Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade Pasta with Cauliflower & Pistachios (Vegan Friendly)

I made this the last week for dinner and we liked it so much, that I made it again this morning to be able to take a proper picture of it and write the recipe. I really dislike the lack of natural light during these colder months but it was a good excuse to make pasta again. I can never have too much of it.

This recipe is super simple and quick to make. I chopped all the ingredients for the tapenade by hand just to have bigger chunks. But you can also do it in the food processor. I made it using anchovies because I like the umami flavour that they give. But if you are vegan or don’t like them, you can skip them.


400grs of pasta, I used Mezzi Rigatoni

For the cauliflower:

1 small cauliflower, chopped into small pieces (about 4-5 cups)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of cayenne

1 teaspoon of celery salt

1 teaspoon of onion powder

For the sun-dried tomato tapenade:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, minced (from a can, preserved in olive oil)

1 tablespoon of capers, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ cup of Kalamata olives, minced

6 anchovy filets, minced (optional)

1 ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes or more to taste

Salt to taste. When I use anchovies, I don’t add any salt as they are salty enough

For the toppings:

1/3 of a cup of toasted unsalted pistachios

5 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley


Start by making the cauliflower. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot; add the cauliflower, cayenne, celery salt and onion powder. Cook for about 6 minutes until it is cooked through and a bit charred. Don’t forget to stir from time to time.

To toast the pistachios, first finely chopped them. Then place them in a large pan over medium heat. Toast them without any oil for a minute or two while stirring. Make sure to keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn. Transfer them to a bowl and set them aside to cool down.

To make the sauce: mince the sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic and Kalamata olives. If you are using anchovies, mince them as well. If you want to save time, you can also use a food processor for this. This time I just chopped them by hand.

Cook the pasta of as instructed on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, start making the sauce. Poor 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the minced tomatoes, capers, garlic, Kalamata olives, chillli flakes and anchovies (if using). Cook for about 2 minutes while stirring. Once the pasta is ready, reserve a bit of the pasta water to loosen up the sauce. I reserved about ¼ of a cup. Add the pasta, cauliflower, and a bit of the pasta water to the sauce. Cook for one extra minute while mixing, until everything is combined. Add salt to taste if needed.

Serve the pasta with the toasted pistachios and parsley. I also like to add an extra sprinkle of chilli flakes. Enjoy!

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