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Here’s an easy, satisfying, high-umami pasta recipe that’s equally at home on a weeknight or at a dinner party. Vegetarian with easy vegan option.

umami pasta with cauliflower, shiitakes, and chickpeas in a bowl with a glass of white wine
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Why we love this recipe

Umami pasta with cauliflower, shiitakes, and chickpeas makes the perfect example of an easy vegetarian recipe that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Quick enough for a weeknight and more than delicious enough for a causal dinner party, it’s:

  • Packed with veggies
  • Full of savory, satisfying flavors
  • Flexible and easy to riff on if you like
  • An especially great fall and winter option

I first published this recipe here back in 2015. I’ve since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • I’ve pictured a beautiful head of orange cauliflower just for fun, but you can 100% use good old white cauliflower. They taste the same.
  • I tend to buy shiitake mushrooms pre-sliced for this recipe. It cuts down on prep time, and they’re often, surprisingly, a better value, since the tough, heavy stems of whole shiitakes get discarded. If you use whole mushrooms to slice yourself, buy extra to account for the weight of the stems.
  • You can use any shape of pasta that you like. I’ve shown thin spaghetti in some photos and rotini in others.
  • Choose a good-quality, freshly grated parmesan cheese. It adds a ton of savoriness and even a touch of sweetness. If it’s important to you that this recipe be vegetarian, be sure to use a variety not made using animal rennet. To make it vegan, simply omit the cheese.
  • Canned chickpeas make this dish quick and easy, and they work great here. You can cook your own chickpeas from dried, of course, if you like. The one can in this recipe equal about 1 3/4 cups of cooked chickpeas.
  • Use capers in brine for this recipe. As compared to salt-packed capers, they’re less — though still plenty — salty and more vinegary. You’ll use a bit of the brine, too.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a gorgeous batch of umami pasta with cauliflower, shiitakes, and chickpeas. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll set a big pot of salted water on the stove to boil. One by one, cook the cauliflower and then the pasta. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, garlic, and shiitakes.
  2. Add the capers and a bit of brine, and then the chickpeas.
  3. Place drained pasta and cauliflower into the skillet.
  4. Off the heat, stir in lemon juice, pepper, and cheese. That’s it!
umami pasta with cauliflower, shiitakes, and chickpeas in a bowl

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Umami pasta with cauliflower, shiitakes, and chickpeas came into the world as an example of a riffed weeknight dinner that I decided to share on UG back in 2015. It’s quick and easy to put together, so I tend to make it shortly before serving. I don’t recommend going out of your way to make it in advance.

That said, it holds up just fine in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and can be reheated in the microwave. The photos with spaghetti were taken the following day.

More favorite high-umami pasta recipes

umami pasta with cauliflower, shiitakes, and chickpeas in a bowl with a glass of white wine

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umami pasta with cauliflower, shiitakes, and chickpeas in a bowl with a glass of white wine
4.60 from 5 votes

Umami Pasta with Cauliflower, Shiitakes, and Chickpeas

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Here's an easy, satisfying, high-umami pasta recipe that's equally at home on a weeknight or at a dinner party. Vegetarian with easy vegan option.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 pound (454 grams) pasta, any shape
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) sliced shiitakes
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, about 1 ½ pounds/680 grams, cut into small florets
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) capers, plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) brine
  • 1 15.5- ounce 439-gram can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (60 grams) grated parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • Fill a large lidded pot halfway with generously salted water and set on the stove to boil.
  • In a wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  • Meanwhile, cook the cauliflower in the pot of boiling water until tender, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  • Return water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
  • Add the shiitakes and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to the skillet with the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and cooked through. Use a metal spatula to lift them from the bottom of the pan if they start to stick.
  • Pour the capers and brine into the skillet and cook for a moment, using the brine to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the chickpeas and cook until warmed through.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the skillet along with the cauliflower, lemon juice, pepper, and grated cheese.
  • Serve with additional grated cheese.

Notes

  1. I've pictured a beautiful head of orange cauliflower just for fun, but you can 100% use good old white cauliflower. They taste the same.
  2. You can use any shape of pasta that you like. I've shown thin spaghetti in some photos and rotini in others.
  3. I tend to buy shiitake mushrooms pre-sliced for this recipe. It cuts down on prep time, and they're often, surprisingly, a better value, since the tough, heavy stems of whole shiitakes get discarded. If you use whole mushrooms to slice yourself, buy extra to account for the weight of the stems.
  4. Choose a good-quality, freshly grated parmesan cheese. It adds a ton of savoriness and even a touch of sweetness. If it's important to you that this recipe be vegetarian, be sure to use a variety not made using animal rennet. To make it vegan, simply omit the cheese.
  5. Canned chickpeas make this dish quick and easy, and they work great here. You can cook your own chickpeas from dried, of course, if you like. The one can in this recipe equal about 1 3/4 cups of cooked chickpeas.
  6. Use capers in brine for this recipe. As compared to salt-packed capers, they're less — though still plenty — salty and more vinegary. 
  7. This recipe is quick and easy to put together, so I tend to make it shortly before serving. I don't recommend going out of your way to make it in advance. That said, it holds up just fine in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and can be reheated in the microwave. The photos with spaghetti were taken the following day.

Nutrition

Calories: 440kcal, Carbohydrates: 77.7g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 7.8g, Fiber: 9.4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Pasta + Noodles
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.60 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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