Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Pasta with Walnuts

Created by Laura Wright
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Roasted garlic and cauliflower pasta with walnuts is an easy, comforting, vegan and easily made gluten-free main.

roasted garlic + roasted garlic + cauliflower pasta w/ walnuts (vegan + gluten-free) //
roasted garlic + cauliflower pasta w/ walnuts (vegan + gluten-free) // via @thefirstmess
The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by ATK // @thefirstmess
for roasted garlic // via @thefirstmess

We eat a lot more pasta at this house than you might guess from just looking at this blog. Like at least once a week. And yet, this post is one of only two devoted to that starchy comfort that easily loans itself to pantry-cooking. I usually stock some type of spelt/whole grain noodle or brown rice penne in my little grain/cereal drawer. One of those two options with red sauce is both my man’s and my own comfort food of choice. If we’re having pasta for a nicer mid-week dinner though, I’ll be doing a light olive oil-based sauce with cooked vegetables, chickpeas, pine nut parm, greens etc., just to make it more special.

People seem to jump to pasta often for vegetarian mains because of its simplicity, heft, and diversity. I had a vegan friend who eventually developed a distaste for it because, at the time, pasta was one of the few options she could partake in when dining out. I think establishments have expanded their horizons a bit since.

A little while ago, I received a copy of a new book from America’s Test Kitchen: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. The anticipation over a plant-based collection from ATK was evident when I excitedly ripped the packing envelope one snowy afternoon. As I flipped through chapters focusing on hearty mains, soups, pasta + noodles, rice, grains, sides, salads, beans + soy, snacks, flatbreads, and more, I noticed a lot of the recipes that were jumping out at me were mostly comprised of items I already had in my pantry. I love when vegetarian recipes focus on building flavour with accessible, everyday ingredients, and this book really seems to understand that.

So onto today’s recipe… I chose this one because I had a giant head of cauliflower in the fridge and a pasta with that and roasted garlic sounded too cozy to pass on. We’re in a proper cold snap and it called to me from the page. I made a few minor changes (omitted the parmesan, subbed arugula for parsley), but kept the lightly sweet and full-flavoured roasted garlic and lemon sauce completely intact. I honestly can’t wait to make it again. You just mash some roasted garlic cloves with olive oil, lemon and chili flakes, thin the mixture out with starchy pasta water, and toss it with hot pasta and roasted cauliflower.

trimmin' // via @thefirstmess
roasted cauliflower //
roasted garlic + cauliflower pasta w/ walnuts (vegan + gluten-free) //

Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Pasta with Walnuts

Roasted garlic and cauliflower pasta with walnuts is an easy, comforting, vegan and easily made gluten-free main.
No ratings yet
roasted garlic + cauliflower pasta with walnuts (vegan + gluten-free)
Servings 4


  • 2 heads garlic, top quarter cut off to expose cloves
  • 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ pinchteaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 head cauliflower (2 lbs)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 lb short brown rice pasta, such as penne or fusilli
  • 2-3 handfuls baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped


  • From America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
  • ATK lists an alternative version of this pasta with broccoli and almonds as well if that catches your interest. The original recipe calls for chopped parsley, but I used handfuls of baby arugula because I happened to have it in my fridge.


  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a naked baking sheet on the rack and preheat to 500°F. Tear two squares of aluminum foil and place cut garlic heads in the centers. Drizzle exposed garlic tops with 1/2 tsp olive oil each. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves (if using). Wrap garlic bulbs up securely and place in the oven. Roast until garlic is browned and mushy/tender, about 40 minutes.
  • While garlic is roasting, trim the cauliflower leaves and the extra bit of stalk at the bottom. Cut the head right down the middle, from top to bottom. From there, cut each half into 4 wedges. In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower wedges with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Remove the pre-heated baking sheet from the oven and carefully lay the cauliflower wedges onto the surface, leaving some space around each piece. You should hear sizzling. Roast cauliflower until tender and well-browned, about 25 minutes (I flipped mine halfway).
  • Once slightly cooled, transfer cauliflower to a cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces. Unwrap roasted garlic and squeeze cloves out into a small bowl. Mash roasted garlic with a fork to make a smooth puree. Whisk in the lemon juice, pepper flakes, some salt + pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Set aside.
  • Cook brown rice pasta according to package directions with a fat pinch of salt in the water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining. Once drained, return cooked pasta to the pot. Add chopped cauliflower, garlic sauce, arugula, extra lemon juice to taste, and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water. Add more cooking water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Serve pasta with handfuls of chopped walnuts on top and extra chili flakes.
roasted garlic + cauliflower pasta w/ walnuts (vegan + gluten-free) //

18/02/2015 (Last Updated 09/02/2023)
Posted in: autumn, earthy, gluten free, main course, pasta, quick, refined sugar-free, roasted, sour, spicy, vegan, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Roe

    6 years later, this recipe is a dream. SO delicious and the roasted garlic sauce you got us to create for tossing the pasta and cauliflower in was unmatched. This is going on both our lunch and dinner staple list, thank you so much!

