While I have a beloved bolognese recipe in my cookbook (hello Way-More-Veggies Bolognese!), I’ve been playing around with a different version at home. This Spicy Cauliflower Bolognese is a bit less creamy, a bit more umami-rich, and has one of my all-time favorite ways to add more veggies into your dishes: cauliflower rice.

You can swap cauliflower rice for some or all of the ground beef most recipes call for. ⁣Here, I went with ALL OF IT, and used it as a challenge to build a rich and complex bolognese using absolutely no animal protein. We used shallots (which are a bit more potent than normal onions) for a delicious base, then added red pepper flakes and fennel for even more pizzazz (also fennel is AMAZING for your gut).⁣

spicy cauliflower bolognese

No, you won’t miss the meat

I pretty much never miss the ground beef when I swap in cauliflower in any recipe, but that’s REALLY the case for this one, thanks to a few easy tricks. One of the things browned meat adds to recipes is an umami, or savory, note, so we built in umami by: ⁣

  1. Browning the cauliflower, carrots, and onions⁣
  2. Caramelizing the tomato paste (always let your tomato paste cook for a few minutes before adding liquid, if you can—the depth of flavor it creates is crazy!!)⁣
  3. Throwing in a dash of tamari—you won’t taste it, but it adds that super savory vibe!⁣

What you get is a satisfyingly savory sauce that meat eaters and vegans alike will love. Plus, when you add in that spicy flavor from the teaspoon of red pepper flakes (double it if you’re really into spice) the result is just so complex and delicious.

More cauliflower recipes

If you like this Spicy Cauliflower Bologonese, I’m positive you’re going to be equally obsessed with my One-Pot Healthy Taco Pasta (Dairy-Free, Vegan Option). Instead of swapping in cauliflower rice for all the ground beef like this bolognese, the taco pasta uses cauliflower rice in place of half (but you can totally swap all of it if you’re plant-based or just plain feel like it). It also takes less than 30 minutes to make and is the perfect vehicle for tons of taco toppings.

Once you’ve tried—and loved—both pastas, try one of these cauliflower-packed recipes next:

Still have leftover cauliflower? Add them to a green smoothie—it will make it super creamy and won’t affect the taste!

More reasons I love this Spicy Cauliflower Bolognese

Yes I love that this Spicy Cauliflower Bolognese is packed with veggies, but let’s talk about the flavor. I promise you it’s going to be the most flavorful bolognese you’ve ever had (and according to Zack, it’s “very authentic”), thanks to the caramelized tomato paste and dash of tamari. It also takes roughly 30 minutes to make, and most of that time is spent letting the veggies, spices, and tomato paste/puree cook, while stirring occasionally. Basically, it’s a must-add to your weeknight recipe repertoire.

Watch it being made!

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A post shared by Liz Moody (@lizmoody)

Enjoy, and tag me if you make it on Instagram (@lizmoody)—I can’t wait to see!

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spicy cauliflower bolognese

Spicy Cauliflower Bolognese

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  • Author: Liz Moody


  • Olive oil, to cook⁣
  • Fine grain mineral salt⁣
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (you can substitute 1 yellow onion if you must)⁣
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped⁣
  • 1 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cauliflower rice⁣
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add an extra .51 teaspoon if you like it spicy!)⁣
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds⁣
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste⁣
  • 24 ounces of tomato puree ⁣
  • 1 tablespoon tamari ⁣
  • 34 cloves garlic, minced and left to sit for 20 minutes while cooking everything else⁣
  • 4 servings pasta of choice, cooked in well-salted water (reserve the water!)⁣


  1. Cook shallot, carrot, and cauliflower rice in a drizzle of olive oil with a generous amount of salt until brown at edges, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the chili flakes and fennel and toast 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add tomato paste and let cook until dark maroon, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato purée, tamari, and garlic. Stir into pasta with a bit of reserved pasta water to bring it all together. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with chopped parsley and more red pepper flakes, if desired. Serves 4! Enjoy!