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!

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

Showing 4 of 15 Comments / Reviews

  • Amanda

    Believe it or not, this tastes even better with raw cauliflower, and I hate the stuff. Raw cauliflower in small pieces with crispy bacon and some mayo all mixed together is delicious. I’ll definitely be adding the pine nuts and garlic as well!

  • Lisa

    That sure looks good! My mother makes fried cauliflower and it has always converted even the most stubborn anti-cauliflower eaters. Just boil the cauliflower florets for 5 minutes. After they’re cooled, dip them in egg, roll them in seasoned breadcrumbs and then fry them up until golden. Serve warm with a generous amount of parmesan sprinkled on top. Delicious!

  • Val from PA

    How nice – cauliflower has been featured on several of the blogs that I follow in the last couple of weeks!!

    A friend of mine recently turned me on to a sensational recipe for cauliflower that is steamed and then placed on a bed of tomatoes, onions, garlic and capers in a casserole dish. Then it’s topped with feta cheese before placing in under the broiler for about five minutes til the cauliflower starts getting brown… It really is delish!!

    Your recipe looks great as well – for some reason, though, I’m not too fond of pine nuts so I’m thinking toasted walnuts might be a good substitute here!

  • Sarah

    Oooh~the addition of pine nuts and lemon sounds SO good. have been using a similar (VERY easy) recipe from steamy kitchen for a while now~even the kids will eat it!

  • Charis

    I am trying to find different vegetable recipes for when my mom visits, and cauliflower is one of her favorites. Can the bacon be swapped for something or eliminated to make it a vegetarian recipe?

    I would just make roasted cauliflower and maybe toss in some toasted pine nuts at the end. ~Elise

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