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

  • MelissaT

    smoked paprika

  • Philippe B-C

    1. vegetable stock
    2. good olive oil
    3. almond milk
    4. fresh greens
    5. peanut butter


  • Holly

    1. Quinoa 2. Scallions 3. Tofu 4. Avocado 5. Mushrooms

  • Lynn

    Five must haves:

    Balsamic vinegar
    Sun dried tomatoes
    Fresh herbs

  • Emily

    Looks like a great book! My 5 are sweet potatoes, coconut milk, black beans, tofu and rice.

  • Diane

    Oooh fun! I adore ATK!
    My five pantry staples: black beans, quinoa, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, and a bevy of spices.

  • Tricia

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful and healthy meals. Your blog makes me want to cook even when I am tired after work. My pantry staples are olive oil, maple syrup, chickpeas, rice noodles and canned diced tomatoes.

  • Eliza

    I love ATK, and that cookbook sounds great!

    1. Fresh salad greens (kale, mesclun, etc.)
    2. Good balsamic vinegar
    3. Lemons
    4. Grain (wild rice, quinoa, etc.)
    5. Tahini

  • Christine H

    This recipe looks lovely and right up my alley! My 5 ingredients are much like yours: olive oil, garlic, lemons, lentils, and dried beans like chickpeas and navy beans!

  • Meghan

    Just bought some cauliflower to make this on Sunday!

    My vegetarian pantry must-haves: 1) Lentils. Especially red lentils. 2) Nuts and nut butters. 3) Chickpeas, 4) Garlic, 5) Canned Tomatoes.

  • Megan

    I always have extra-virgin olive oil, vegetable broth, garbanzo beans, garlic, and onion. Combined with any grain or pasta + green or root vegetable and you have a delicious meal! with a toasted nut topping of any kind if one is on-hand, and it’s a feast! (runner up on this list would be wine -for drinking or cooking!)

  • kristie {birch and wild}

    This book looks wonderful! As a vegetarian, I look forward to the release of a new vegetarian cookbook like a carnivore looks forward to bacon.

  • Leanne

    this looks great and i am maybe a 3 times a year pasta eater – will definitely give it a try. i always have avocados, cans of tomatos, lentils, nuts and greens. keep the amazing recipes coming – I’m always looking forward to what’s next! thank you!

  • thefolia

    Yummy! I always have olive oil, olives, cumin makes everything yummy, chickpeas and coconut milk. Happy feasting!

  • Ellen

    I always have chickpeas, brown rice, coconut milk, olive oil and good salt!

  • Rachel Brown

    For an easy vegetarian meal I try to have the following in my pantry: canned navy beans, whole wheat pasta, olive oil, crushed tomatoes and garlic. They combine for a beautiful, vegetarian pasta!

  • Ariane

    mmm hard to choose, I’d say canned beans, quinoa, squash/sweet potatoes, avocadoes and lime/lemon. Thank you for the giveaway!

  • Lena

    Can’t wait to make this!

    1. any kind of bean
    2. millet
    3. olive oil
    4. canned whole tomatoes
    5. homemade curry paste

  • Courtenay

    I go through phases with ingredients, so my staples tend to change. Right now I’m into: 1. Sprouted brown rice; 2. Sprouted lentils; 3. Nutritional yeast; 4. Toasted pumpkin seeds; 5. Any cruciferous veggie on hand. Add lemon/ACV, olive oil, herbs/shichimi togarashi to this mix and I’m set!

  • Julia

    -olive oil

    The rest always seems to rotate!

  • Maggie Wiggins

    Yum this looks delicious! I’m making this recipe tonight! My staples are cabbage, cashews, tamari, lemon, and rice noodles.

  • Claire T

    I am a bit of a grocery hoarder so it’s hard to limit it to 5… here goes:
    -brown rice
    -various canned beans

    I am thinking cooking oil doesn’t count, and I always have some fresh vegetables on hand, but they don’t go in the pantry : )

  • marie

    I Would love to see this cookbook in my collection :)
    My 5 essential ingredients are : extra-virgin olive oil, brown pasta, quinoa, almonds and canned tomatoes for stew and pasta dishes)…
    but I am not sure that i will survive without my red lentils, my coconut oil and milk, my oats, my sesame seeds, my dates and my dried cranberries :)

  • AL

    this recipe looks great, can’t wait to try it! some items I always have in my pantry are:
    borlotti beans, almonds, chia seeds, oats, and some of my mums homegrown canned tomatoes!

  • Paige

    Five seems like a crazy reduction,so I’m taking the liberty of using some categories: grains,beans/legumes, onions/garlic, good olive oil, herbs, and greens.

  • Kendra

    Its hard to pick just five but here goes- raw almonds, whole wheat panko, lemons, good olive oil, and a good balsamic.

  • Gabriela

    Wow I am so excited that ATK is coming out with a vegetarian cookbook! I love their magazine, tv show, and over the years I’ve come to collect their annual best recipes cookbook. My pantry staples are: black beans, farro, dijon mustard, coconut oil, and cumin!

  • Sara

    Let’s see, it seems I always have: almond milk, already cooked lentils, some type of green (spinach, kale, or chard), diced tomatoes, and good olive oil. Easy dinners are my favorite!

