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Quick Single-Serve Cauliflower Pasta

Dive into the world of easy, flavorful cooking with our single-serve cauliflower pasta – a perfect solution for busy young professionals. In just 15 minutes, you’ll have a delicious meal that outshines other recipes with its simplicity, and quick preparation. It’s the ideal choice for a nutritious, no-fuss lunch or dinner.

Kithen towels near a vintage green plate with cauliflower pasta.

This cauliflower pasta recipe is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, specially designed for solo dining. With just 2 minutes of prep time and 13 minutes of cooking, this recipe fits seamlessly into your busy schedule.

Imagine a simple yet scrumptious meal, packed with the bright and briny flavors of roasted cauliflower. The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity and the use of common ingredients that come together to create something extraordinary.

One of the secret stars of this dish is the pasta cooking water. Often discarded, this liquid gold is used here to create a light, binding sauce that marries all the flavors beautifully. It’s a small trick with a big impact, enhancing the overall texture and taste of the pasta.

Whether you’re winding down from a long day at work or just need a quick yet fulfilling meal, the cauliflower pasta recipe for one is an ideal choice. It’s not just a dish; it’s a celebration of convenience, flavor, and the joy of cooking, even amidst a hectic lifestyle.

Let’s dive into the world of easy, flavorful cooking with this delightful recipe.

Quick Note:

To make the most of your cauliflower, try whipping up a cauliflower soup with Gorgonzola for one either on the same day or the next. This approach helps you use up the entire vegetable, minimizing waste and maximizing flavor.

🌟 Recipe Tips

  • Cut the cauliflower into small, even pieces. This helps them cook uniformly and blend seamlessly with the pasta.
  • Garlic and Chili Pepper: Finely chop these to release their flavors more effectively. If you’re sensitive to spice, adjust the amount of chili pepper to suit your taste.
  • Sautéing Garlic and Chili: Cook these on low heat to infuse the oil with flavor without burning them. This creates a rich base for your dish.
  • Ensure the pasta water is salted and at a rolling boil before adding the pasta. Cook it al dente for the best texture.
  • Serve hot, garnished with extra Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh herbs if available. This adds a pop of color and freshness.

🥘 Ingredients & Substitutes

Penne pasta near olive oil, parmesan, garlic an chili flake on a wooden board.
  • Pasta forms the base of your dish, offering a satisfying texture and a perfect canvas for flavors. If you’re out of regular pasta or looking for a gluten-free option, try rice noodles or legume-based pasta like lentil or chickpea pasta. They offer similar textures but bring their unique twist to the dish.
  • Cauliflower adds a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and a delightful crunch. Broccoli can be a great alternative, offering a similar texture and a slightly different, yet equally delicious, flavor profile.
  • Garlic infuses the dish with its unmistakable aroma and a hint of spiciness. If you’re out of fresh garlic, garlic powder can work in a pinch. It’s more concentrated, so use it sparingly. Shallots or a small amount of finely chopped onion can also provide a similar flavor depth.
  • Chili pepper brings a subtle heat that lights up the dish. For a milder heat, red pepper flakes are an easy substitute. If you prefer a sweeter note with less spice, try a pinch of sweet paprika.
  • Parmesan cheese adds a salty, umami richness that rounds out the flavors. If Parmesan is not available, try Pecorino Romano for a similar salty bite, or a mild Asiago for a softer flavor. For a dairy-free option, nutritional yeast flakes can mimic the cheesy taste.

👩‍🍳 Directions

To begin, we need to bring water to a boil, which we’ll use for both boiling the cauliflower and cooking the pasta.

When the water starts boiling, add a teaspoon of salt to it, and then add the cauliflower. Boil the cauliflower for 3-4 minutes, so it remains al dente.

Cauliflower florets boiling in a pan on the stove.

Then, using a strainer, remove the cauliflower from the water and set it aside for a few minutes.

White plate with boiled cauliflower florets on a white marble table.

In the remaining water from the cauliflower, put the pasta to cook. While the pasta is cooking, let’s continue with the cauliflower.

Boiling water with pasta in a pan on the stove.

Take a skillet and add 1 teaspoon of oil to it. Slice the garlic and finely chop the chili pepper. You can use fresh chili pepper or omit it altogether if you don’t enjoy spicy food. Cook for about a minute over medium heat until it starts to smell pleasantly of garlic.

Frying garlic and chili flakes in a frying pan on the stove.

