Trick yourself into eating your veggies with a big bowl of pappardelle with kale and creamy parmesan garlic sauce, made with a surprise ingredient – cauliflower!
pappardelle with kale and creamy parmesan garlic sauce



Just kidding – this is a cream free zone!

We’re taking a Jessica Seinfeld approach to cooking today, as disturbing as that sounds. Which basically means…we’re hiding vegetables in our food! And then thrusting them upon our unsuspecting loved ones. It’s really as fun as it sounds.

I’m normally not into taking the secretive road to vegetable consumption. Big bold veggies INYOURFACE is more my style. You might have noticed.

But occasionally I do like to trick myself into eating something good for me that tastes like it’s eleventy billion calories. This is that.

Of course I knew that it was really comprised entirely of a vegetable and not an ounce of cream, but my taste buds were very much not in on the secret. They were convinced that I was eating full-fledged alfredo and, honestly, who was I to get in the way of that?

A white lie worth lying. I think we can all get behind that.


Pappardelle with Kale and Creamy Parmesan Garlic Sauce
Trick yourself into eating your veggies with a big bowl of pappardelle with kale and creamy parmesan garlic sauce, made with a surprise ingredient - cauliflower!
Yield: 6 servings
  • 1 lb pappardelle
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 bunches lacinato kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Cook until the garlic is soft, stirring frequently, then remove from the heat to a small bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the six cups of water in a second pot until boiling. Add the cauliflower florets and cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender using a slotted spoon. Add 1 cup of the cooking water, the sauteed garlic, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree until the sauce was smooth. Add in ⅓ cup of parmesan cheese and blend again. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions, adding the kale to the pot in the last minute of cooking. Drain and then toss with the cauliflower sauce.
Cauliflower sauce slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th of recipe

 More pasta night recipes:

baked macaroni with tomato sauce and goat cheese

Baked Macaroni with Tomato Sauce and Goat Cheese

bucatini with butter-roasted tomato sauce

Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce

pennette with kale ragu

Pennette with Kale Ragu

From Around the Web:

Creamy Lemon and Asparagus Pasta from Crunchy Creamy Sweet

Creamy Carrot and Parm Pasta from Bell’Alimento

Creamy Lemon One Pot Pasta from Pink Parsley

Rainbow Chard with Penne and Goat Cheese White Wine Sauce from Food Faith Fitness

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese from Diethood


pappardelle with kale and creamy parmesan garlic sauce
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56 Responses to Pappardelle with Kale and Creamy Parmesan Garlic Sauce

  1. I like the idea of using cauliflower to make a “cream” sauce! I bet it’s really flavorful and the extra vegetable never hurt.

  2. A creamy sauce without cream sounds good to me!

  3. This looks like my dream pasta recipe! Pappardelle is one of my favourites and that parmesan garlic sauce sounds so lush, Joanne!

  4. Joanne, I love pappardelle. . it’s one of my faves. . and LOVE the cauliflower sauce. . oh my gawd, I can’t wait to try this! love!

  5. i ate something similar at a restaurant and loved it except that it had 1 billion calories, thanks to the cream-based sauce. I love how smooth your version looks, will have to try this sometime.

  6. Sune Moolman says:

    Pasta is a favourite of mine – this looks fabulous!

  7. I need this in my belly! I love making a creamy sauce with cauliflower, but this is even better as it has kale in it! More meals should have kale in them 🙂

  8. YEAH YOU DID! Cauliflower sauce has been my total addiction lately! I love that I can sneak those veggies into my husband! And then with carbs and kale…this is basically everything that my dreams are made of. Pinning!

  9. I keep reading about this cauliflower sauce, and I’m intrigued!

  10. Oh my gosh. We are TOTAL blogger buddies in the cauli sauce department. I totally just tried it for the first time last week and I am HOOKED. This pappardelle is calling my name.

  11. Agness says:

    I am the biggest fan of pasta in the whole world! Thanks for this lovely recipe 🙂

  12. Mmm creamy and so, so delicious! This sounds great friend!

  13. cheri says:

    Hi Joanne, clever way to eat cauliflower, white sauces are my favorite but sadly I do not prepare then very often because of all the butter and flour. Really , really like this recipe.

  14. This looks so good! Love the cauliflower sauce!

  15. Oooh I love this! Bring on the hidden veggies! I just got a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid and have been wanting to do a great white sauce recipe. Yup, think I just found it. Pinned!

  16. I really love this recipe. Anything that allows me to eat more of my beloved pasta without feeling guilty is a win in my book!

  17. When I was young, the only way I would eat veggies was if it was totally hidden in my meal. This looks so fantastic, I want a bowl right now!

  18. I must try that creamy cauliflower sauce. It looks delicious and healthy.

  19. Julia says:

    I absolutely love cauliflower’s ability to make you feel like you’re eating eleventy billion calories. I neeeds to get my cream on! P.S. I’ve never had pappardelle but my guess is I’d slurp them noods like it’s my biznatch.

