gardens in order to provide flavorful yet inexpensive home-cooked meals for dinnertime. In the garden, cauliflower, zucchini and squash were grown in abundance and these vegetables were used as prime ingredients in a sauce-based spaghetti since meat was a premium. Cauliflower emerged as Grandma’s favorite garden vegetable to use, and in turn stuck with the generations to follow. Breadcrumbs that top the dish were traditionally forged from the leftover bread made from the day before.

And why is it called Pasta with the Cauliflower instead of Cauliflower Pasta? Cause that’s what Grandma used to say.


  • One head of cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • 7 cups of diced tomatoes
  • Bucatini noodles
  • Bread crumbs (Italian)
  • ¼ cup sugar


Cut cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and fry in olive oil and minced garlic in a large saucepan until just light brown. Use a saucepan large enough to hold the remaining sauce. Add diced tomatoes, parsley, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for about 6 hours stirring every 20 minutes.

Bread Crumbs:

Put minced garlic into a frying pan and apply medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, parsley, and sugar. Stir constantly until golden brown. Yes, it will take a while.


Add whichever pasta you like, for instance spaghetti noodles.

To Serve:

Take a large serving bowl and layer the bottom of the bowl with noodles. Add a ladle full of finished sauce on top of the noodles. Toss and coat them to avoid sticking. Repeat with multiple layers, noodles and sauce and tossing until at the top. Place the remaining sauce in another bowl. Plate sauce covered noodles and add additional sauce to the top if desired. Sprinkle top of the dish with breadcrumbs. Serve with garlic bread and enjoy.

This is one in a series of posts about our new project, called The Table—a cookbook full of favorite recipes, and the images and stories that go with them, from each member of the Brandtatorship team. From breakfasts to entrées, desserts to cocktails, we’ll be unveiling a new recipe every other week through the end of the year. So pull up a chair. We’re glad to have you. 

Photo credit: Rich Brainerd Studios