Recipes / Pasta with Cauliflower and Oat Crumble

Pasta with Cauliflower and Oat Crumble

By Kerri Conan

Published January 23, 2024

Think toasted and garlicky breadcrumbs are versatile? After one batch of this topping, you’ll be making extra to sprinkle on everything.

Photo: Kerri Conan
Photo: Kerri Conan
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Think of how much better life would be with savory granola to sprinkle here and there. Now you’ve got it—couched in an easy veg-forward recipe. After walking you through a more-sauce-less-pasta dish that riffs on the familiar family of noodles finished with breadcrumbs, you’ll be ready to explore all the oat crumble possibilities. And for finer and easier crumbs, try starting with quick-cooking oats. (Not “instant;” they’re a little different.) Soon you’ll be trying sizzling them with dried chiles or nuts and tossing them into salads or scattering a handful onto a bowl of soup or beans. They’ll even add instant crunch to roasted vegetables or fish. The crumble will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week—even longer if you don’t add cheese.


Make The Recipe!

Pasta with Cauliflower and Oat Crumble

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Makes 4 servings 1x

Time about 45 minutes

Units Scale


  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill high protein or thick-cut rolled oats
  • 2 or 3 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets (all different sizes is fine)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Dried Aleppo chile (or other ground or flaked chile) to taste
  • 8 ounces pasta (any shape, long or cut)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 anchovies, or more or less to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Put the oats in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and let the machine run until they’re coarsely ground into a mix of fine and coarse crumbs, about 1 minute. Transfer the oats to a bowl, add the garlic cloves to the food processor and pulse a few times to chop them. Scrape the garlic into a separate small bowl. (Now is a good time to get the cauliflower, parsley, and cheese ready to go.)
  2. When the water comes to a boil add the cauliflower and return the water to a steady bubble. Cook, stirring once or twice with a slotted spoon or spider until the cauliflower is easy to pierce with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a colander with a slotted spoon or slider, leaving the cooking liquid and any remaining little bits behind. Add more water to the pot if necessary and bring it to a boil.
  3. Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the oats and adjust the heat so the oat crumbs sizzle without burning. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn brown, smell toasty, and no longer taste raw, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. When the oats are one shade lighter than you ultimately want them, add the garlic and keep cooking and stirring until it’s soft and turning golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, chile, and some black pepper then transfer the crumb mixture to a serving bowl; toss in the cheese with a fork. Taste and adjust the seasoning them let the mixture sit. The oat crumbs will get crisper as they cool. Rinse out the skillet.
  5. Put the skillet over medium-high heat to dry then add the butter. When it foams, add the anchovies if you’re using them and mash them into the butter with a metal spatula. Add the cauliflower and about 1/2 cup cooking water from the pot. Mash and stir until a thick sauce forms, about 3 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary; keep the sauce warm over low heat. (Have the colander handy; no need to wash it out.)
  6. When the pot of water returns to a boil, add the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender but not mushy; start checking after 5 minutes. When it’s ready, reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid and drain the noodles and add them to the cauliflower sauce. Cook, stirring and adding a little of the reserved cooking liquid until the pasta and sauce come together and are steaming hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, sprinkled with some of the oat crumbs. Pass the remaining crumbs at the table.

— Recipe developed by The Bittman Project for Bob’s Red Mill

Recipe variations

Vegan Pasta with Cauliflower and Garlicky Oat Crumbs
Instead of the butter, increase the olive oil to 5 tablespoons and use 2 of them for the cauliflower sauce. Substitute 2 tablespoons capers for the anchovies and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast for the cheese; add it to the oat mixture with the garlic in Step 4.