  20. You had me at cauliflower. And also? GET YO’ CREAM ON <<< new motto.

  21. I would never have guessed that cauliflower could result in a sauce that mimics alfredo. Must try!

  22. Mira says:

    Healthy creamy (cauliflower) sauce has been on “to cook” list for a while! Thanks for sharing Joanne, will try the recipe soon 🙂

  23. Holy yum! That is some gorgeous, silky sauce – I can’t believe it’s cauliflower based. Gorgeous, Joanne!

  24. I, too, don’t need much convincing to eat my veggies but my meat-and-meat eating husband does. So this dish is a win-win for both of us!

  25. Cauliflower sauce sounds delicious! I must make this, NOW! Pinning!

  26. Lynn says:

    Much to my chagrin – I have to stay away from cream based recipes, so I am delighted with this! I’m so making it.

  27. I’m a fan of veggies any way I can get ’em. This looks fantastic!!

  28. oh my, Joanne, I wish my screen was a magic gate, which would lead me directly into that creamy pasta! looks delicious 🙂 i’m actually not sure anymore whether i should really go forward with my dinner plans, or just throw myself head first into the making of this!
    have a nice week,

  29. Monica says:

    I can’t tell you how much I wish this was my reality and I could pick up that fork and give that pasta and sauce a try! I am amazed that creamy sauce is made with cauliflower…I’ve heard of it but I guess I wasn’t absolutely convinced but this looks crazy good. I love anything with pappardelle but a guilt-free cream sauce with it is almost too much for me to handle. : )

  30. SallyBR says:

    If I make one more exotic concoction using cauliflower, my beloved might go on strike…

    he’s been very suspicious every time I sneak yet another cauliflower head into the fridge…

    but, this sauce is hard to resist… 😉

  31. Trisha says:

    Creamy pasta is my love language. But healthy creamy pasta? Mind blown. Can’t wait to sneak this one past the hubs….

    • Caitlin says:

      I’m a lover of hidden veggies! And my husband eats like a five year old so I have to hide them or he doesn’t eat em. I guess I’m getting good practice for when we have kids! Can’t wait to try this.

  32. Emma says:

    Hooray! How clever! I tried a vegan cauliflower “cream” sauce that didn’t do it for me- I think the milk and parmesan will make all the difference here. Plus pappardelle is always good… *slurp*!

  33. Kelly says:

    Big bold veggies in your face is my kind of meal but for the meat loving husband I am always looking for ways to sneak in more veggies! Love the cauliflower sauce, it looks amazing with the pappardelle and kale!

  34. Yeah girl! Sneak in those veggies, especially works well with cheese! This is amazeballs!

  35. the creamy parmesan garlic sauce is killing me right now because i want it so badly. I want to put it on pasta and potatoes and bread and shrimp and chicken and even salad! I mean I like it that much!

  36. Kinsey says:

    That looks so good! I would love a bowl of that to help me warm up in this -20 windchill and “snow hurricane” I’m currently in the middle of. Yum!

  37. Hotly Spiced says:

    Beautiful images of your pasta, Joanne. I do love how it’s so ‘creamy’ without the cream. A beautiful mid-week meal xx

  38. I don’t ever need an excuse to eat lots of vegetables. This pasta sounds perfect 🙂

  39. Kate says:

    I think lying to your tastebuds is very different than lying to people you cook for!

  40. Krista says:

    Oh lordy, Joanne, this sounds and looks so creamily marvelous. 🙂

  41. This does look incredibly creamy! I’ve seen a few cauliflower pasta recipes about but it’s hard to believe from the pictures that this is cauliflower in action.

  42. Katerina says:

    I love the fact that sauce is made without using heavy cream or any cream for that matter!

  43. It’s crazy how creamy cauliflower can get! That sauce looks heavenly. I’m a fan of hiding veggies and having veggies all in my face — really, that’s just double veggies!

  44. Katie says:

    ooooh sneaky – looks so good too! x

  45. i need this in my life, stat!! mmm. i love creamy sauces and with cauli? yum!

  46. That creamy parmesan sauce looks to die for. Loving the kale added as well

  47. Mmmmm – so delicious and a delicious way to use kale.

  48. Eileen says:

    This sounds like such a great bowl of comfort food! Can’t wait to try this garlicky, cheesy sauce. I especially love that you make it in a blender — instead of a food processor, which I continue not to have. One day!

  49. This looks delicious. Creamy, garlicky and cheesy. YUM!
    And with cauliflower so I can hide it from the kids 😉

  50. yessss-I’m all about hiding veggies in food, esp creeeamy dreamy pasta!!

  51. Peggy says:

    I made this pasta yesterday and it was delish! I was a little skeptical about the sauce since I love to make homemade white or cheese sauce. I made the sauce with whole milk & added a pinch of nutmeg. It was amazing – I will be making this for my mac & cheese instead of white sauce.
    The only change I made to the recipe was to boil the garlic cloves with the cauliflower as I was too lazy to dirty another pan.
    Make this – you won’t regret it…….

  52. RJ says:

    the flavor for this pasta was amazing! I just had some problems getting my sauce as creamy as yours– maybe too much water dripped in? it ended up being more grainy (but delicious) than I would have liked. I tried adding some flour and cornstarch to thicken it up but to no avail. Any tips?


    • joanne says:

      Hmm that’s so strange…my sauce was not grainy at all! My guess is there was probably too much water…maybe your cauliflower was a bit smaller than mine was. I would suggest next time adding in the water tbsp by tbsp until you get the desired consistency. Hope this helps!

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