Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Breadcrumbs

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Breadcrumbs


  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces, thicker stems removed

  • 3/4 lb dried orecchiette or cavatelli pasta

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

  • 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped

  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped

  • Freshly grated Parmesan


  1. Bring a large pot of salty water to boil for the pasta. In the meantime, prepare the cauliflower and grate bread for crumbs, if necessary.

  2. In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 and a half tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, then add the bread crumbs. Toast, stirring often, until golden and slightly crisp. Remove to a small bowl and wipe the skillet clean.

  3. Cook the bacon in the same skillet over medium-high heat a few minutes until the fat renders, then add the cauliflower pieces, garlic, and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring only very occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the cauliflower is caramelized and golden.

  4. In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente, reserving a cup of pasta water. Drain and add pasta to the skillet, tossing to combine. Add olive oil and pasta water as needed to achieve a rich, slightly creamy consistency.

  5. Serve with a shower of breadcrumbs, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

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