Caramelised cauliflower pasta with caper ‘butter’

Caramelised cauliflower pasta with caper ‘butter’

caramelised cauliflower pasta close up

I’m continuing with my Italian-inspired theme today and made a bowl of caramelised cauliflower pasta for lunch. It’s easy to make and a pleasure to eat! It features a combination I remember well from my childhood – cauliflower garnished with crispy breadcrumbs (and melted butter – bad vegan!). Did your mum used to make cauliflower like this too? Even though I like the original combination, this cauliflower is a bit more exciting as instead being boiled to within an inch of its life, it is nicely charred on a griddle pan and seasoned with smoked salt to reinforce subtle BBQ flavours. It goes super well with a tangy and garlicky caper ‘butter’ seasoned with a bit of chilli for good measure. As soon as I made it, it got a big thumbs up from my taster-in-chief, Duncan, so I’m hoping you’ll like it too!

caramelised cauliflower pasta portion

caramelised cauliflower pasta top down

10 min
20 min
10 min
20 min
  • 200 g of pasta*, I used strozzapreti (gluten-free if needed)
  • ½ large cauliflower, divided into florets
  • 4 baby zucchini (optional), sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely diced
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more to grill vegetables
  • 3 tbsp capers, chopped finely + a few whole to decorate
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice + zest
  • smoked salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • mild-heat chilli flakes (I used Turkish pul biber)
  • 2 tsbp of toasted breadcrumbs from crusty white bread**, seasoned with salt
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted on a dry pan
  1. Heat up a griddle pan on the stove (you can also use a BBQ for this or an oven at 400° F / 200° C). Cut cauliflower florets into halves. Brush them with a bit of olive oil and season with smoked salt. Arrange cauliflower pieces cut side down on a hot pan and do not turn over until they caramelise nicely. Then pop them to the other side for a few minutes. They will end up with a bit of a crunch but won’t be raw. Do the same with your zucchini slices (if using). Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta al dente and drain.
  3. In a small bowl, combine chopped capers with 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  4. Warm up the remaining tablespoon (or two if you don’t mind a bit more oil) of olive oil on a medium size pan. Once warm, add finely diced garlic and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Make sure you stir it all the time as garlic burns easily, especially when chopped that finely. Turn off the heat and add caper ‘butter’ mixture to the sautéed garlic. Stir well.
  5. Add drained pasta to the pan and mix it around well to coat it in the caper ‘butter’. Add grilled vegetables and mix well.
  6. Serve with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, chilli flakes, breadcrumbs and fresh mint.

*As this dish isn’t one of those with a large amount of sauce, it is best to use the type of pasta which has fairly large and smooth surface area like: strozzapreti, farfelle, penne, rigatoni or pappardelle.

**I made my breadcrumbs by slicing 2 day old crusty bread into very thin slices and then toasting them on a hot griddle pan brushed with a bit of olive oil. I toasted them on both sides until nicely browned, cooled them and then crushed them in a pestle and mortar.

4 g
13 g
2 g
11 g
60 g
*per serving
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2 reviews, 8 comments
Fergus Moran:
Hi Anya,
Another great recipe, thanks!
I added lemon zest as we like our lemon and caper combo!!!
I guess you add the roasted vegetables when combining the pasta and the sauce as your recipe doesn't specify.
Keep up the great concoctions!
    Glad you enjoyed it, Fergus! Yes, that's exactly it - thanks for letting me know, I shall correct asap. x Ania
I just made this pasta for dinner tonight and it was delicious! So many flavors and textures, just perfect. I will 100% make this again! 6/5 stars lol
    Thank you so much for your kind words, Alyssa! I'm delighted to hear that it was such a hit with you and you plan to make it again and thanks for taking the time to review - much appreciated. x Ania
    PS: you may also like my new version of this recipe :)
This sounds delish. I'm a little confused about the caper "butter" . What are the ingredients used to make it and how is it made? Is it blended. I may have overlooked it.
    Thank you, I hope you'll enjoy it if you decide to give it a go! Traditionally 'caper butter' is simply butter melted in a pan with garlic, chopped capers and a dash of lemon - that's the concept I went for, but I used olive oil instead of butter to make it vegan. Hope that helps!
Maikki | Maikin mokomin:
Sounds good! Very summery dish indeed :)
    Thanks Maikki :)
Sarah | Well and Full:
This pasta looks delicious, Ania! I love all the flavors you have going on in here - capers, mint, smoked salt... they all sound amazing together!
    Thanks so much, Sarah! So nice to hear! x
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