Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Bacon

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

  • 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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  • 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!

  • 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 :)

  • 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.


  • 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!

  • 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!!!!

  • John

    I made this last week with romanesco cauliflower. In the end I forgot to put the red pepper in but it was the best cauliflower I have ever eaten. Leftovers were great too. It was understated too. I was worried that it would drowned in all the flavors but it was fantastic.

    Thanks Simple Recipes great idea.

  • Toni

    This looks like a great recipe – However, I would like to try it with kohlrabi, instead (because I LOVE kohlrabi). It has a similar taste to cauliflower, but different texture. Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas!

    PS, I really want you to come out with a cookbook!! :)

  • Mike

    Made this tonight and it is great! Didn’t want to spring for pine nuts, so made it with slivered almonds–pretty good, if I do say so. Am thinking the leftovers will make a terrific omelette tomorrow (if they survive the midnight snack!).

  • Lady Amalthea

    Sounds delicious! I often make cauliflower into soup ( but this seems much less labor intensive. For a veggie version, I’d probably do smoked tofu bits instead of the bacon.

  • Corinne

    I made this last night and it was the best side dish ever. Super easy, took less than 10 mins to make and tasted amazing!! I love this blog!

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!