This meaty vegetarian Quick Cauliflower Bolognese is ready in under 30 minutes and made mostly from pantry staples, minus the fresh herbs and lemon zest. Don’t skip them if you can help it! For this recipe, we’ll prep one thing while the other thing cooks to make it as efficient as possible and get dinner on the table stat.
- 1/2–1 lb. of your favorite pasta, such as pappardelle*
- 1 c. grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)
- 1 c. grated sweet onion (about 2/3 large onion)
- 3–4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 c. tomato paste
- 1 1/2 c. grated cauliflower (about 1/2 small head)
- 1/2 c. whole milk
- 1/3 c. red wine (like a cabernet)
- 1–2 c. pasta water
- 1/3 c. grated parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
- fresh basil
- Make the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water liberally before adding in the pasta. Cook according to pasta instructions until al dente, making sure to reserve about 2 cups of pasta water before draining. We’ll finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.
- Make the sauce. Start by grating the carrot and sweet onion in a food processor. This can be done at the same time and ahead of time. In a wide-bottom saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the grated carrots and onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent. If browning, turn down the heat. Stir in about 1/3 of the salt.
- Meanwhile, prep the garlic and rosemary. After the sauté mixture has cooked for about 5 minutes, stir in the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute, adding additional oil as needed.
- Then, stir in the tomato paste and spread in an even layer along the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, to lightly toast. The sugars in the tomato paste will start to caramelize and begin to stick to the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, rice/grate the cauliflower.
- Next, stir in the cauliflower, milk, red wine, and remaining salt. Bring to a simmer and cook while the pasta finishes cooking. Reserve about 2 cups of the starchy pasta water. Add 1 cup into the sauce to thin and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta and parmesan and cook for another minute or two to heat through. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest for brightness. Taste and add additional salt as needed.
- To serve, garnish with additional parmesan and basil.
*For a saucier pasta, use less pasta and vice versa.
Tip: To quickly clean the bits of parmesan clinging to the bottom of the pan, wash with cold water. This helps to solidify and harden the cheese for easy removal.
This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit.