This pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower and Anchovies is Italian simplicity at its best. It only takes 30 minutes total to make, and I can promise you I did not skimp on flavor. My family adored it and hopefully, yours will too!

Healthy Pasta Romanesco with Anchovies in a serving bowl

Why We Love This Recipe For Cauliflower Anchovy Pasta

One of the reasons you’ll love this recipe is that (as mentioned briefly above) it only takes about 15 minutes of prep time, and another 15 minutes if you count the time it takes to bring the pot of water to a boil. So that, in and of itself, is a giant plus in my opinion.

Second, it makes use of romanesco cauliflower, which is one of those cool looking vegetables that may throw one or two of us for a loop. Is it a fractle? Is it broccoli? Is it cauliflower? What do I do with it? The answers are–yes, sort of, sort of and make this pasta. Add to that, it’s also good for you (and majorly delicious when tossed with garlic and anchovies).

The third thing? It is so Italian. And who doesn’t love Italian everything really. If this recipe was a little more authentic, it would say to fry the garlic in a skillet, add the cooked pasta directly in, and toss to coat. All right all right, and there would be way more oil too, and it wouldn’t be olive oil from Costco, either. It would be uber grassy and delicious.

But in the name of not having to wash a big skillet, and for the mixed emotional love of Costco, I have you sizzle the garlic in a small skillet and then drizzle it over the cooked and drained pasta in the pasta pot. But trust me, you won’t be upset about any of the so-called shortcuts I’ve used.

cauliflower anchovy pasta in a plate

Key Ingredients For This Recipe

Romanesco cauliflower

This strange (and very delicious vegetable) is a hybrid between cauliflower and broccoli. With that being said, it tastes more like broccoli, and has the same mild and somewhat-nutty flavor notes. It tastes SO good with cheese and olive oil–just you wait and see.

High-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Olive oils, just like wine and cheese, come in a variety of flavors and aromas. It’s important to use high-quality olive oils when cooking Italian dishes especially since olive oil is such a prominent ingredient. Look for olive oil that looks green and bright in color, and tastes peppery, fresh, and earthy. You’ll know it’s low quality if it tastes rancid, is dull in color, and/or tastes greasy and flavorless.

Romano cheese

I added Pecorino Romano to this pasta romanesco, but if you can’t find that, look for Asiago, since it has a similar level of saltiness. Or you can always use whatever hard cheese you have and then adjust the seasoning when you toss it all together. I’m totally good with that.

Anchovy fillets

Anchovies aren’t for everyone, I totally get it, but here they totally elevate the dish with it’s saltiness and rich umami flavor. Anchovies are known for pairing well with other rich foods like pasta and cheese.

Additional Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat pasta, such as rigatoni, penne or fusilli (2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Step by Step Instructions to Make This Romanesco Cauliflower Pasta Recipe

Step 1: Cook pasta & romanesco

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, then stir well and set a timer according to the package cooking instructions. When the pasta has 4 minutes left, stir in the romanesco. Continue cooking until the pasta and romanesco are just tender. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and romanesco thoroughly. Return the pasta mixture to the pot.

Step 2: Cook garlic oil

Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a small skillet over medium heat. When the garlic just starts to brown, remove from the heat and stir in anchovies. Pour the anchovy mixture over the pasta and romanesco and stir to coat. Add ¼ cup Romano cheese and pepper and stir to coat. If the pasta is dry, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid, as needed. Divide the pasta among four plates and top with additional cheese, if desired.

Healthy Pasta Romanesco with Anchovies

FAQs and Expert Tips

Can any part of this dish be made ahead?

Make the garlic oil the night before or earlier in the day and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Once the pasta and romanesco are cooked, remove the garlic oil and add to the pot of pasta. Cook, stirring, over low heat until warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Can this dish be made gluten-free?

Absolutely. I chose whole wheat rigatoni just because it’s healthy and it’s one of my favorites, but if you’re gluten free, just substitute the pasta with whatever gluten free pasta you have on hand. Cook the pasta as directed on the box along with the romanesco and follow remaining recipe as written.

What can you use instead of anchovies?

If you prefer not to use anchovies, you can chop up some kalamata olives and capers and add to the garlic oil instead. They will contribute a similar salty flavor-addition.

How to store this dish:

Whether you have leftovers or are planning to make extra for the next day, store the pasta and romanesco in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last from 2 to 3 days in the fridge, but I reccomend eating it sooner rather than later.

Additional Italian Recipes to Try

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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Healthy Pasta Romanesco with Anchovies

Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower and Anchovies


Description

Healthy whole-wheat pasta, ready in just 30 minutes with romanesco cauliflower and anchovies.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces whole wheat pasta, such as rigatoni, penne or fusilli (2 cups)
  • 1 large head romanesco cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces (5 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 anchovy filets, minced
  • ¼ cup shredded Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, stir well and set timer according to package cooking instructions. When the pasta has 4 minutes left stir in Romanesco. Continue cooking until the pasta and Romanesco are just tender. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking liquid and drain pasta and Romanesco thoroughly. Return the pasta mixture to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in a small skillet over medium heat. When the garlic just starts to brown remove from the heat and stir in anchovy.
  3. Pour the anchovy mixture over the pasta and Romanesco and stir to coat. Add ¼ cup Romano cheese and pepper and stir to coat. If mixture is dry add a little of the reserved cooking liquid. Divide among four plates and top with additional cheese if desired.

Notes

Make Ahead Tip:

Make the garlic oil the night before or earlier in the day and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Once the pasta and romanesco are cooked, remove the garlic oil and add to the pot of pasta. Cook, stirring, over low heat until warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: main course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 cups
  • Calories: 332
  • Fat: 13
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Carbohydrates: 47
  • Fiber: 9
  • Protein: 10

Keywords: pasta romanesco, romanesco pasta, romanesco cauliflower pasta recipe, romanesco recipe pasta