  • Rebecca

    I grew some mesclun mix in a cold box I improvised from a an old glass door and then searched for recipes. This is fabulous! The only thing I didn’t like is the single-use aluminum foil. A reusable garlic roaster would be a good solution, I imagine.

  • Jim

    Please clue me in – how can anyone read your material with all of the ads that are pasted on top of everything? I can see maybe two lines at a time. Why do you bother?

  • Marie

    OhMYgosh! Made this for dinner last night and my husband went nuts! I loved it, as well. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we licked our plates. Thanks for posting it. I’ve printed out the pdf and it is in my recipe binder to include in the regular rotation. Love your site. Looking forward to your cookbook coming out. Cheers!

  • Dahn

    This looks amazing, I am going to have to try this, I have some pasta waiting for an idea and I just found it.

  • Phanie

    Crap I missed out on this! Anyway, just made this last Friday and it was so damn delicious! Can’t wait to give it a go with the broccoli and almonds this week and adding both to my Meal Planning.

    Thank you for being alive. I love your recipes so much!


  • Kate

    Oh my gosh, I love this recipe!! I’m excited to see the new ATK book, their recipes are always top notch! Thanks for sharing.

  • STL restaurants

    Really nice article. Your food photography is some of the best I’ve ever seen!

  • Izzy @ She likes food

    I am going to go order that cookbook right away! I was just thinking today that I needed to bulk up my cookbook collection! We eat a lot of pasta in our house too and I get so tired of plain old tomato sauce so I love all the goodness you added to this pasta! I also love that pine nut parm! I have a feeling I will be making that a lot!

  • Milena Andreuzo

    Just made this for lunch and it was amazing! I used spinach instead of arugula because that’s what I had at home and it was awesome. Definitely keeping the recipe and doing it again in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa Kellenberger

    Yum! This pasta looks amazing. It really is hard to pick five. Right now my staples are:

    1. Brown Rice
    2. Avocado
    3. Eggs
    4. Brussel Sprouts
    5. Olive Oil

    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • Missy LeDuc

    Just a comment from someone with an untrained eye – I found your old website with your food shots to be amazingly tantalizing and couldn’t resist! I wanted to try every recipe and had to look through your old posts to get more gorgeous food shots. Unfortunately I don’t get the same urge with your new look and lighting. The food looks dark and hard to see at times. I have seen other blogs with the same lighting and it leaves me feeling the same way.
    It very well could be just me but I wanted to share that with you.
    Keep up the fantastic work! Love it!!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    The flavors and textures in here are perfection! What a wonderful weeknight meal!

  • charlotte

    gorgeous photos, as always. can’t wait to try this recipe. my five ingredients are tofu, spinach, brown rice, sweet potatoes and chickpeas (for homemade hummus, sandwiches or in dishes like this!)

  • cathy

    always have:

    1) my new favorite, einkorn
    2) garlic
    3) cannelini beans
    4) chick peas
    5) tahini

  • Nicole

    I always keep quinoa, black beans, coconut oil, roasted nuts, and lentils around for vegetarian meals.

  • Mickie

    I always have frozen veggie burgers, yogurt, eggs, peppers, and mushrooms, not exciting, but works when I’m in a rush.

  • Lotta-VeggieTown

    I am not a big pasta fan but this recipe really got me going! Think it will be pasta for dinner tomorrow!

  • Kailey Fukushima

    Looks delicious!
    My top 5 are: san marzano tomatoes, chickpeas, tahini, quinoa and red pepper flakes :)

  • Rebecca

    I love reading through all the comments–instant meal inspiration!

    garbanzo beans
    brown rice

  • Casey

    My top five have to be jasmine rice, eggs, cruciferous vegetables, coffee, and carrots. I buy the 6 pound bag of carrots from my local Costco and eat them constantly!

