Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Breadsticks

September 28, 2016

Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Breadsticks

I LOVE Pecorino Romano cheese, like “truly, madly, deeply” love.
We have a long history together and we cannot help but to cherish one another.
To be honest I cherish it, I dunno if it shares the same feelings for me. I doubt it.
Anyhow, I love pecorino cheese because it makes my mouth pucker when I take a bite; it's so salty and sharp — I guess I must be really a salt fiend, whenever I’m grating it I always cut off a little chunk (okay, maybe a big chunk) and eat it straight.
So when I first saw Food & Wine’s September cover featuring a brilliant cacio e pepe pizza, as one does, my first thought was “Oooh, so hard to achieve outside a food styling studio pretty” (I mean, look at that beauty) followed by “Wait, cacio e pepe (a Roman dish with only three ingredients — pecorino cheese, black pepper, and spaghetti) on a pizza?”, followed by “Maybe that’s too much Pecorino?” (answer: no, there’s never too much pecorino cheese ) and then “I wonder how that would be on cauliflower crust? Does cauliflower pair well with pecorino cheese? And what about pepper?”
So many questions…

Food & Wine Mag

Well, I made the cacio e pepe pizza on a whim a couple of weeks ago in the form of cauliflower breadsticks.
It was so delicious I polished the whole thing off in one sitting. Spectacular.
It was actually so delicious I had to make it three more times before I was actually able to restrain myself from eating it and take a couple of decent pictures.
And even though my greyish wooden kitchen table is the furthest cry from a photography studio, it was a total stunner.

Cauliflower Crust

Cauliflower Crust
While this is unequivocally comfort food — cauli dough, eggs, and abundant amount of cheese, yessss — something about eating it feels almost civilized.
I guess it’s the cauliflower that provides the perfect excuse to eat even more pecorino cheese than I usually do and not feel guilty about it.

Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Breadsticks

These Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Breadsticks totally hit the spot and will satisfy the craving without wrecking your macros/nutrition.
That is, if you care about that stuff (you guys know I do!)
I’m going to be making this a lot this winter, I can tell.

Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Breadsticks

Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Breadsticks                                                                                             Print this recipe!
Inspired by Food&Wine September 2016 Issue

Serves 4

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets (should yield 4 cups of cauliflower rice)
2 eggs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon fine grain salt
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C) and place a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it with vegetable oil. Set aside.
In a food processor rice the cauliflower florets (it should be evenly chopped but not completely pulverized).
Transfer 4 cups of cauliflower rice to a microwave-safe dish and cover with lid. Microwave on high for 10 minutes.
Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
Place the cauliflower rice in a dish towel or cheesecloth and twist it to squeeze as much moisture as you can (I usually squeeze out over a cup of liquid)
This is very important. The cauliflower rice needs to be dry, otherwise you’ll end up with mushy breadsticks (be careful though, the cauliflower rice is thermonuclear hot!)
Add egg, mozzarella cheese, oregano, garlic, and salt. Mix well.
Spread the cauliflower mixture onto the lined baking sheet and shape into a rectangular shape.
Bake the crust for 25 minutes or until nice and golden.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle generously with ground black pepper, slice, and serve!

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 254 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 20 grams of protein.


  1. Looks delicious! Do you think it's possible to do this without a microwave? Steam and then dry out in a low oven, maybe?

  2. Photographing melting cheese is so hard for me, haha. Loveeeee me some salty cheese, too! I totally give you credit, Mike, for getting us into cauliflower creations (aka your amazing cauli fritter recipe).

  3. Hey Mike! Can't find the part about adding the black pepper in. Do we add it into the cauliflower mixture/dough or do we sprinkle on top with the pecorino?

    1. It's the last line: "Sprinkle generously with ground black pepper, slice, and serve!", but maybe that was added after your comment...

  4. Duuuuude - you did a fantastic job pairing cauliflower with pecorino cheese AND taking these drippy cheese pictures! Fantastic or should I say awesmazing!

  5. So you got me hooked on cauliflower anything. It started with your grilled cheese, to you breadsticks, pizza crust. This is a definite will try and soon. I have had success making cauliflower crust pizza without microwaving the cauliflower. You just rice it and mix it with the other ingredients and proceed as the recipe states. Just an fyi because once you get away from having to squeeze out all the moisture, you will find you make it way more often!!

  6. Pecorino Romano is the unsung hero of many of my pasta dishes, people always want to know what I used to make it so tasty! And just when I haven't seen a cauliflower dish from you in a while, you come out with another stunner!

  7. You're right that cover shot is so pretty definitely food studio worthy but not so easily transferred to a real life kitchen. Still, I like your version too I can see why you kept going back for more.

    D. King