Next, add the cauliflower to the skillet and cook it for a few minutes in the garlic and chili-infused oil.

Frying pan with garlic, and cauliflower florets.

When the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain it and add it to the cauliflower in the skillet.

Quick Note:

Save some pasta water; you’ll need it to create the pasta sauce.

Frying pan with boiled pasta and boiled cauliflower florets on the stove.

After adding the pasta, pour in 2-3 tablespoons of pasta water

Woman hand pouring water over boiled pasta and cauliflower florets.

Then, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil.

Woman hand pouring water over boiled pasta and cauliflower florets.

Then, mix the contents of the skillet thoroughly to coat the pasta with the sauce formed from the pasta water and oil.

Serve the pasta in a plate and generously sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve while it’s hot.

Vintage green plate with cauliflower pasta with chili flakes and parmesan.

🍴 How to Double the Recipe:

You can easily double the ingredients to serve two. Just ensure your pan is big enough to accommodate the extra volume. Cooking times may slightly increase, so adjust accordingly.

🍽️ Servings

Rustic Italian Dinner

  • Components: Enhance your cauliflower pasta with a side of grilled chicken breast and a mixed green salad. The chicken adds protein, while the salad brings a fresh, crisp contrast.
  • Presentation: Serve the pasta as the main attraction in the center of the plate. Slice the grilled chicken and place it neatly beside the pasta. On the side, arrange the mixed greens, dressed lightly with vinaigrette. Garnish the pasta with a fresh basil leaf for an authentic Italian touch.
  • Occasion: Perfect for a sophisticated yet easy weekday dinner, especially when you want something a bit special without too much fuss.

Cozy Movie Night

  • Components: Pair the cauliflower pasta with garlic bread and a glass of your favorite red wine. The garlic bread complements the flavors in the pasta, while the wine adds an indulgent touch.
  • Presentation: Serve the pasta in a deep bowl for easy eating. Place a couple of slices of garlic bread on the side of the bowl. Pour the wine into a large glass to enhance the aroma and flavor.
  • Occasion: Ideal for a relaxed evening in, watching movies or catching up on your favorite TV series. This setup is all about comfort and indulgence.

Light Lunch Option

  • Components: Accompany your pasta with steamed asparagus and a lemon wedge. The asparagus adds a nutritious, vibrant side, and the lemon brings a fresh, zesty flavor to the dish.
  • Presentation: Arrange the steamed asparagus neatly next to the pasta. Place the lemon wedge on the rim of the plate for a bright, inviting look. Optionally, sprinkle some toasted pine nuts over the pasta for an extra crunch.
  • Occasion: Suitable for a quick yet satisfying lunch, especially when you’re looking for something light yet flavorful. This combination is great for a midday meal that won’t leave you feeling sluggish.

🍽️ Variations

Vegetarian Twist

  • Variation: Swap the Parmesan cheese for a vegan alternative or nutritional yeast to make the dish vegetarian-friendly. You can also add a variety of roasted vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes for extra flavor and nutrition.
  • Why Try It: This variation is perfect for those following a vegetarian diet or looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into their routine. The added vegetables enrich the dish with different textures and flavors.

Spicy Seafood Delight

  • Variation: Introduce cooked shrimp or scallops to the pasta. Enhance the heat by adding extra chili pepper or a dash of cayenne pepper.
  • Why Try It: Seafood lovers will appreciate this version. The shrimp or scallops add a luxurious touch, making the dish suitable for a special occasion or when you crave something a bit more gourmet.

Creamy Comfort

  • Variation: Stir in a splash of cream or coconut milk towards the end of cooking for a creamier texture. Add some spinach or arugula for a touch of green and a slight peppery taste.
  • Why Try It: This creamy version is for those times when you’re in the mood for something comforting and indulgent. The greens add a nutritional boost and a pop of color.

Hearty Meat Addition

  • Variation: Include diced cooked chicken, bacon, or Italian sausage for a protein-rich meal. You might also want to add some sautéed mushrooms for an earthy flavor.
  • Why Try It: This is a great way to use up leftover chicken or other meats. It transforms the pasta into a heartier meal, ideal for a post-workout dinner or a more substantial lunch.

❄️ Storage


  • Duration: This pasta dish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store it in an airtight container to maintain freshness and prevent it from absorbing other odors and flavors from the fridge.
  • Considerations: Be aware that the pasta may absorb some of the sauce over time, which could slightly alter the texture. The dish is best enjoyed fresh, but it will still be tasty when reheated.


