Charred Cauliflower Carbonara

For  more than 30 years I hardly went near cauliflower except for maybe a few times I made soup with it.  It was one of those vegetables that I grew up eating boiled, in rotation with other common vegetables of the era.  Then I went through phases where I thought the darker a vegetable, the better for you and just bypassed cauliflower’s pale hue.  Now cauliflower seems to be everywhere and we can’t get enough.  And we know it is a nutritional powerhouse. Cauliflower roasted at high temperature to bring out its flavor and char its edges becomes a revelation.  Yum!

When I came across Jessica Merchant’s  recipe for cauliflower carbonara last week, I knew I’d be making it.  It did not disappoint.   It is basically a classic carbonara with tons of cauliflower.  The cauliflower is roasted in bacon fat, an outrageous but  divine pairing!  We added balsamic and hot pepper flakes to the original recipe, doubled the cauliflower, and reduced the amount of bacon.  This was a perfect winter comfort dish, worthy of company.  Roasting  the cauliflower and frying the bacon ahead of time  would help ease some of the last minute assembly the dish requires. Mama Mia this is good!



  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

12 slices of nitrate-free bacon, chopped

2 large heads of cauliflower, chopped in flowerlets, spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet

1/2 t cracked black pepper

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb box of bucatini pasta, cooked as directed in salted water

6 large eggs

3 c of freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping

1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley

2 T balsamic vinegar

hot pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425 F.

1-  In a large deep skillet cook  the bacon until crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Turn off the heat.  Take 4-6 tablesppons of the bacon fat and drizzle it over the cauliflower.  Sprinkle with black pepper.  Roast the cauliflower on the bottom rack for 20 minutes at 425F, tossing once. Drizzle with the balsamic.

2-   Start boiling the pasta. Whisk together the eggs and parmesan.  When the pasta is almost done cooking,  sauté the garlic in the reserved bacon fat, over low heat, for a minute.   Drain pasta, add to the pan and coat with the garlic and remaining bacon fat.

3-  Remove the skillet from the heat and toss the pasta with the egg mixture to coat well, mixing constantly for 3-4 minutes.  Toss in the cauliflower, bacon and a pinch of hot pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings.   Top with parsley and extra cheese and serve immediately!


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24 thoughts on “Charred Cauliflower Carbonara

    • Wishful justification for that bacon fat!!!! Oh my! But no cream, no butter at least! Frugal too, n’est-ce pas? And it’ll help you get throught that cold MN winter!!!

      Sent from my iPad


  1. I just hit the “like” button but I really “love” this recipe Johanne. I am quite hungry right now and would love to have this for dinner. A perfect combination of yummy ingredients that are all delicious. Great post!

  2. Oh goodness, I can’t wait to make this! I have made a similar dish with brussels sprouts and bacon and it was incredible~ I agree, cauliflower is the new trend, and I have only cooked it a handful of times, so I appreciate the inspiration and delicious looking recipe!

  3. Dear Johanne,

    This sounds so delicious. I’ll have to go purchase the ingredients and give it a try.


    Stay warm

    J Christel

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