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Tomato Cauliflower Pasta Sauce

Tomato Cauliflower Pasta Sauce is an easy, cheesy way to get cauliflower into your weeknight dinner routine. Combined with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese it makes a scrumptious pasta sauce. I often serve this as a first course or a side dish with Nonna’s Chicken Cutlets when I am looking for a meal that everyone agrees is delicious!

A white bowl of spaghetti topped with chunky cauliflower tomato sauce.

This is one of those recipes that you can enjoy year round. The ingredients are simple and always available. It’s also a quick and easy sauce to make so you won’t be tied to your stove all day.

The Ingredients

The Ingredients for this dish are simple but should be good quality.

Cauliflower pasta ingredients: cauliflower, olive oil, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, onion and pasta.
  • Cauliflower – You will need a whole large head of cauliflower for this recipe. Cut it into even sized pieces and don’t worry about how big or little they are. You will be cooking it and then mashing it down so it doesn’t matter.
  • Tomato Sauce – Use your favorite tomato sauce. If you have your own left over sauce that is great otherwise a jar of your favorite store bought sauce will be perfect.
  • Parmesan Cheese – This recipe works well with either parmesan or pecorino romano cheese. So feel free to use either one. I use whichever one I have in the house at the time. Just make sure that it is real Italian cheese and not the one in the green container on the shelf.
  • Olive Oil – just plan olive oil is what you want for this recipe. You don’t need to use extra virgin olive oil.
  • Pasta – Since this sauce is chunky and hearty, you will want to serve this over a pasta shape that can hold up to it. Spaghetti is my usual pick for this, but linguine or bucatini also work well. If you prefer a short pasta, try rigatoni or penne. Follow my pasta buying guide to select the best quality pasta for your dish.

How to make Tomato Cauliflower Pasta Sauce

This is truly an easy pasta sauce to make.

4 process shots of making cauliflower pasta: 1 sauté the onion, 2, add and mash cauliflower, 3 add sauce and cheese and 4 plate it.
  • Cook the cauliflower in a large pot of salted water until it is very tender. You should be able to easily puncture it with a fork.
  • (1) Sauté the onion in a large sauté pan with olive oil.
  • (2) When the cauliflower is done, transfer it to the sauté pan using a slotted spoon. Then use a fork to break it up.
  • Cook the pasta in the cauliflower water.
  • (3) Add the sauce, a ladle of pasta water and cheese to the cauliflower, then salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve the sauce over the cooked and drained pasta with additional cheese for those that want it.

What do you serve with cauliflower pasta?

This sauce is hearty enough to make pasta your main course. If that is what you want to do then a simple side salad is all you need to make this a complete meal. In our house, we usually serve this as a first course or a side dish and it pairs really well with so many things. In the summer it is wonderful with grilled steak, chicken or pork. It is even great as a side for burgers. In the winter, roast chicken, or pan fried pork shops are perfect with a side of Tomato Cauliflower Pasta.

A white bowl with spaghetti topped with Tomato Cauliflower sauce and grated cheese.

Add Ins

Looking to add in something to change things up a bit?

Brown some sausage with the onion and then add the rest of the ingredients. Talk about hearty!

Make it a vegetarian delight by adding some asparagus or mushrooms to the onion and cook until they are tender. Then continue with the recipe as written.

Grilled chicken can also be mixed in to the sauce before serving for another hearty entrée option.

Need a gluten free option? Serve the sauce over zucchini noodles.

Want to spice it up a bit? Add some crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce.


Can this be made dairy free?

As written this is not a dairy free recipe, but you can omit the cheese or use a dairy free cheese alternative to make it without dairy.

How do you store this sauce?

left over sauce or pasta with sauce stays fresh in the refrigerator for 4-5 days as long as it is in an airtight container.

How do you reheat left overs?

You can easily reheat the pasta or the sauce in the microwave. The amount of time will depend on the amount you need to reheat. I would start with a minute or so and then stir the pasta or sauce and continue to heat in the microwave until you get it to your desired temperature.
You can also reheat it on the stove top over a low heat. If you are reheating only the sauce, use a sauce pan and heat stirring occasionally until you reach the desired temperature. If you are reheating the pasta and sauce, use a frying pan set over low heat and cover the pan. Stir it occasionally until it is heated through. You may need to add a little water to the pan to loosen the sauce up while it is reheating.

Spaghetti with tomato cauliflower sauce and a bowl of grated cheese and a fork.

More pasta recipes that you might like to try:

Easy Chunky Tomato Sauce

Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage

Pasta Rustica with Sausage

Italian Pasta Broccoli

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

Bucatini alla Carbonara

Caprese Pasta with fresh Mozzarella

Short Rib Ragu with Mafaldine

Radiatori Pasta with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A white bowl with spaghetti topped with a cauliflower tomato sauce.

Tomato Cauliflower Pasta Sauce

An hearty pasta sauce that makes weeknight meals easy to prepare. Cauliflower, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese make a winning combination!
5 from 2 votes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 539 kcal


  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • 1 head Cauliflower cut into even sized pieces
  • ½ cup Onion diced
  • cups Tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup Pasta water
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese grated
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Cook the cauliflower in a large pot of well salted water until it is fork tender.
  • Sauté the onion in a large frying pan until it is tender. Lower the heat to low.
  • Using a slotted spoon transfer the cauliflower to the frying pan. Break the cauliflower up with the back side of a fork until you get small chunks.
  • Add the tomato sauce, pasta water and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for a minute or two and remove it from the heat.
  • Cook the pasta in the same pot that you cooked the cauliflower in following the package directions. Once it is done, drain it, reserving 1 cup of water. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss well. Add a little more pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Serve with additional grated cheese.


Serving: 4gCalories: 539kcalCarbohydrates: 100gProtein: 24gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 761mgPotassium: 1042mgFiber: 8gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 562IUVitamin C: 78mgCalcium: 224mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Cauliflower, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese,
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