Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Toasted Pine Nuts & Romano Cheese

  • Servings : 24
  • Prep Time : 0m
  • Cook Time : 0m
  • Ready In : 0m

Orecchiette, or “little ears,” are the signature pasta of the Puglia region, on the heel of the Italian boot. They’re most often served in simple, flavorful dishes like the classic broccoli rabe and Italian sausage, or this vegetarian take with cauliflower, toasted pine nuts, and pecorino romano. It’s a great example of how the sparse, rustic cooking of Southern Italy brings out the most flavor from a few simple ingredients.


Step 1

Cook the Barilla® pasta for half the time indicated on the package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in a blast chiller. Alternatively, cool it down in a walk-in cooler. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic container; refrigerate and use within several hours.

Step 2

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until light brown. Set aside.

Step 3

Working in batches, blanch the cauliflower in boiling water for about 8 minutes, until it's crisp-tender. Drain and shock in ice water. Drain and spread on a sheet tray to dry.

Step 4

For each serving, to order: Heat 2 tsp. oil and sweat some onions until translucent. Add a pinch of garlic and saute until tender. Add 3/4 cup cauliflower and raise the heat to high. Season with salt and pepper and saute until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 5

Meanwhile, reheat 1 1/3 cups pasta in simmering water. Drain and add it to the cauliflower pan with a few tablespoons of cooking water. Stir in a pinch each of parsley and basil, plus 2 tsp pine nuts. Toss and warm through.

Step 6

Plate and garnish with romano and a drizzle of olive oil.


  • 4 lb. Barilla Orecchiette
  • 4 cups pine nuts
  • 20 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 small yellow onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 16 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1 1/3 cups grate pecorino romano

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  • Gnochetti
  • Medium Shells
  • Orecchiette
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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1
Servings Per Container serving

Amount Per Serving
Calories 511
Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 320mg
Total Carbohydrate 63g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 4g
Protein 14g

Vitamin A 1%
Vitamin C 70%
Calcium 7%
Iron 18%
Allergy Information:
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Please note: for the purpose of the nutritional assessment, total sodium does not include salt added to the cooking water. When salt is listed "as needed" in the ingredient list, 1 tsp total is included in the analysis.