  • Duration: Freezing is not highly recommended for this dish. If necessary, it can be frozen for up to a month. However, the texture of the pasta and cauliflower may change upon thawing and reheating.
  • Difficulties: Freezing may cause the pasta to become mushy and the cauliflower to lose its crispness. The dish could also become watery once thawed.

Thawing and Reheating

  • Thawing: If you have frozen the dish, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature as this can lead to bacterial growth.
  • Reheating: Reheat the pasta in a skillet over medium heat, adding a little bit of water or broth to help rehydrate the sauce and prevent the pasta from drying out. You can also reheat it in the microwave, covered, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

🤔 FAQs

How Can I Use Leftover Cauliflower?

Leftover cauliflower is incredibly versatile. You can roast it with some olive oil and spices for a simple side dish, blend it into a soup, or even use it to make a cauliflower pizza crust. Since it’s a hearty vegetable, it stores well in the fridge for a few days, making it easy to incorporate into other meals.

What If I Have Extra Pasta?

If you find yourself with extra pasta, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Use it as a base for another quick meal, like a pasta salad or a simple aglio e olio. You can also freeze cooked pasta in a well-sealed container for up to 2 months but take into consideration that the texture will change. The pasta will become more “mushy”.

How Can I Add More Protein to This Dish?

To increase the protein content, consider adding grilled chicken, shrimp, or even chickpeas. These options blend well with the existing flavors and make the dish more filling, ideal for post-workout meals or if you’re looking for a more substantial dinner.

Can I Use Frozen Cauliflower Instead of Fresh?

Frozen cauliflower is a great alternative to fresh. There’s no need to thaw it before cooking; just add a few extra minutes to the cooking time. Keep in mind that frozen cauliflower might not be as crisp as fresh, but it will still be delicious.

📔 Recipe Card:

Kithen towels near a vintage green plate with cauliflower pasta.

Quick Single-Serve Cauliflower Pasta

Quick Single-Serve Cauliflower Pasta: A perfect blend of al dente cauliflower, garlic-infused oil, and Parmesan. Ready in 15 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 13 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1
Calories 534 kcal


  • 3 oz Pasta Penne rigate
  • 5 oz Cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • Chili pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Bring water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water. Boil cauliflower in salted water for 3-4 minutes until al dente.
    1 teaspoon salt, 5 oz Cauliflower
  • Using a strainer, remove the cauliflower and set aside.
  • In the same water, cook pasta.
    3 oz Pasta
  • In a separate frying pan, heat 1 teaspoon of oil.
    1 teaspoon Olive Oil, 1 clove Garlic, Chili pepper
  • Slice the garlic and chop the chili pepper, then cook for about a minute.
  • Add the cauliflower to the skillet and cook in the garlic and chili oil. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the skillet with the cauliflower. Save some pasta water for the sauce.
  • Pour 2-3 tablespoons of pasta water into the skillet. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Mix everything in the skillet to coat the pasta with the sauce.
    1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Serve the pasta on a plate and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
    1 tablespoon Parmesan


  • Cheese Variations: While Parmesan is the classic choice, feel free to experiment with other hard cheeses like Grana Padano or Asiago for a different flavor profile.
  • Herb Options: Fresh herbs can elevate this dish. Consider adding basil, parsley, or thyme for an aromatic touch. If using dried herbs, remember they’re more potent than fresh, so use them sparingly.
  • Spice Adjustments: If you prefer a less spicy dish, remove the seeds from the chili pepper before chopping it. This reduces the heat while still providing flavor.
  • Al Dente Pasta: For the best texture, cook the pasta until it’s al dente (still firm to the bite). It will continue to cook slightly when mixed with the hot cauliflower and sauce.
  • Garnish Suggestions: A squeeze of lemon juice before serving can add a fresh, zesty kick. Also, consider topping the dish with toasted breadcrumbs for added crunch.
  • Sauce Consistency: If you find the pasta too dry after mixing, add a splash of pasta water to help loosen the sauce and coat the pasta evenly.
  • Portion Control: This recipe is designed for a single serving, making it ideal for a quick and easy meal without leftovers. If you’re cooking for more people, simply multiply the ingredients accordingly.


Calories: 534kcalCarbohydrates: 72gProtein: 16gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 2454mgPotassium: 631mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 39IUVitamin C: 69mgCalcium: 115mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Cauliflower, Pasta
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