Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Bacon

ItalianGluten-FreeLow CarbCauliflower

Cauliflower, first boiled briefly, then sautéed with toasted pine nuts, bacon or pancetta, garlic, lemon juice and chile pepper flakes.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Cauliflower lovers unite! I’m always looking for ways to dress up my favorite white vegetable.

Here’s a quickie, inspired by Southern Italian flavors. A little bacon (or pancetta), some roasted pine nuts, some garlic (of course), oregano, and red pepper flakes, and your cauliflower is ready for a debutante ball. Or a midweek meal. Enjoy!

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Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Bacon Recipe

  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side dish


  • 1 cauliflower head, cut into florets (see How to Cut and Core Cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, cut into batons
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste


1 Boil cauliflower in salted water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the cauliflower for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2 Toast pine nuts: While the water is heating, toast the pine nuts in a dry sauté pan until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them, as pine nuts go from toasted to burnt quickly. Set the pine nuts aside when they are toasted.

3 Fry bacon: Add the bacon to the pan and fry gently over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside with the pine nuts.

4 Sauté the garlic for 1 minute on medium-high heat, then add the cauliflower, pine nuts, bacon, oregano and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Do not let the garlic burn.

5 Turn off the heat and add salt and lemon juice to taste.

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Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Bacon

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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15 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jena

    Made this for dinner tonight and we really enjoyed it. I used a little more bacon because we were not making it as a side dish so I wanted it to be a little more hearty. We loved the complex flavors and will be making it again sometime. Thanks!

  2. rossella

    this makes a brilliant pasta sauce for orecchiette…once you start sauteeing the cauliflower crush it roughly with a fork and let rest until pasta is cooked. Add the orecchiette and enough pasta water to make the crushed cauliflower creamy. Add a generous amount of parmesan on every plate and serve instantly or it will do as…glue. Warm the serving dishes if you can, it will stay creamier for longer :)

  3. Linda

    Elise, this was wonderful. I never would have thought to put these flavors together. I used pancetta and will try the bacon next time. Loved the hint of lemon in the dish. This made a meal in itself. Thanks for sharing the recipe.


  4. Mary

    My only experience of eating cauliflower as a child was of a vegetable that was well and truly boiled, and I’ve rarely cooked it myself. What a wonderful recipe! I can’t believe I’m standing at the stove eating the leftovers out of the pan!

  5. JoyDee

    We love raw & cooked cauliflower but I’ve always served it plain with butter or w/cheese. I made this recipe last night and it was sooooo good that the 2 of us ate the entire recipe & it was one BIG head of cauli! I served it with roasted pork tenderloin and baked yams. Thanks!!!!

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