  • Jacqui

    Always in my pantry are dried beans (usually black and/or chickpeas), brown basmati rice, good olive oil, good vinegar and/or lemons), seasonal produce. Seems I can always come up with even the most basic of meals if I have at least these few things on hand! Nuts/seeds are always in there too ;)

  • Megan

    This recipe looks awesome! I always keep avocados, an assortment of dried beans/legumes, tofu, an assortment of rice noodles and SRIRACHA! It’s my go-to! Now, let’s get cooking with this new book!


    I always have raw cashews, quinoa pasta, some mustard powder, really good quality olive oil and red pepper flakes stocked in my pantry. I can always put together really great(easy) dishes using most of those ingredients.

    One of my favorite things to make is vegan mac and cheese using the raw cashews of course for the “cheese” sauce along with the quinoa pasta. Ancient Harvest is my go to brand.

  • Rachel

    I can’t wait to make this. The pantry staples that I always have are canned tomatoes, canned beans, pasta, olive oil, and vegetable broth. When in a pinch I can always make a quick soup!

  • Jodi

    My husband would probably consider pasta to be in a food group all its own. I’m more of a load it with veg, salad + a killer sauce kinda lady. We make it work. BUT THIS, this would definitely work. Jaw dropping photos, that garlic – guh, c’mon. Good thing the giveaway isn’t open for me here in France – could never pick just 5 (but always tahini). xx

  • Lorely

    Wow! Number 205…good luck everyone!

    Some things i keep in my pantry for when my vegetarian friends come by for a meal are sun dried tomatoes, rice wraps, black beans and many other dried beans like mung beans and chick peas, soba noodles, plus there’s always miso paste in my fridge. Not sure if that counts…haha.

    Lovin’ your photos, but wondering if they’re ‘large size’ rather than ‘medium size’. They seem to take awhile to load, but my computer is old so maybe that’s why…

    And your recipes are great too! WOW.

  • Leah M @ love me, feed me

    Swooning over these photos!! Some of my staples are bragg’s, chickpeas, sweet potato, at least like 5 nut butters, and oats!

  • Annie

    I always try to have on hand canned beans, roasted tomatoes, tortillas, pasta/noodles, and red lentils. I can usually scrape together some kind of dinner out of these!

  • MBridges

    Whole wheat pasta, rice, San Marzano tomatoes, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar

  • Stephanie

    This recipe looks delicious! I always keep olive oil, brown rice, black beans, canned tomatoes, and garlic in my pantry. They are a perfect complement to anything left in my fridge!

  • Kristina N.

    Gah, I am so excited about this book! My pantry staples are quinoa or whole wheat couscous, diced tomatoes, garbanzo or black beans, some kind of nut, and lots of different vinegar!

  • michelle

    That looks delish but pasta is pretty much banned at my house. There just isn’t enough nutrition in there for me to include it in my calories for the day. My staples…Fire roasted tomatoes, red lentils, tri-color quinoa, almonds and coconut aminos.

  • Margot C

    Best quality Olive Oil, Black Eyed Peas, Onions, Garlic and a supply of frozen grape tomatoes which seem to enhance just about everything and are curiously more flavorful when cooked in (say) a pot of black eyed peas from their frozen state.

  • Sherry

    Hi, Laura! I’m SO glad to get your take on this cookbook. I subscribe to CI online and love them for their equipment reviews (my gradual replace-and-upgrade agenda is totally informed by those). But I admit I was curious as to whether you would think this book made the grade … they tend to be so meat-focused in their recipes, the newsletters coming into my inbox attests to this, and sometimes ATK and/or CI videos of veg recipes are dubious in their tone (how can we *possibly* make a non-meat recipe taste good?? — this is not least because of Christopher Kimball himself, I think — whereas Jack Bishop, longtime test kitchen guy, has released a couple of his own cookbooks that I admire, one I use very often). Anyway, all this is to say that if you think this book is a good one, I am *delighted* and would love to have a chance to sit down with it!
    Not least under your inspiration my dry pantry always-always-always has a round of whole grains (quinoa/farro/barley/millet/buckwheat etc. + multiple rices, brown/red/black), dried legumes (3 or 4 kinds of lentils, chick peas, black and white beans), and then of course oils (olive, coconut at least), vinegars (white & red wine, sherry, balsamic, cider …), jarred tomato passata and dried chilies (flavour punch!). Add the fresh staples like garlic, herbs, citrus, miso, lots of nuts and seeds and their butters/pastes, and our crispers full of veg and fruit are ever-ready to jump into full-on deliciousness!
    Thanks so much for your amazingly generous site, girl — keep the creativity coming.

  • Julie

    This looks amazing! My five ingredients are:

    Vegetable stock
    broccoli or other green vegetable
    legumes – black beans, lentils, etc.

  • Darla

    My 5 essentials are garlic, coconut oil, lentils, greens and rice. I would love to have this book!

  • Julie

    That looks so good! I always have:
    – some sort of legume (chickpeas, black beans)
    – nuts (almonds, walnuts)
    – greens (kale, arugula)
    – garlic
    – olive oil

  • Tessa Dillon

    This recipe looks yummy!
    My 5 stapes:
    olive oil
    brown rice
    seeds (pumpkin seeds!)
    beans (black)

  • Jessica

    My go to pantry items are cannellini beans, panko, olive oil, brown rice and cumin.

  • sarah nikolovska

    Coconut oil
    maple syrup
    wild rice
    coconut milk

  • Aaron D.

    This recipe looks/sounds great!

    Chick peas
    Black beans
    Beluga lentils
    Artichoke hearts