  • Ty Hodges

    My five: Quinoa, Brown Rice with Flax Seed, White Rice (bad I know but I like),Canned tomatoes with chiles, pasta. Plus loads of fresh veg in the fridge. Love salads all week! Would love to try some new recipes!

  • Natalie


    brown rice


    sweet potatoes


  • Susi Brust

    Thank you for your inspiring recipes! My pantry staples would be gluten-free oats, almond milk, tahini, chickpeas and spinach.

  • Jessica

    -olive oil

    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  • Michelle

    Organic beans and legumes(including but not limited to: pinto, black beans, navy, chickpeas and lentils.)
    Canned tomatoes
    Olive Oil
    Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (my “go to” vinegar for making potato salads, slaw, and quick pickled red onions and cucumbers, and garlicky dressings to pour over Texas Caviar and corn salsas.

  • Michelle

    black beans, sweet potatoes, wheat tortilla, avocado, cilantro

  • Sarah

    Looks like a chill book!

    I ALWAYS keep: fresh ginger, toasted sesame oil, spinach, brown rice, and black pepper on hand for fast, easy options!

  • Margery

    My pantry is desperately lonely without extra virgin olive oil, garlic, dried heirloom beans, ginger tea and sea salt.

  • Lucinda

    Thanks for the review! I’m now excited about this book. My five:
    canned and dry beans
    dried pasta
    canned tomato sauce

  • Heather poirier

    Dish sounds amazing! My five ingredients are quinoa, olive oil, almonds, black forbidden rice and coconut milk.

  • Lee Ann

    Five is hard!! But: organic whole tomatoes, Japanese soy sauce, garlic, beans (black or garbanzo), and EVO. If the fridge is the same as the pantry (but that would have complicated things!), I’d have been compelled to include tempeh.

  • Jane

    Ok, lets go with delicious olive oil, homemade nut/seeds and their butters, coconut oil/butter (to mix with raw cacao powder), all the beans and grains, and do garlic, onions and sweet potatoes count since I keep them in the pantry? OK and so much more :)

  • Kim

    Dried beans, rice, olive oil, tomatoes, pasta

  • Malissa W

    We always have black beans (I have an obsession with mexican meals), lentils, chickpeas, diced tomatoes and couscous. Love your blog!

  • Becca

    Pantry meals are exactly what I want to eat in the doldrums of winter! My top five go-to ingredients: French lentils, tahini, za’atar, quinoa, and coconut oil. Thanks for featuring such a great giveaway, I love love love Cooks Illustrated- having an ATK cookbook would only make my life better.

  • Karen

    canned tomatoes, canned beans, dried spices & herbs, frozen veggies and mushrooms, pasta, rice, grains

  • Corrine

    I like to have on hand a variety of beans, grains, canned tomatoes, canned sliced mushrooms and tea.

  • Lydia Claire

    Black beans, rice, diced tomatoes, olives, farro!

  • Tova

    Mmmm…I am all about the pantry meal! In my pantry I always have quinoa, veg broth, garlic, olive oil and coconut milk. These are my staples (along with many herbs and spices) that help me create delicious dishes (lots of bowls) with whatever fresh veg I find.

  • Rachel

    Our pantry currently consists of a tiny cupboard in our camper van, but in it you can find:
    -garbanzo beans
    -olive oil
    -black beans
    -one grain at a time (space saving!) Currently a quinoa/wild rice mix

    Gorgeous photos, as always!

  • Lauren E

    I always have:
    – Indian black chickpeas (so much more flavor than the regular ones!)
    – Onions
    – Garlic
    – Red pepper flakes
    – Olive oil

    I’ve made many a dinner out of those ingredients with just a few additions (or none at all!).

  • Robin Mooney

    I would say the most frequently refilled in my cabinets are

    Short grain brown rice
    sesame seeds
    dried beans

  • Julia Gartland

    I LOVE that you love ATK! I think they are soo underrated and I’m obsessed with the podcast – do you listen?

    BTW “Quietly badass” is the perfect way to describe them – loves it. I got to check out this cookbook.


  • Alison

    I always have millet, frozen broccoli, shallots, ginger, and light evoo. Canned tomatoes I try to keep during the winter- but during the summer they are too dang good fresh!

  • Tessa | Natural Comfort Kitchen

    They aren’t really intentional, but mine are dried beans, French green lentils, olive oil from THE BEST olive oil shop near me, some vinegars for when I don’t have lemons or limes, and pine nuts or walnuts. And I’ll have to second you on the wine thing–makes everything special, and bonus, it can also go into the food!